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!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


We received the following picture and message from Dallin's Mission President today:

Your son has been assigned to work right here in Oslo.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Last Week In the USA!

So I could swear that I only got here to the MTC last Wednesday, but 6 weeks have snuck by, almost without my knowledge, and we are already to my last post before I will leave for Norway. It has been a very exciting week for our district, for obvious reasons, and at times it has become difficult to focus. Our mission president has already decided in which area we will be serving and with which elder. I am so close to Norway! It is nerve-racking for me to think about, because I could not be more excited to live among the Norwegians, yet at the same time more nervous.

For all you who are not as knowledgeable about Norway, here is a little side note. The official language of Norway is called Bokmål, and that is what 80% of the people speak. This language is best exemplified by the way people sound in Oslo, and is what I have been learning for the past 6 weeks. However, if I am assigned to serve in Trondheim in the east, Bergen in the west, or in a number of areas in the north, I will have to learn to speak and understand a completely different dialect. Even other Norwegians have problems understanding each other at first, so we will see how that goes... I guess we will know in a week!

Oh yes, that reminds me, we received our travel plans this week! My flight leaves at 2:30 pm, and we are going to be leaving the travel office at the MTC at 11 am. So nice not to have to rush in the morning! My flights are as follows:

Leave SLC at 2:30 pm
Arrive Dallas/Ft Worth, TX at 6:10 pm
Leave Dallas/Ft Worth, TX at 7:55 pm
Arrive London Heathrow, England at 11:00 am
Leave London Heathrow, England at 1:05 pm
Arrive Oslo, Norway at 4:15 pm

That is such a long time to be on a plane, but it is going to feel like heaven after so much sameness...
Since we are leaving this coming Monday, it has been and will be a week full of a lot of lasts. I did my last load of laundry this morning, it is my P-day, and it is the last time I will go to the temple for two years. Our last class with our teachers is right around the corner, and pretty soon it will be the last time I see the server in the cafeteria who always smiles at me and asks how Norwegian is coming. This week full of lasts has been bittersweet, but it has turned my thoughts to another who knew His time was running out as well, even Jesus Christ.

I think we can learn a lot by examining the Savior's life and the things HE chose to do just before HE died. We are taught the things that are most important, and we can hopefully apply His perfect example to our own lives. Soon before His final descent into the agony of Gethsemane, our Lord called together His beloved apostles, and shared with them the last supper. During the course of the evening, Christ instituted the sacrament and introduced the symbolism of this our most sacred ordinances in the church. Jesus carefully explained to these relatively new followers of Christ the ties between the sacrament and the atonement which He would soon perform. In later words to these men, He charged them to go forth, teaching all nations, preaching repentance, and helping them come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. This was the charge then, and I am a witness that it is the charge now.

How well do we perform this our sacred duty, as we have received it from the Son? I think in the field perhaps too often the focus is on baptism, and, once that goal is reached, the work stops there. But that is not how it should be. Baptism is the gate whereby we enter in to access the atonement, but it surely is not the end. It is the beginning of a journey of life-long conversion and enduring to the end. Therefore, as missionaries we must be mindful of our true purpose, which is for all to reconcile themselves with God and receive a remission of their sins. In other words, this is the purpose of our missionary purpose.

Now, I realize that most of you are not full-time missionaries, so how are we doing with this ourselves? Did we receive baptism and then proceed to coast through life, or do we press forward in faithfulness, converting  ourselves to the Lord and continually repenting and coming back to Him? Do we truly use the atonement the way it was meant to be used, every week, day, and hour that we need to be more like Christ? The atonement is not confined to those bad people who are trying to be good. It is also extended to those who have not done anything wrong and are worthy, but are trying to be better. I hope that as we begin to truly understand the true extent of what Christ has done for us that we will be able to use it more effectively in our lives, and, through our examples, invite others to use it as well. Missionary work is all around us, so never miss out on an opportunity to share with someone the glad message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all, and my next post will be coming from Norway! Woot Woot!

Until then, hade!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tools in the Lord's Hands

Hello there again! I absolutely cannot believe that it is already August. My one month mark will be this week! I have been here for four weeks, and I am nowhere close to fluent in Norwegian, but I am accomplishing so much. I am here not to learn how to talk to the people of Norway, but to become fluent in the language of the Spirit. Think on that for a moment. If I can learn, and I mean really understand, how the Spirit speaks in my life, I will be enabled to learn Norwegian through the gifts of the Spirit and, more importantly, to do the will of the Father. I know that this same principle applies to all of our lives. It is so important for us to learn to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Even though we are here as full-time missionaries of the Lord, we still manage to have a lot of fun while we are learning the Work of Salvation. Here are a few things of note from the past week: 
  • It was my little sister Madison's birthday this last Friday! She turned 11 years old, and she is just the best ever. I just wanted her to know I have been thinking about her.
  • My aunt seems to have taken my comment about electric toothbrushes last week as a cry in the darkness for help, and sent me an Angry Birds electronic toothbrush. My teeth are very thankful for the added brushing power it has brought.
  • Other than that, I have sat in a classroom all day every day, studying Norwegian and the gospel and learning so much, but nothing all that interesting has really happened. Thank you all for the letters, they are very much appreciated and sought after. A letter can light up a missionary's day like nothing else can. It is so good to know that people care. 
So, in my scripture studies this week I found a scripture which stated that it is only after many trials and much tribulation that we are made instruments in the Lord's hands. I thought this was so interesting, and it really touched a part of me that probably wouldn't have paid attention if I wasn't here on a mission. Nothing about this is easy. I am truly in the refiner's fire, and I know that it is only going to get hotter, but that is okay, because the Lord is making me a tool in His hands. That is my calling - to do the Lord's work as HE would have it done. Not as I, in my incredibly small understanding of the big picture, think that it should happen. The Master is building His kingdom, and I have been blessed to be a part of the work. Is that not enough to satisfy my soul? Why should I care what job the Lord has in mind for me? Is it the tool's job to worry about whether it is used to build the foundation or to apply the finishing touches to the uppermost tower? Is it the saw's place to object when the Master Carpenter decides that it must be a little sharper, a little more refined, in order to get the job done?
And neither should the drill request to see the finished masterpiece when all is said and done. We are building the Kingdom of God under His direction, and who cares what kind of a tool we are? I personally don't believe that a hammer has enough knowledge or wisdom to request that it should be used as a saw. The Lord knows what we are capable of accomplishing, and He will help us get to that point, but we must be willing to pay the price and submit ourselves to His will. I may not see the fruits of my labors in Norway in 2 years, or in 50 years, or perhaps not even in this lifetime at all. But I am building the Kingdom of God, and, if I do as He commands, I can rest assured that my work is going to be worthwhile. Our ultimate goal in this life is to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him, and dost that not begin with doing the will of the Lord? I submit that it does, and I pray that we all can begin this path. The Lord has declared, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I am." May we all come unto Christ and become useful tools in His hands.

I love you all, and I hope to hear from you soon! Vi ses!