Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29

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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15

Hey everyone, I hope you all are doing well. I am just sitting here in my office, enjoying a jule brus (which means Christmas soda and is delicious. It is a Norwegian specialty, and it is amazing), and looking out the window at the green grass on the ground. What? I thought I was in Norway, but this winter has been even more mild than the last one. Weird stuff. But it's a good life, it really is. I don't have a whole lot of time, so I am going to give you the events of the week bullet-point style this time. So here we go.

  • We went in to get a rock chip in the windshield of the van fixed only to find out that we actually need to get the entire windshield replaced because it is that deep. Looks like we will be spending some time in the shop.
  • We had a "burny" pday with an elder who finished his mission on Thursday. We did all the cool things that can be done in Oslo all in one day, and it was great fun.
  • We made the hour-long trip to the airport four times during the week, so we had a lot of time to listen to great talks. We have been listening to the mission presidents' seminar lately, and it is so good. The apostles really care about this work.
  • We went to the annual Jul i toner (Christmas in tones, or notes...that's a bad translation, but you get the point :) concert and it was so good. I was reminded of how much I love music and I can't wait to get involved in that again.
  • I got a lot of packages and letters from people, and you all had such clever ideas. A special thank you to everyone who has been sending me Christmas tree ornaments. You are the best! 
  • We worked hard to share "He is the Gift" with everyone that we met. I listened to a talk this week that really changed the way I look at missionary work. I want to spend the next 6 months of my life finding people in the Lord's way and being the best missionary I can possibly be. I love this work. 
  • Our apartment is starting to feel more like a home and less like a warehouse, so that feels nice. We even went to IKEA to get a few things this week, and in the process discovered that IKEA food is so cheap and so good. Too bad it's Swedish. We got a used exercise bike from someone and we are getting settled in.
In short, it's been a great week, and I can't even begin to tell you all about it, but I guess that's why I have 60 years after I come home to talk about it, right? I hope you all have a wonderful week and always pray to have eyes to see the unseen opportunities to share the gospel. The Lord leads us to people or people to us all the time- all we have to do is look for them. Go make a difference! I love you all!

This is me being burny with Elder Clarke back at Holmenkollen. So weird that I was there one year ago....

the office grind....

We went to a viking museum and it was the best. The vikings were so cool! They found tons of ships buried in a place called T√łnsberg in Norway, and I drove there last week. It was pretty cool.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 8

Hey everybody, it's been another great week! Time is going quick, and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This was the first real week with snow that I have had so far this year, so that was nice for a change. It's not fun driving in, though, but that just takes me back to my Utah days. The days are getting shorter and colder, but it is also starting to feel a lot more cozy and to be a lot more like what people typically imagine when they think of Norway. Little wooden houses with smoke coming out the chimney from the fire in the fireplace, snow covering the trees and rooftops, small trolls walking all over the place, the whole lot. Well, most of that is true anyway. But I really have no idea what people imagine when they think of Norway, but I can tell you this much: Norway is the best.

This week we have been working really hard to prepare for some conferences that are going to happen in January, so we have spent a lot of time in the office looking at our computer screens. It was actually a pretty tough week as far as the work goes, because we didn't really ever have time to go out, but the Lord blessed us anyway. We spent most of the week pleading with the Lord for some success, and it wasn't looking so good on Sunday. But we got out and taught a wonderful woman named Liv Lund and her son Matthias. The Spirit was so strong as we taught and testified of the gospel, and they both committed to be baptized on the 10th of January. Pray for her, because she really needs the gospel. 

We are also working with Jon Axel still, and he is such a good man. He could be a member except for the fact that he isn't baptized yet. We serve him every week and desire so deeply for him to be baptized, but he just can't seem to recognize the answers he is receiving from Heavenly Father. Sometimes as missionaries we want everything to happen right now, because we work in the short term. But sometimes God's plan is a little broader than that. Ultimately, the most important thing will always be love, and that is the biggest thing we can do to help God's children along the path. So we will just continue to love Jon Axel.

Life is so good, and I am so happy. I am making so many friends in the ward here, and I am going to love the time I have to spend serving the good people in Sandvika. We decided that this week we are going to have an "English fast" where we only speak Norwegian. Our mission is really young, but I am excited for the opportunity to speak the language and work for the gift of tongues.

The work is going forward, and I just want to be a part of it. I hope you all do too! Love you all, and we will talk next week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 1

Hey everyone, I thought last week went by quickly, but I was in for a surprise, because this week was even faster. Life has been such a blur of events, and it just seems like one continual day for me now. My train-ride from Trondheim to Oslo actually went really well, and I was able to meet a lot of really great people on the way. I had a travel buddy, Sister Robbins, to talk to along the way, so it didn't end up being too bad. It feels really good to be back in the Oslo area. For those of you who remember, last year I began my mission by serving in Oslo, and I was there for quite a long time. I am now in Sandvika, which is a suburb/city about 20 minutes outside of Oslo, so although I am in a new ward, it feels good to be home. And some of my friends from Oslo have even moved to this ward while I was away, so it feels great to be back.

I got to the office on Thursday, and we got right into business, and we haven't really stopped since. Which I like. It is really good to be busy, and time goes quickly. Life has been a whirlwind of buying plane tickets and organizing meetings and transfers and working to make sure everything in the mission goes smoothly. There is a lot to learn, but it is a great adventure. 

My duties now as AP include a lot of logistics things. We are in charge of tickets for all of the splits for missionaries in the mission (zls, sister training leaders, dls, etc.) and so that is crazy enough in and of itself. We also are in charge of organizing everything for the mission report every week for President Evans, and we do a lot for that. We also do a lot of things that President needs, like evaluating different statistics in preparation for different meetings he has. It is just a lot of crazy practical stuff to keep everything going smoothly. The church keeps really meticulate records, so we are always updating things on their database. They know every area, companion, and call each missionary has had, on top of all the key indicators they get for their whole mission. And on top of everything else, President Evans basically treats us like his counselors, so we spend a lot of time talking with him about the transfer and different missionaries and who should get what call, etc. So life is good. We get to the office around 7:30, then we work until at least 2, then try to do some things for our own proselyting area, then we are always back to the office around 8 o clock to do more office chores. We have been getting back home around 10:30, so everything really just blends together. It's fun :)  One of our other responsibilities is to go on splits with all of the zone leaders every transfer, so we will be travelling at least 4 times a month, plus zone conferences and different meetings that we will be going to. So we will be doing quite a bit of travelling.

Even though we are extremely busy, we also have been doing our best with proselyting so that we can be a good example in the way we work in our own area as well, and it went fairly well this week. We had one of the most spiritual teaches of my mission with a man named Jon Axel on Friday, and I know that he is going to be baptized. He is nervous to make that big step in his life, but his son, who was baptized last December, joined us in the teach and pleaded with his father to be baptized and join him on the path which leads to eternal life. The tears were flowing and the Spirit bore powerful testimony that the church was true. I left that appointment feeling so refreshed and energized, and I am so grateful for the opportunity we have as missionaries to be a tool in the Lord's hands. 

The Sandvika ward is really great, and I am loving serving here. We had a ward Thanksgiving party which was hosted by Sister Evans, and it was great to be able to meet all the members. I already have some good friends, and I can tell that it is going to be a fun time in my mission to be here in Sandvika. I think I am tired all the time, and we are working from 7:30 to 22:30 everyday, but it is so worth it. I love going out to find the Lord's elect. I love being relentless, and I love looking back and seeing the way the Lord's hand is in our lives. 

The Rasmussens are still in the YSA center, and I am so excited to be back where I can see them again! They are the best :) We are actually going to go down to a Thanksgiving dinner (with all the normal Thanksgiving goodies :) that Sister Rasmussen is making for the missionaries later today, so that will be a lot of fun. They are like my second parents out here in Norway.

It has been great to serve with my companion, Elder Skinner, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us. I hope you all have had a great week, and just know that I love you!

Thanksgiving Dinner at the YSA Center

Thanksgiving Feast!

With Elder Rasmussen