Happy New Year, everyone! 2014 has been one of the hardest years of my life, but also one of the best. I can't believe that it is over already. I remember distinctly last New Year's eve. I was standing on the roof of the Rasmussen's apartment in Oslo, talking to Elder Badger. His black year had just ended, and mine had just begun, and now, almost exactly one year later, the year is finished. Where did the time go? I'll tell you where it went: it went to a lot of knocked doors and a lot of people contacted on the street. It went to a lot of time spent with the members and time spent teaching investigators and doing everything except forcing them into the water to get them baptized. And you know what they always say - time flies when you're having fun.
At a year and a half into my mission, I can honestly say that missionary work is fun. I am standing on the edge of this year, looking out at 2015, and I am a little nervous to make the leap, because 2015 brings change. That word which is so beautiful and so necessary, yet so scary at the same time. I am comfortable as a missionary, and I have found my niche in the machine. But change is exactly what I need and I am excited for all of the adventures that 2015 is going to bring. Including the next 6 months of being a missionary. From this point on I am going to be sprinting toward the finish line. No looking back. It is a race against myself, and with the Lord's help, I will win. So I hope that you all have some goals for yourselves as well, because that's where progression really comes in. We have to set goals which will help us and others to achieve our Heavenly Father's ultimate goal for us, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." What a wonderful journey we are all in together.
I had a wonderful Christmas with the Norwegian people. It was the best to be able to talk to my family, and it felt just like I was sitting back in Highland, Utah. What a weird feeling! We ate delicious Christmas food, sang and danced around the Christmas tree, shared Christmas traditions, and received many gifts from our friends and family. We have been so blessed, and I am ready to show my gratitude by giving the Lord my all.
My testimony of the Savior is very simple and quite deep. Over the course of the past year and a half, I have discovered that Jesus Christ is not just a bright idea which helps people to have hope in a dark world. He was not just a wise man or a great teacher, and he was more than just the heir to the throne of the Jews. Yes, He he was more even than the Savior of the world, born more than 2000 years ago in a nation who sought His life. None of that would matter if it were not for the glorious fact that Jesus Christ is a real presence now, in our lives, today. He lives. Sometimes I worry that we focus too much on what Jesus Christ did instead of what He does. Less on who He is and more on who He was. Because for me, when I picture Christ, I don't picture the lonely man walking the roads of Jerusalem. I picture the healing hands which pick me up when I am down. I think of the gentle arm He has given me on those days when I didn't think I could go on. When I didn't think I could knock on one more door or talk to one more person. I think of the times when I was ready to give up, and the Savior said to me, no, one more. Reach one more, feed my sheep. I have at times been in the depths of despair and darkness, and I felt I was nothing. But still, the Savior reached out in His infinite mercy and touched me with His love. He has given me a new heart and cleansed my soul. So yes, I know that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, walked among the Jews in Jerusalem and finally died for all of our sins on Calvary. There is nothing I love to think about more than the life of that Holy Man. But more importantly than anything else, I know that He lives so that we too might live again. He lives to take away our weaknesses and pain and heartache. He knows exactly what we feel in every trial we meet in this life, but He also loves us enough to let us go through it, sometimes seemingly alone, so that we too can grow and gain the capacity to give life to others as well. He is the gift this Christmas season, and I am so grateful to be able to wear his name on my chest and share that knowledge with others now. May we all live a little bit more like Him each day is my prayer.
Thank you so much for all of the support that I receive from each of you, it really means the world to me. Good luck with your New Year's resolutions, and remember: Walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined. The only thing stopping you is your self! I love you all!
On the 26th we had a big multi-zone Christmas celebration and that included the talent show. For the talent, we had "Elder Childs and the Dancing Reindeer." Just a silly performance of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and it was a lot of fun. It was good for all of the missionaries to be able to blow off some steam during the Christmas season. I feel so blessed, because some of the missionaries were having their get-togethers with only 6 or 8 missionaries, where we had 40. So that was fun.