Monday, April 21, 2014

Bleeding Hope

Well, Easter is finished, and it was exactly what I was expecting it to be. Narvik was a ghost town. Not a soul on the streets, vacant houses, and a lot of wind and rain. And the people we did talk to tended to question our IQ for being on the streets trying to do missionary work this week. My only response was, I know, but what other choice do we have? There aren't a lot of choices up here. Even the birds, the few creatures that actually enjoy true freedom to soar to heaven's heights, had a rough week. In my free time I would look out the window and watch as they struggled to fly against the blasting north wind. It reminded me a lot of what I probably look like when running on a treadmill, struggling as hard as they could but¸despite their best efforts, continuing to creep slowly backward until they were so exhausted that the only choice was to give up and go with the current. If I didn't feel so sorry for them, it probably would have been highly comical. So yep, it was one of those weeks. Except it wasn't.

I think it was about Friday that I looked through my planner and realized that we were on course to have the best week, as far as numbers that I have had my entire mission. That was a bit of a shock, because it felt like any other week. We did all the same things, but somehow we taught a lot more lessons and found a lot more new investigators than normal. The Lord poured out His blessings on us this week, and I don't know what we did to deserve it, but I sure am grateful.

President Evans called to congratulate us today, which felt good, but the exciting part was that he also told me that this transfer I am going to be training in Narvik as district leader, and I am going to be getting a Norwegian companion! The language has become a bit of a hobby for me, and I have become obsessed with my pronunciation, so I am really excited to be able to be with a native Norwegian all the time. And what is better is that he is from Moss, which is near to Oslo (which means I have probably seen him before at some kind of stake function), so he doesn't have some weird dialect either. I feel really lucky.

The highlight of the week came on Saturday, when we had an appointment with a Polish woman named Krystyna. She has been around for a while now, but I have never thought that she was all that positive. Boy was I wrong. I was really stressed out about it, because all the members were out of town, and we can't meet with women and just the two of us in private, so I wasn't sure what we were going to do. The time came for the appointment and we still didn't have a solution, so we met her in the town square and went into a local grill that I saw- it just happened to be the only thing open in all of Narvik. We had a really great conversation, and then she almost knocked me out of my chair by asking, "So how soon can I be baptized?" I was so surprised that it took me several seconds to realize what she was asking and come up with a coherent response, but we told her that if she wanted to, she could be baptized this Saturday. She said that is what she wanted, so we set the date. I can promise you that when I woke up on Saturday morning, that is not what I prayed for. I guess I need to have more faith!

Another good thing that happened this week is that we got a baptismal date for the end of may with a man named Stanley. He is from Nigeria and is in Norway seeking asylum. He plays for the local soccer team and is really busy with that, but he doesn't have a job or anything, so it is easy enough to meet with him because of that. He attends the Catholic church at the moment, and he knows that he needs to be baptized, but the biggest challenge is just going to be helping him to understand that our church is the only true church on the earth. But we are working on him, and we have good time before the baptism. Also, Paulina got back this week and we are going to meet with her on Wednesday, so hopefully we will be able to get a baptismal date with her as well. The Lord is really blessing us at the moment. He is the best!

For Easter we didn't really do much, we just knocked on a lot of doors. The stores are all closed today so we can't buy groceries, and I just mentioned something about it in passing to a member at church yesterday, so they showed up later at our apartment with a bunch of food for us. They are so kind. But one thing they gave us was oranges and Kvikk Lunsj, which is the traditional Norwegian Easter food. So we did eat that as a celebration. I don't remember if I sent you guys that chocolate, but if I didn't, I should, because it is great. It reminds me a lot of Kit-Kat.

We met with a Muslim family this week and they gave us packets of Tang that are written in Arabic! Cool, right? I guess the world is a little smaller than we think sometimes.

I am so grateful for the way that the Lord is taking care of us. It would be really easy for anyone else to forget about the two 19- year old kids serving in the tiny city of Narvik, nearly 300 kilometers away from any other missionaries, but not the Lord. Not He who is aware of even the fall of the sparrow. I know that He is always with us, and I am a first-hand witness of the way He will shape those who choose to be malleable in His hands.

I look back to the person I was 10 months ago, and I don't even recognize him. The journey hasn't been easy, and I've got a lot of scars. Sometimes it really hurts when the Lord decides to rip off the band-aid of my pride, but it's okay, because I am bleeding hope. I am full of faith, love, and confidence in the way and will of the Lord, and I know that miracles are real today. If we have the faith to let go of our fears and doubts and jump into the darkness, it will be to discover that the Master's whispered words of comfort really were true. We will land in the safety and and warmth of His arms.

During this Easter season, I have been so grateful that the Savior and Redeemer of mankind is risen with healing in His wings to lift those who will come unto Him. I know that He will never fail us. So commit today to come a little closer to Him. Try to be who He is, and I can promise that joy will follow. It has for me, and it always will for those who want it.

I love you all a ton, and express my appreciation for all the kind words. They always seem to come just when I need them most. Thank you for listening to the promptings of the Spirit, and have a great week!

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