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!