Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27

Every time I get an email from home I am always surprised by just how much it is that really happens in the course of just one week. I can't believe that life just keeps moving like it is is so strange for me. I like what you said about how the things we focus on tend to expand, though....I have noticed that here. There are a lot of missionaries who focus a lot on how hard the work is or about how miserable they are doing it, but the only thing that happens is that it gets harder and they get more miserable. It is my goal to be more like the missionaries who focus on the positive and always just try to be happy. They just get happier and happier and life is good. And life is always good, am I right?
This week a Moroccan family was referred to us from a man in the ward who happens to be their landlord. Malika, the mother, just got divorced from her husband and moved here from Morocco. She has three daughters, and they are Muslim, but the daughters have said that they don't like being Muslim. They needed some help moving and setting up furniture, so Elder Tate and I spent some time doing that for them this week. They said that we can go over there this week to talk about the gospel, so hopefully that will go well for us :) 

Two of Malika's daughters:

As for Green, our investigator from Nigeria...nothing is happening with him really. He always just tells us that he is really busy with his dad, who is sick, so we haven't had the chance to meet with him for a while. It is kind of lame, but I am not sure how committed he is to learning about our message anyway, so I suppose it is alright.

The YSA Arctic Party was this weekend, and apparently it was a lot of fun. There were YSA here who came from all over Europe to participate, and they all came to church yesterday to support a girl named Rebecca, who gave her farewell talk. She left today for the England MTC, and then she is going to the Temple Square mission! That is exciting that she is going so close to home, so I think it would be a lot of fun to go find her when I get back and before she goes back to Norway :) We had a few less active YSA come as well, so I think that the party was a success.

When we were at a member's house over Christmas, we ate balut (They are from the Phillipines).  The only problem was that it smelled funny and looked really really gross while we were getting ready to eat it. It actually wasn't bad when you actually eat it, though, and I guess it is a delicacy in the Philippines. It basically just tastes like a boiled egg. So that was really weird, but it was a good experience :) I guess that in the Philippines they make all the new missionaries eat it and the members there think it is really funny to watch the Americans their first time.

It has snowed every day and we are probably getting pretty close to a meter, so it has been a lot of snow. It is really really dry snow, though, so when you walk it kind of just puffs out from under your feet. And it squeaks when you walk...I think I remember you telling me something about how that is what the snow is like in Wyoming... It has been anywhere from -5 to -10 degrees celsius, so it hasn't been that bad :) I can't complain, at least, and I am used to it by now.

I hope that you have a great week! I am doing well, and I appreciate all of your support :)

Eldste Childs :) 

P-day on a cold winter's day in Oslo:  Popcorn and a Disney Movie!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Technology and Missionary Work

In Norway there are obviously Norwegians that live here, but there are also a lot of people from other countries as well. When we go and talk to people on the street, it is almost every other person doesn't come from Norway it seems like, so there are a lot of different languages and cultures represented here. Sometimes when we are teaching, that presents a challenge and a language barrier between the missionaries and the investigators. There have always been ways to cope with this issue, but now with the advancement of technology, missionaries from our mission have been able to Skype missionaries serving in the native countries of investigators here to help with teaching. So, in the past month, missionaries have been Skyping a couple of elders in Albania so that they can teach a lady from there, and she got baptized this last week! The missionaries were able to participate in the meeting via Skype. One of them gave a talk, and they both bore their testimonies at the end, and it was really cool. I know that the Lord is hastening His work, and He is using all of the resources available to do it. There are so many ways we can get involved, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be here as a part of His army on the front lines.

Random Christmastime Pictures

Dallin put a bunch of pictures in our Drop Box today.  Here's a sampling:

Elder Badger (First Companion) on Dallin's right and Elder Tate (Current Companion) on Dallin's left.

Freia Chocolate Factory

Ward Christmas Party

 Does this Santa make you smile or what?

Balut.  Always an adventure as a missionary...  

January 20

I have had a good week, but now looking back on it, everything is kind of mixed around and blurred together, which generally means that it has been a good week. We have taught lessons, met with members, attended an open house at the church, and spent a lot of time contacting new potential investigators, and looking back on it all, I think that I can truly say that I enjoyed myself this week. Not that I don't do so on other weeks, but I suppose the difference this week is that it feels like we really did accomplish things. That we really did fulfill a part of our call with the work that we did, and that the Lord has been pleased with our efforts.

There are probably a lot of things that contributed to the improvement this week, but I think that a huge one is the way that prayer has played a role in everything that we have done. We reached a point where we couldn't do anything else on our own, so we prayed and God gave His help. We could not find new investigators alone, so we prayed and God led us to people that would listen. We had no way to find out what a new investigator needed to hear, so we prayed and God whispered to our hearts. We reached a point where we could not go on, so we prayed, and God gave us strength. I know that through prayer we can really work miracles in our lives here. God is a God of miracles, and if they are not present in our lives, then maybe we do not have enough faith.
I would encourage everyone to prayer a little more, speak a little more earnestly, and rely a little more fully on God as we go throughout our lives. It will help, I promise.
To end, here are a few borrowed words from a letter of Paul to the Thessalonians from the missionaries of the world to all of you:

"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."
Pray for us, that we may do the Lord's will.
I love all of you! Vi snakkes!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Charity - The Greatest Virtue of All

Hello everyone!

I have had a really good week, and overall, our mission is doing a lot better than we have in the past. We are seeing more success in finding and in teaching, as well as the number of people that have both committed to be baptized and those who actually make it to the waters of baptism. This week, Elder Tate and I doubled the number of lessons that we taught, and we found someone who committed to be baptized in February (something that is really really rare if you understand our area here.) We have been looking forward more to going out to work because we are seeing miracles and we are finding God's prepared children. I am beginning to feel like I understand more about what it means to be a missionary and to be a servant of the Lord, wherever we happen to be in the world.

I think that there are many reasons for this change, one being that it is God's will now for us to have more success, but I think that our progress here has been largely due to the fact that we have tried to have more charity. As I have studied the scriptures these past few weeks, it has dawned on me that all of the Christ-like attributes that we try to develop here are only appendices to charity. Charity is the reason that we do things, and the way that we go about doing them. It is through charity that we are able to look outside ourselves to help others, and it is through Christ's gift of charity that we are able to be cleansed from our sins and eventually return to live with our Heavenly Father again.

As we have focused on charity in our mission, we have seen miracles as we have come to more fully understand the reason why we go out to talk to people. Why we want them to be baptized. It is because we truly love them and want them to receive the same opportunities that we have as Latter-day Saints. As we have striven to develop more love toward others, God has blessed us, and I know that it works the same way in all of our lives.

Here is a little thought that I had this week about charity:
It is the glasses of our current perceptions of reality which cleanse and heal the heartaches of yesterday, focus and clarify the lessons of the past, and give color and meaning to our dreams for the future. Only after we truly understand where a person has been and how they see the world can we begin to really understand the whys of what they do. Without this understanding, we are left to grope in the dark and guess, most often falsely, about the true essence of a person's character.

I know that as I have tried to understand people more fully and to see them the way the Savior sees them, I have been filled with His love and my desire to serve others has increased. I am so grateful for the gift of love which we are all able to receive if we just open up our hearts to God.

I love you all, and I hope you have a fantastic week. Ha det fint!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Godt Nytt År!

Happy New year! 2014 is going to be the best ever! Something that is exciting is that this will be the only year of my life that I am a missionary the entire time. And the year that I will be away from home the whole time. Bittersweet, huh? But I am really excited. New Year's in Oslo was absolutely incredible. On New Year's Eve we worked until 9 o'clock, which was really hard because everyone was already partying, and then we went over to the senior couple's apartment  and had a party, ate food, and played games until midnight. We had a white elephant gift exchange, and we had a really good time. At midnight we went outside and watched as the fireworks began. It was incredible. Everyone was shooting rockets into the sky throughout the entire city, and there were soooo many. Then the city started a huge firework show over the fjord which we watched, and then someone started lighting off huge fireworks in the middle of the apartment complex we were in. They were huge and really close, so it was scary but awesome. It was such a strange feeling to be entering into my "black" year, and just to know that I am here in Oslo for a new year. It was strange. Then we went home and I am not sure that we walked past or sat next to one person that was not drunk. Not surprising, I guess, but I have never been more grateful for the Word of Wisdom in my life than on that night. I am so grateful that I got to be here in Oslo for this exciting holiday.

As district leader, I have been trying to figure out what we are going to be doing this transfer, and how we can work better with the ward. I had a meeting with the bishop and ward mission leader yesterday to talk about it, and we have decided to work pretty heavily with the YSA in the ward for the next month. We have almost 100 less active YSA, so there is some real potential there. If we can get them excited about the work, then it will give the rest of the ward energy as well, and get things moving along.

With the new year I have been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions and what they really mean for us in our lives. I feel like for most of my life, I have set new year's resolutions and other goals, which I work really hard to accomplish for a little while...but I end up forgetting about all of them. And I can't help but feel like that is the way that it is for a lot of us. One thing that my mission has done for me has been to make me a lot more goal oriented. I have witnessed the changes that can happen in my life because of goals that I prayerfully set and earnestly work to achieve. I have seen the way that the atonement can enter into my life as I sincerely desire to change and become better, and then help me to accomplish things that I would never have accomplished alone. I know that as we set righteous goals and work together with the Lord to achieve them, we can change in ways that we never thought were possible. I am so grateful for the opportunity that we all have to start over and become something better this year, so let's all make 2014 the best year yet!

I love you guys!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014