Monday, June 30, 2014

A Simple Miracle

Hey Everyone,

It has been a good week, and I am really just loving life. That is such a skill to have, even if it isn't always the easiest one to develop. A lot of things are falling into place in my life and I know that the hand of God is with all of us. So I don't have a lot to complain about.

We weren't able to meet with Kikka this week again, because apparently she is still not back! I am starting to worry that I will never even see her again before I get I am sure we will meet with her again before that, but I guess the end of her vacation is very open to whatever they feel like doing. Which, I can't really blame her, because it sounds like she is living the dream :)

Kai and the Fransen family are both on vacation now, so we haven't been able to meet with either of them this week, which is pretty lame, but kind of how it goes in the summer I think. I keep thinking we need to go on splits with the German missionaries or something, because there are SO MANY German tourists on the streets in Narvik lately that come in on cruise ships and we can't talk to them at all. So it would be nice to have someone that could speak the language. I have been kicking myself a lot lately for not doing more to learn German during my three years in high school. There is no reason I shouldn't have learned fluent German in three years... but that's okay :)

There was a mix up with our plane tickets for zone conference this week.  The AP's told us the plane was leaving in the evening when it really left in the morning, so we missed our flight and had to fly out the next morning, making us late to the conference, but it was good to be able to be with all of the other missionaries anyway and I always enjoy traveling.  It is cool to see what is in the world.

The work tends to be kind of the same a lot in Narvik, so I have been focusing on finding the little miracles every day and being grateful for the divine assistance we receive. For this week, I just wanted to share a short one with all of you.

When the Traveling AP's were in our area, Elder Badger and I were knocking on a few doors before the weekly DL meeting. We didn't really know where to go, so we prayed about it and decided to just visit a few potentials and then tract in the area. The first door we knocked on was a really cool lady that said we could come back, and then at the very next apartment complex, we knocked on the door, and a less-active member answered. We had no idea where they lived and have been trying to be able to work with them for weeks, so I know it was the Lord that led us to their house. We were able to go in and visit with the entire family, as well as give them a Book of Mormon and commit them to share it with a friend this week. We are going to back on Thursday to follow up, but the entire family was in church yesterday and they are all so excited about the work. It's a miracle.

I know that the Lord is helping us in whatever we do, and that if we really on Him, miracles will happen. That is His promise. Miracles follow the believers, so let's all be more committed to being the believers and serving Him. I love you all, have a wonderful week!

The midnight sun. It literally doesn't ever go down, so I wake up at 2 in the morning because the sun is shining in my face. But it's cool :)

The little tiny planes we fly around with up here. It's crazy stuff!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy Sankthansaften!

Norwegians, being Norwegians, have managed to come up with yet another holiday and reason to celebrate. When I was in America, I didn't even know this day existed, but apparently the 24th of June is celebrated as the birthday of John the Baptist, since he was born approximately six months before Christ. But the Norwegians aren't all that worried about that part of it. The reason they like it so much is that June 23rd also happens to be the longest day of the year. Tonight everyone is going to go out to the beaches, make huge crosses out of wood, and have bonfires. It is just one huge barbecue all night long, because here in the land of the midnight sun, the sun never leaves. Talk about party.

It has been a good week for us in Narvik. It is always a little bit difficult being so far north, but we have really seen some miracles. On Monday we knocked doors the whole night and were let into two houses where we were able to teach and testify of the Book of Mormon. That never happens in Norway, so it was incredible to be able to see the Lord's hand in our work. One of the men we taught, Per Gustav, was so open to our message that it caught me off guard. He asked the best questions and understood so well the importance of the message we share. We were blessed with so many new investigators this last weekend, and it is incredible to know that God takes care of His servants.

This week we also got a baptismal date with Kai, an investigator we have been working with for three weeks now. He is going to school here and is so sincere- so humble and willing to find out what God wants for Him in his life. It is so cool to watch people who have never heard of the gospel before read the Book of Mormon, pray about it's divinity, and allow the atonement to change their life. I am so grateful to be a missionary.

Between all of our investigators and Kikka, our recent convert, coming home this week, I am a pretty happy camper. Life is not always easy as a missionary, but it is always good. But here's a message to all you members out there: Go help the missionaries in your ward! They may not be the most talented or the best at interacting with people, but they are all motivated by love and a desire to serve and help you, and the Lord has called every one of them. I have such a testimony that we all have to work together in order to hasten this work.

Enjoy the summer, everyone! Party hard, live hard, and most importantly, love hard. Time moves too fast to waste it. I love you all!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mission Life Is Good

It has been a really good week for us this week. Although summer seems to have kind of come and passed already, life has been cool. We took the long bus ride up to Tromsø for zone leader training again on Wednesday, which is always beautiful, and it was great to see everyone in the zone. I really like the missionaries we have up here in the north. We are having a lot of success at the moment, relatively speaking, in the north, and it is exciting to see how things are going for everyone. The beginning of the week was pretty slow, but we were able to have a good time going out and working.

This week has been something called Byfesten, which just means the city party in Norwegian. There were a lot of things going on as kind of just a summer party, but some of the highlights were a concert at all hours of the night, a helicopter giving rides all over the place, and a European food market on the street right outside our apartment. I bought baklava, Turkish delight, and some Italian pastries, and everything was really delicious.

The traveling assistants got here on Saturday, and it was fantastic to be able to see Elder Badger and Elder Weaver again. They are two of my favorites and we are really good friends. We were able to go out and work hard this weekend with some pretty good success, including many new potentials and 3 new investigators. A family! They are really cool and hopefully really positive. It was Elder Weaver and Forsberg that taught them, so I don't have a ton of details with that, but we have another appointment on Sunday, so I will be able to fill you in more after that. Hopefully things will go really well with them!

Everything is well with Kai this week. We met with him one time with President Nyman, the branch president here, and it went well. He is really willing to read the Book of Mormon and he said he would pray. Hopefully he gets his answer this week, it just seems like he wants to take it a little bit at his own pace. So we will see. Pray for him, we will be trying to get a baptismal date with him this next week.

I am feeling really great about life at the moment. I am starting to understand more about what I can do to continue to make progress as a missionary and a person, so I am excited to get to work. Life is good.

You asked me to tell you more about the walk out to takes about an hour and the bridge is about 400 meters so not too long. They have a pedestrian lane on the bridge and there tend to be a lot of cars going back and forth. But it is beautiful. I am convinced we live in the most beautiful area of the mission. Narvik is amazing.

Today for pday we hiked Narvik mountain which is the mountain we live on, and it was such a beautiful view. It was amazing. But we got up to the top and it was soooo cold. It was crazy windy and my hands got really cold, but it was really worth it.  I hope you enjoy the warmth in Utah, because it is NOT warm here. But that's the north :)

Eldste Childs

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just Walk Toward the Light

Hey everyone! It's been another week in Norway. True to form, the Norwegians have found another reason to skip out on work and school and travel out of the country. The culprit this week? The Pentecost. I feel kind of bad because before my mission, I can't say that I actually knew what the Pentecost was. I had heard the word before but I didn't have a clue (for those of you who don't know what that is, just read Acts chapter 2). But here it is a really big deal. I think it is slightly ironic that although most people here aren't even remotely religious, they have a lot of holidays in the name of Christianity which they use to take a vacation. So this week the stores closed down and people went away, but it was good to be able to think about the ascension of Christ and the day of the Pentecost. I am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost which was poured out on the apostles on that day so many years ago, because I would have no chance of succeeding in this work without it.

Life is going well as normal in Narvik. I have officially knocked on every door in the city, That posed a slight problem at first, but now we are walking out to Ankenes a lot to try the houses there, so it has been good to mix things up a little bit. It is about an hour to walk out there, and I have really enjoyed the sun shining on the fjord and the mountains here. It is all so beautiful! It is moments like that where I just have to stop and thank God for everything He has given us. Even though life isn't always easy and the work isn't always booming, I have so many blessings that I ought to be grateful for, and sometimes it takes the little things to really make us understand God's love.

This week we taught a few lessons, but the highlight was definitely an investigator we have named Kai. He is 18 years old and loves to skate, but he is so curious about things and is interested in God. It is great to be able to sit down with Him and explain God's plan and then sit and watch the Spirit work on him. Watch it testify of the truth. He has the best questions and I just know that God's hand is in the work and that He leads us.

Other than that, it has been a lot of finding this week, and it has been tough to fight off the monotony. To be honest, it's been pretty rough and it has looked kind of dark at times. I always wondered why- I thought missionaries were supposed to be full of light always. Always sure of themselves and always successful and always filled with the Spirit. But one day it dawned on me that in the middle of all my worries and doubts and fear, the Spirit has always been there. God has never left me. Even when the path has been dark around me, and I haven't known where to walk, every time I lift my sight and look at the goal ahead, the light is there and I still have direction. I may not always see clearly around my feet, but I know where I am going and I know that as I take my steps of faith into the darkness, the Spirit will light my way. So remember when they going gets tough and the mists of darkness close in: It is best to look up. Just walk toward the Light. I can promise that no matter how dark the night may seem, the Light of Christ will never fade and will always be there to light our way.

 We got to give service this week. FINALLY! we picked up garbage in the city.

I am in love with the nature here. Mountains and fjords all the time. It is beautiful and it is the best!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Today we went out fishing, and I caught a fish! Well, I actually caught six fish, but they all were all really small, so I threw them back. I can't believe that I am telling you a "the one that got away" story right now, but the one time I actually got a big fish on my line, he was almost too heavy for my fishing pole, so it was hard to get it up, but I got him almost up to the dock and he came off the hook. I was really disappointed because I was going to eat that one, but it was fun to "catch" it anyway, and the fishing was great! It was good weather and good water and just a lot of fun.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Atonement - The Greatest Gift of All

Well, it's been another great week in Narvik. The sun is shining and it has finally gotten a little bit warm. For a few days there, it was even 20 degrees (I would translate that over to Fahrenheit, but my brain only works in Celsius at the moment, so sorry about that)! I don't have a whole lot to report as far as the work goes, because it has been a lot of the same things lately. Knocking on doors, contacting people on the streets, and trying to track down old investigators or potential investigators. But that's alright because there must be opposition in all things.

I have been thinking and studying a lot lately about the Atonement, and one scripture in particular that I read really caught my attention this week:

"And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law, no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever" (2 Nephi 2:5).

That scripture really hit me like it never has before, because man, we really are lost forever if left to our own devices. As I started to think more deeply about our plight here on earth so far away from our loving Heavenly Parents, I began to think about my own life.

I imagined that I was in a large warehouse filled with piles upon piles of boxes and crates. Confused, I looked around and pulled open the box nearest me, only to discover that it was filled with pictures. I pulled another box to my side and found only bundles of letters tied together with string. I read the note connected to the top envelope and gasped as I realized what they were. These weren't any ordinary letters. These were written by me. I dug out a bundle of papers and read the caption: "Words I have Used to Build Others Up." I picked another and read: "Kind Words I Have Said to a Stranger."

Realizing this was a warehouse filled with the record of my life, my interest grew and I began to move around the room. I opened a box of pictures and cringed as I read: "Times I Could Have Helped Another But Didn't-" Those were pictures I didn't want to see. I side-stepped a box labeled "Laziness" to open one filled with video-cassettes capturing the ways I have helped my mother.

In some categories I was pleased with the things that I found, but in many there were either too many, or too few boxes to be found. I moved to the darker corners of the room and jumped back, filled with horror at the things I found and the detail captured. I kicked at those boxes, determined that no one must every see the things they contained, but to no avail. I ran back to the center of the room, shuddering, only to find one little container no larger than a matchbox, standing in the middle of a patch of sun light coming through a whole in the roof.

Surrounded by mountains of boxes, I couldn't contain my curiosity as I wondered what could possibly be in this box, so clearly the center of the collection. I picked it carefully up and read a sticky-note placed on one, small index card. It read, "People I Have Shared the Gospel With."

I sank gently to the floor, crying as the enormity of the shame I experienced washed over me. I could not bear the thought of looking at any more boxes for the realization of my own miserable state overwhelmed me. I sat there and burned with the shame of it all, and suddenly the lights went out with a whoosh, leaving me to wallow in my own self-pity, surrounded by my weaknesses and guilt. The pain that I experienced was unbearable and there was only one thought that consumed my back: I had to destroy this place. I reached into my pocket and found matches. I tried furiously to light anything and everything on fire- to burn that place to the ground. My vision blurred and I used every single match in that box, but it didn't make a difference. Nothing would burn, nor would the boxes move after I had decided to destroy them.

Trapped in my own guilt and shame, I crawled miserably through the murky darkness to the darkest corner I could find and curled up in a ball there. I wept into my knees for what seemed like an eternity, resigned to endure my pain forever. The anguish of my soul burned through any other emotion or thought I had- I had failed. I had failed the test.

In the middle of this torture of my being, I light suddenly flashed on near the entrance and I saw Him. His eyes met mine, and I couldn't bear the sadness there, looking into my soul from His perfect face. I couldn't believe that He had come. Anyone but Him! I tried desperately to hide the worst boxes, but it was still no use. He continued to walk sadly through the boxes, calmly picking them up one by one and examining the contents. I longed to stop Him as I watched His composure remain the same- beautiful, graceful, and magnificent- but with each new box the sadness grew deeper in His eyes.

He took each box he went through, and tore my name off the contents, replaced with His, and placed it in a bag He was carrying. One by one, the boxes disappeared into His bag, and in what seemed like a heartbeat, He was suddenly finished. He walked slowly to me, and I couldn't bear to look Him in His eyes. But I forced myself to do it, and the love I saw there washed over me and I couldn't hold back the tears. He left me gently to my feet, and cried with me. Everything about the way He acted told me that He forgave me, and the love I felt washed through my entire body, erasing the memory of everything I had just experienced. I wanted that moment to last forever, and I was filled with gratitude for the task He had accomplished which I could not do myself.

He put His arm around me as the lights came back on, and we walked together out the door, into the cool night air.

I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, because without it, I would be nothing. Without Him, I am nothing.

Have a great week!