Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22

Well Everyone, This is it. My final hours in Norway are quickly approaching, and I don't really know what to think. I am so excited to see everyone I love again, but I struggle with the thought of leaving all the people I love so much here. I love my purpose as a missionary. I love finding, teaching, and baptizing. Luckily, none of that has to end when the tag comes off :) I have learned so much over the past two years. Sometimes I look back at that young kid who arrived in Norway: inexperienced, excited, burning with a desire to serve, maybe a little prideful. Boy have I changed as I have been put through the refiner's fire. Sometimes I don't recognize myself. I have learned more about who I am and I have seen so many people change their lives because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have learned to plan and set goals and work like crazy until they are achieved. I have learned to laugh through the hard times. But I think my favorite lesson I have learned in this wonderful country is the way that God speaks to me through His Spirit and the way that Spirit works on and through others. There is nothing that could be so valuable in life as the ability to recognize and follow the Holy Spirit. Not just any Spirit - a member of the Godhead whose specific assignment is to help us through our lives in a way that only He can and only a loving Father in Heaven could provide. I am committed to following Him diligently for the rest of my life, and I can't wait to see the experiences I continue to have. 

And to add to all of the sentimentality of the bittersweet moment, we were able to have a baptism this week. Elisabeth made it! I am so proud of her, and I can't wait to see the growth she continues to make as she works toward entering the House of the Lord and making covenants with Him there. There was some drama leading up to the baptism (ask me when I get home), but the meeting was so special and there was such a sweet spirit there. It was wonderful to watch the ward members take her in so perfectly as the symbolic culmination of all of my efforts here in Stavanger. What an amazing thing a baptism is. It is essentially the culmination of everything that missionary work is. The missionaries and the members working together in concert to help a person make one of the most important commitments they will make in their lives, and the Spirit is so strong every time. I love this work. 

I am really sad as I say goodbye to everyone and everything I love, but I know that there are good things to come. Here is a quote I love: "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." I am ready to keep moving, because in this church, it is always onward and upward. Moving forward toward our eternal home. These have been the best two years of my life so far, but I know that I have so many more amazing years to come. Life is so good :) I have appreciated all of the support I have received on my journey, and I can't wait to return the favor. I guess we will see you all in the states! Or wherever you happen to be :) Godspeed to all of you. I love you all!

Signing out for the final time,

Elder Dallin Bruce Childs

The Redfords, as well as Casper next to me on the right.

Elisabeth's baptism!

The Steffenson's

 Onward and Upward!

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15

Hello Friends and Family,

Weird to be writing this email right now.... to be honest, I doubt that I am going to write much of a blog post next week, so for those of you who are my avid followers, sorry. But I will definitely post something to wrap things up, so stay tuned. This is my last full week as a missionary, and that means a couple of things. First, it means that it is all of your last full week without me. For some of you, that is really exciting, so get excited and I will see you next week! For some others, however, it may be kind of sad, and I'm sorry, but I am coming home anyway ;) Second, it means that time is going really quickly, and Elisabeth's baptism is coming up this Wednesday! So far so good as far as the smoking goes, and she passed her baptismal interview this week. We are going to finish teaching her the last of the laws and ordinances tonight and she will be good to go. It is so exciting! I have been stressing out hard core for the last few weeks trying to get her off of nicotine, and with the help of the ward, a lot of follow-up, and often, mighty, prayer, she is doing it! Elisabeth has made so many changes to her life, and I am so proud of her for it. Pictures to come.

All of you back home are enjoying summer right now, but it doesn't really feel as if summer has arrived in Stavanger. All the kids are still in school this week, and the warmth hasn't really come. We have seen glimpses of the sun, and days that were almost balmy, but Jack Frost is hanging on with everything he's got, and we haven't quite managed to shake him yet. I guess I will have to wait until America to experience the summer time. We will see if I can get used to that. 

I am trying to think of all the exciting things that have happened this week. We had a zone conference, and as a part of the meeting I gave my final testimony (burnimony, as it is called here in the mission) and sang/played a tear-jerking rendition of "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" with Elders Gunther, Halverson, and Nielson. Our mission president is also going home now, so it was a tender moment for many as we all reminisced on the things we have learned over the years. We met an American NFL player who wants a copy of the Book of Mormon, and we spent a lot of time meeting with Elisabeth and helping her. We had a pretty full week, and that helped me a lot to be able to take my mind off of the coming events. Despite all the excitement that I have, it really is going to break my heart to have to leave Norway. I promise I will be excited when I see you all again, but until that plane takes off, it is really hard for me to say goodbye. I am experiencing so many emotions right now, and I feel like they are on such completely different ends of the spectrum that those around me have got to think that I am bi-polar or something. It is like I am being stretched to my limits by two engulfing forces. But I am surviving and so grateful for this week I have to work :) I am going to finish the Book of Mormon before I leave as well, and guess what. It's true. It's so true. 

I love you all and I am so grateful for all of the support you have given me over the past two years. I can't wait to tell you all of my experiences next time we meet, because I've had many. Until then, try to be a tool in the hands of God, and have a wonderful week! Sending my love from Norway!

Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8

Hey again! I really don't get to say that too many more times. I am sitting here in Stavanger just loving life. It really is the best. We went to Preikestolen again today and it was amazing :) This time the weather was great, the view was clear, and no one died again, which is always a bonus. It felt so good to get out in nature and get some actual excercise in. Norway is epic. As far as the missionary work goes, we had another great week. We are working really closely with Elisabeth to get her baptized. We have moved her date to the 17th of June, and all signs point to success with her. We talk to her every day, and on Saturday we went over with the Whitakers (bless their hearts, they are so amazing) and cleaned Elisabeth's apartment to try to get some of the smoke smell out of it, and it worked really well, but it was also sorely needed. It took about 4 hours, but we made a big difference, and it is going to be easier for her to not smoke if she doesn't have to sit there and smell the smoke all day. So now we just need to keep her motivated to not buy anymore cigarettes and we will be good to go. She is so sincere and wants so badly to have the gift of the Holy Ghost in her life. As for Erlend, he is doing well also. He is making steps in his life to come unto Christ and be baptized, but he has some bigger steps that he needs to take and may take a little longer, but he is really changing and it is so fun to see the light in his eyes. He will be baptized one day. I like him a lot.

The ward was having a campout this week, so we went and took part on Friday evening and then left again that night. It was a lot of fun, and the activities included archery, a barbecue, beach volleyball, some campfire games and a spiritual thought. It was a lot of fun to be with the members, and I think that everyone grew closer and it was good to be together. A couple of the members brought their owns bows, and we had a bit of an archery competition. We had outlined clear boundaries which everyone was to stay within and there were rules for when you could shoot, where you could walk and when, and how we could shoot to ensure safety. Despite all our best efforts, however, at one point a kid from the ward ran out in front of the firing range while people were shooting. Some of the bows those guys had were burying arrows in the hill behind our targets, so there was some obvious danger there. Luckily, one of the members of the bishopric quickly yelled, "STOP, STOP, STOP!" and everything was okay, but everyone's heart rate was definitely up a bit. It reminded me of life, because we have boundaries clearly lined out for us by the prophets of the Lord, and if we stay within those boundaries we will be okay and stay clear of any danger. But as soon as we step over those boundaries, we have no promises, and by no stretch of the imagination we could easily be that little boy in front of a line of archers. We wouldn't stand a chance. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have every day to tell people about these boundaries that have been set for us by a loving God. I am so grateful for Him and I love Him with all of my heart. Stay within those boundaries, I promise, it's worth it! 

I love you all and hope that you have a great week :) Later!

Monday, June 1, 2015

June 1

Can you believe that it is already June? Time is going so quick, school is out, and summer is officially here. Well, in some parts of the world. In Stavanger it is still pretty cold and rainy, but that is pretty typical. We had a great week filled with teaching Elisabeth and Erlend and trying to get them to have the desire to quit smoking. They both have a desire to be baptized and are so close, but just feel that they aren't strong enough to quit smoking right now. It is so hard to have patience sometime, but I know that they are going to make it. Christ will help them. It was a little frustrating that neither of them were able to come to church, but they will make it next time. 

I have a quick little story to tell, and then I have to go. We have a recent convert in the ward named Casper, and he is really awesome :) He has become one of my best friends here and he is deaf. I have learned sign language recently so that I can communicate with him, and he is just one of the most solid guys I have ever met. An absolute rockstar. Sometimes it breaks my heart that more people can't communicate with him because he has so many awesome things to say. I translate for him in church, and this sacrament meeting the primary kids got up to sing a song during a couple of the talks. They began to sing and it was beautiful, and I wished that I could communicate that beautiful experience to Casper through my hands, but it just isn't the same. Then when the kids got to the chorus they began to sign along with the text. It was such a little thing, but it was such a sweet experience because those kids had understood that there was someone who needed help and they had done what they could to reach out to someone in need. Tears came to my eyes and Casper was crying as they finished the song. It has been great to watch the Stavanger ward reach out in their own way to welcome even someone who can't hear into their family. We need the members in this work. We can't do it without you. Have a great week and happy June!

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25

We hiked up Preikestolen today, so we don't have a ton of time, but I am doing so well :) 

Elisabeth committed to be baptized on the 21st of June this week, and committed to stop smoking by the 14th, so now it is time to rally the troops! Please keep her in her prayers, because she is going to need all the help she can get, but I believe that she can do it, and it is going to be awesome. We are just going to involve her tons with all of the members and meet with her lots and steal all of her cigarettes. We also moved Erlend's baptism to the 21st for convenience sake, so there will be two baptisms on my last Sunday. That will be nice :) 

Erlend is doing well. He is Norwegian, and has lived in Sandnes for his whole life. He is married and has two kids, but the government isn't allowing him to see them because they wanted to give him some kind of pills because they said he needed them and he refused to take them so they deemed him not able to be a father. Interesting story, but to make it short, he isn't very happy about it. He has always had some views that he hasn't found in any church and was able to find in talking with Daniel, his friend who is a member. He is also really struggling with the family situation and needs help, and he is finding it in God and Christ. It's awesome. He was in Kristiansand this week and he still went to church there. He is awesome.  

We haven't been able to meet with Hanna this week because everyone was really busy, but hopefully we will be able to next week.

Here are some pictures of our hike today:

These pictures look even more epic because of the fog and rain. Good times!  Preikestolen is the best thing ever :)

Chillin with my best buddy Elder Gunther. Isn't it incredible???

Linn Steffensen, one of the Steffensens, came with us on the hike. I love that family so much, and we are going over there tonight with Elisabeth. It is going to be the best :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18

What an awesome week. Always. I am starting to realize that I don't really get to write that very many more times, and that is a scary thought. But Norway is great and this week was especially good because we celebrated the country's birthday on the 17th! And if you remember from last year, that is a pretty big deal for Norwegians. The awkward part of the whole thing is that the holiday was on a Sunday this year, which made life a little bit interesting, but the Norwegians have a tenacious history when it comes to their national day celebrations and this year, true to form, church was shortened to an hour and moved to 6 pm, and we were all free to enjoy the parades, rain or shine. Turns out we had a little of both.

There was a children's parade, live music, a citizen's parade in which everyone was welcome to participate, the main parade, and a lot of street vendors. I am proud to say that we didn't spend a dime yesterday :) Or a crown... We were, however, able to enjoy the day thoroughly, and I am grateful to have been able to have the experience. There seemed to be a bit more happening here than there was last year in Narvik :) 

One other thing jumps out to me when I think of the highlights of the week, and that is the fact that we were able to get a baptismal date with a guy named Erlend. He is amazing and a lot of fun to talk to, and it is so fun to see the desire that he has to come closer to Christ and be baptized. It is amazing when we don't have to force things on people; when they are the driving force. I literally live to teach out here in Norway. When we are teaching life is amazing. I don't have a care in the world other than the investigator sitting in front of me and the Spirit. And quite frankly, that's the way I prefer it. I like being consecrated, and I am hooked on the feeling that comes when the Spirit flows through me as a tool in God's hands to touch the open heart of investigator. There is nothing like it.

Erlend has been to church three times already, and he is preparing to be baptized on the 19th of June. That is going to be a wonderful day for the church in Stavanger. 

On a slightly less spiritual note, there was a cruise ship in Stavanger today carrying tons of Nu Skin employees who are members from Utah, so if you know someone who is on that cruise to Norway, I probably met them today and they probably told me to tell you hello. So hello everybody! :) There's my mass shout-out. It was a lot of fun to see so many members in the city and to be able to be recognized by so many. I feel like I got a little taste of what it is like to be a missionary in Utah. 

Missions are so good and Christ is so good. Listen to his promises, because He never lies. Thanks for all the support and have an amazing week!

We had a lot of fun on the 17th!  This is me and a lot of Norwegians in their Bunads. It's the traditional dress of the country and I think it is really awesome :) 

Me and Elder Allen by the Flag.

Me and some Russ girls who somehow randomly knew who the Mormons were. I think one of them lived in Utah or something. I thought you would like to see what Russ is (Norwegian graduation celebration that is celebrated on and around the 17th of May).

Why Not?

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11

Hey everyone, I have the best family ever! If you don't know them, you should get to know them, because they are amazing :) It was wonderful talking to everyone and it's so good to know that they are all still real :) Still there in Utah, right where I left them. Sometimes out here on a mission I forget there is a life outside of Norway, so it is good to get a little reminder. I am not going to spend a lot of time emailing today, but I love being a missionary! There is nothing like it. There is nothing like being able to focus on helping other people 24/7; nothing like waking up every morning to change and improve yourself; and there is nothing to compare with the joy that comes with being a missionary. Helping other people is the best thing I've ever done and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do it.

I am moving into my last transfer now, and that is a weird feeling and I have a lot of mixed emotions about it. The dominant one for now, however, is an overwhelming desire to keep the focus and work harder than ever. I want to run to the finishline, finish strong, and return with honor. Despite everything that has happened over the course of the last two years and all the growth I have seen, I still feeling like I am climbing frantically to the climax of my mission. I feel like the peak is just on the horizon and that if I could only climb faster, jump higher, I could reach the top. There is so much to do and not enough time, so I am going to give it everything I've got. I'm committed to that :) It reminds me of the scripture in Alma 34:33:

"And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had somany witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; forafter this day of life, which is given us to prepare foreternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while inthis life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein therecan be no labor performed."

And that's not to say that I feel like I have any great repenting to do, but we are given this time to improve ourselves, ot prepare and to constantly grow. I am not going to waste it now or ever. I am so grateful for the opportunity we have each day to be a better person than we were yesterday. To stand a little taller and smile a little bigger. To reach out to one more person and to think about ourselves a little less. The gospel is amazing. If we live it, we become the product of day after day, year after year, of being put through the refiner's fire, and we come out on the other side as perfect, glorified individuals. I think that's amazing.

I love you all, and to all you mothers, Happy Mother's Day!

Elder Nielson came to visit and it was great fun :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 4

I guess you could say it's been the week of splits this week. We had splits with the ward on Tuesday, I went to Haugesund on Wednesday and Thursday, and we had Elder Stookey from Bergen visiting on Friday. So it's been pretty crazy,a but we survived and it was a really great week. Here are some highlights:

  • On Monday we went to lake a ways away from the city to hang out and grill hot dogs and I was able to pet a swan. I literally thought it was going to try to kill me for a minute there, but it turns out he was nice and we became really good friends :) In Stavanger there are swans, ducks, and pidgeons all over the place, and the city always feels really alive because of it. Except for not the pidgeons. Pidgeons are basically just like rats here. Sometimes people, usually foreigners, will walk over to the pond and dump a loaf of bread or something in the water, and the seagulls go crazy. They all rush on that bread and become savages. At times like those I usually wish that I had an umbrella for fear of getting a nice present from a bird flying overhead... but now I am side-tracked
  • On Friday we went out to Hanna's house at Tau with the Icelandice family and she made us really delicious food then we were able to talk about the scriptures and the gospel. She is so nice and so sincere and I know she is going to love our church. Unfortunately she wasn't able to come this week, but we will get her there next week.
  • Elisabeth (updated spelling) came to Family History Night this week at the church, and she LOVED it. They took such great care of her there. She was able to find one of her great-grandmothers who was a member and went really far back on her line. The spirit of Elijah is real and Elisabeth is feeling it. She is also going to come to church and it is going to be amazing.
  • I took a 2 hour bus trip to Haugesund and it was a lot of fun. That was one of the areas that I hadn't been to yet, so it was exciting to see new places and have some miracles over there. It's a beautiful city, and for those of you who are into heavy metal, they had a huuuge concert while we were there. That made missionary work a bit interesting :) 
The work is going really well in Stavanger and we see miracles every single day. We are having so much success setting goals and working to reach them, and I am convinced of the power of goals and planning. So many times this week we have gone out with the intent of reaching our goals and we have felt specific promptings from the spirit, leading us to that one person who was prepared to be a new investigator. I have been thinking a lot about the scripture in Alma 37:6-7 6: 

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

I suppose at this late stage in my mission I could be considered "wise," but day after day I continue to be amazed at the way the Lord works for the blessing of His children here in Norway. Sometimes I even get promptings which lead to absolutely nothing and it turns out that was only timing. But I have to follow them or the miracles that happened later could never have happened. That probably doesn't make any sense, but there is no way for us to know what God's plan is in our life, and I don't think that is an accident. It is a part of the process by which we develop faith, and I know that as soon as we realize and trust that God has a good plan for us in our lives, we will be able to meet the challenges that come our way and follow our own personal promptings with fearlessness - something we should all strive to do. I know that God loves us and will not forsake us as we go through this life, so please: come unto Him. There is nothing that has blessed me more than putting God first in my life.

Thank you for all your support and we will talk next week!

Elder Stookey came to visit this week and we made a cake for Elder Nilsson's bday :)

A swan because why not?

we made steak this week in our matching aprons :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 27

It's been a good week for me this week :) The district did well again, and that always makes me happy. There is so much suspense leading up to the numbers report every week, but this was a good one, and I was grateful for that. We just need to get people to church and baptize them! As missionaries, life goes in 6 week cycles, but the rest of the world doesn't work that way, so sometimes it is hard when things don't happen as quickly as we want them to. But we have good things that are happening.

The two most positive people Elder Broadbent and I are working with at the moment are Lisabeth and Hanna. We have been working with Lisabeth for a few weeks now, and she is doing great. We take members over to her house 3 times a week and tonight we are going to bring her to the Steffensens' (my favorite family in Stavanger) house to have a kosekveld together (and no, for those of you who just looked that up on google translate, it doesn't mean snuggle evening). Koselig is such a hard word to explain, but it just means it will be... uh.... pleasant. Wow, I am gagging a bit because of the way that sounds in English. Haha it will be a nice night :) We are going to play some music together first, probably some arrangements of hymns on the piano, guitar, and mandolin with some singing in there too, then we will have some food and a lesson. It is going to be great, and I think Lisabeth is going to love it. Our goal is to get her in church this week, and I think we've got her now.

We are also teaching Hanna and she is great. She is that lady from Ethiopia who we got referred to us a couple of weeks ago from the new converts in Iceland. She came to church yesterday with Kristjana and had so many great questions about our church. She asked us if we could come visit her this week (if you've been a missionary, you know that's significant) and she asked if we could have more time than last time. I can't wait to go teach her again and help her receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. Watching people change their lives is the best part about being a missionary.

Two months are left, and I don't even know what that means anymore. I am lost in time and I don't really know what is going on, all I know is that at some point it is going to spit me out, rather confused, back home. And I know that is going to be pretty soon. But other than that, it just seems like life as usual and I am grateful for the opportunity to work hard and save some souls out here in Norway. It's an amazing place, just look at the pictures. 

One scripture which really hit me this week is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation prepare a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."

That is huge! God is so merciful, and I am so grateful for the knowledge that in a world filled with temptations, we are stronger than all of them. God will never let us fall if we have faith in Him. That's a promise that I have learned to rely on.

Just wanted to give a huge shout-out to my little brother Alex who is headed on his mission July 22nd to the Philippines!!! He is going to be one heck of a missionary. Good luck, little bro!

I love you all and hope you have a great week :)

We went and saw one of the two original Christus statues in the world. It is in the church literally right across the street from my apartment! So cool! Also, we took some pictures on the boat to Tau :) 

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20

It's been another great week :) Lots and lots of sun and a lot of great people we have met and things we have done. We just keep trying to build the work, and hopefully it will be better when we leave than when we came. One of the highlights of the week was when we were out contacting on Thursday. No one was really interested in talking to us and it seemed that everyone was really busy. I don't know why in the world today everyone thinks they don't have time for anything. I can't imagine Jesus Christ or God rushing around. But that's a side note :) It seems that lately God always blesses us with a miracle just after the point when I begin to doubt and have to make the decision to continue on in faith. He forces us  to stretch to our limits and then gives us His grace so that we can accomplish the work which He has sent us here to do. And that was exactly the case on Thursday.

We were walking by the pond in the middle of Stavanger and the sun was shining. It was great. We walked around the corner and I saw a kid sitting on a bench with his hood up, and I knew immediately that we needed to talk to him. I wish I could say that we ran right over to him and struck up a conversation, but I have to admit that I fought the prompting a little bit. There were a lot of people sitting on either side of him and I knew it would be a little awkward to walk up and start talking about the gospel in the crowd. So we talked to a few more people, but I couldn't shake the feeling, and if there is one thing I have learned on my mission, it's that when a prompting comes, I need to follow it. Always. So I told Elder Broadbent and we walked over and began to talk. As soon as we got there he scooted over to let us sit down, almost as though he had been waiting for us to come talk to him the whole time. We began to talk and the conversation moved quickly over to the gospel (as it tends to do with missionaries :). It turns out that he feels that there is no meaning in life and doesn't see the purpose in living. We were able to bear testimony to him of the Plan of Salvation and the reason we are here on the earth, and he wanted to hear more. He wants that joy in his life which we promised we could give him, and he was so prepared to accept our message. His name is Jason and I can't wait to meet with him again next week.

Life is really good, that's all I can say. I am sure you are all pretty sick of hearing about it, but I love the mission. Go on missions, people. It's the best. Thanks for all your support and we will talk to you next week!

Our hike to "sverd i fjell" or sword in the mountains.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Fever

This has been my first full week in Stavanger, and I am going to start this weeks blog post with a really bold statement: I have never been happier on my mission. Ever! There are probably a lot of reasons, but I am in love with life and spring has entered full-force into Norway. I have joy and life is so good :) I don't fully understand why I have this feeling, but I do know there are at least a few reasons. Reason number one: the work is going so well right now. Literally Stavanger is doing amazing at the moment. Actually, my whole district is on fire and it is so much fun. All of the missionaries have so much energy and we see miracles every single day. I have never been in a better district and I have never seen the Lord pour out His mercy upon us to bless us like He is doing now. We have done a lot to try to work more completely with the ward and for weeks and weeks now I have prayed that we will be able to find people to baptize so that we can be obedient to the Lord's challenge to us through His prophet to work together as members and missionaries. There are so many prepared people in Stavanger and they are being led to us.

One of the biggest miracles we saw this week happened when we were at a place called Tau, visiting some of our recent converts. They are a family from Iceland and are absolutely wonderful. They have the cutest kids and are so nice and really fun to be around. While we were talking with them, the wife mentioned that she had been talking to one of her neighbors about the gospel and that she wanted to come to church next week. We were, of course, really excited to hear the good news and committed her to give the invitation and follow up so she actually came. When we left, we were running late to catch our boat, so I had kind of a "last chopper out of Vietnam" kind of feeling. We did not want to get stuck out on Tau, so we were rushing back when we heard a voice above us say (in Norwegian), "Hey, wait! Was it you who just visited my neighbor?" We answered yes and she asked, "Would you be able to teach me about your church as well?" My jaw dropped. She turned out to be that same neighbor who we had talked about earlier, and she is so positive. We arranged to visit her next time we were in Tau and then sprinted all the way back to the boat, but I didn't care, because the Lord had blessed us with yet another miracle.

Reason number two: exact obedience. I have a testimony that the power and peace that come into our lives through obedience to the commandments of God (and by extension His servants) cannot be matched by anything else we do. I am so blessed to be surrounded by missionaries right now who also want to be obedient. And not only just not do anything bad, but truly strive to keep every rule and meet and exceed every expectation the Lord has for us. And of course we don't always succeed, but I believe the power is found in the trying.

Reason number three: The Sun! It is so incredible. I have never truly appreciated the sun and the warmth in my life until I came to Norway and lived through 2 Norwegian winters. It isn't as much the cold that bites, but the darkness. The sun being gone all the time is really really hard. And the contrast between that and the sun now is incredible. I love to walk out of the apartment and feel the sun on my face and know that the world is alive and happy around me. People are more willing to talk, friendlier to each other and just all-around more pleasant with the change in seasons.

To close I would like to quote from a General Conference talk by Mark E. Peterson a long time ago. He expresses the wonder and miracle of spring in a beautiful and inspiring way.

"The spring of the year is a most welcome season. It is then that all life seems to renew itself, when the promise of the future appears brightest and hope rises to its zenith. Indeed it is a time of reawakened courage and confidence.
Spring! A time of renewal, a revival in nature of the life that is all about us, but especially a reaffirmation of the divine promise of life everlasting! It was spring when the Savior made it all possible by his atoning sacrifice and his resurrection. It was in the spring when Jesus gathered his disciples about him and instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as a constant reminder of his crucifixion. It was in the spring when he prayed so humbly in the garden as he set the divine example by saying, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). . . We [speak] of spring, that time of resurgence of life and hope and joy. It was on a beautiful spring day in 1820 when the Almighty shattered the seal which had closed the heavens for centuries. He descended to the earth in the state of New York and called a modern prophet, a youth as pure and unspoiled and as promising as the spring day itself. This boy became a modern spokesman for God. Through him were all things restored as Peter said. And who was he? Joseph Smith, Jr., the seer and revelator of modern times. He labored humbly and completely under the direction of the Savior himself."

I too know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet of God on that glorious spring day in 1820. He restored all things to the earth, including the power which can seal our families together for eternity. And that is reason number four :) I love this gospel and there is nothing I would rather do than share it with God's children who do not yet have the blessings, comfort, and joy which the knowledge of the restoration brings. I will forever be grateful for my call as His servant in these latter days.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 6

I love it here in Stavanger, and I am really happy :) We got here and all of the investigators that were in our area had been taken to other areas by missionaries who were working here and are now working in different areas, so we literally had nothing. And I had a brand new missionary. So I knew we needed to have a good week and that the Lord would bless us if we worked hard. We set a goal to find someone to come to General Conference and went out and worked like we expected it to happen. I did expect it to happen. We found a lot of cool people this week, and I know it was a direct result of the Lord's hand in our work. General Conference weekend rolled around and I wasn't sure if we had anyone coming or not, but I prayed my hardest and left it up to the Lord. We showed up to the church to watch the priesthood session and walked into the kitchen to put away our lunch. When we walked back out, there were Dimitr and Jovan, two guys from Macedonia who we met this week and who said they would try to come. I was so happy and so grateful that the Lord blessed us. We ended up with a really great week and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us. I have a goal to have two baptisms here before I go, so we've just got to go and work. 

Stavanger is a really great place. It is a bigger city and, as is typical of the west coast of Norway, is incredibly beautiful. There are a few famous landmarks in the area, like Prekestolen and Kjerag, and there are a lot of things to do in the city, including see the Christus statue, one of just a few in the world. Who knows why it is Stavanger, Norway? Not me. There are a lot of American families here because of the oil industry (Stavanger is the center of the oil industry in Norway) and we have been speaking a lot of English lately, so it is weird. We weren't able to meet very many members this week because of General conference and Easter, but I am looking forward to being able to next week, and I can already tell that I am going to love it here.

My new companion is named Elder Broadbent, and he is from Orem, Utah. He is a really great guy and is loving his mission so far. We are having a lot of fun together :)

General conference was amazing, and I can't believe it is already over. I have never been very good at looking back over the talks in the ensuing months after the conference, but I am going to change that this time. I really loved President Eyring's talk during priesthood session about being able to speak and do as God would do through the prayer of faith. I also really enjoyed Elder Andersen's talk about hearing the music of the gospel and Elder Pearson's talk about enduring to the end. Conference is so amazing and most of my action items were centered around being a better district leader and helping the missionaries I am serving to be more focused on Christ. 

For the last part of my mission, I really want to focus on enduring to the end and sprinting to the finish line. I have a goal to get two more baptisms and I want to help the district to be on fire before I leave. The plan is no longer to be a traveling AP at the end of my mission. We talked and decided that being a district leader would be a lot better use of time and resources and ultimately a better way of training. I am really excited. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 30

It's been a really good week for me again, and time is moving quick, like always. This week is a transfer week, and I am going to be transferred. I am going to Stavanger, and it is going to be my last area. What? I can't believe that it has been 4 months since I came to the office and that I have less than 3 months left. Here is my address until then:

Elder Dallin Childs
Smedgate 7
4013 Stavanger

If you want to send anything, it will reach me there :) Thanks for all the support that you give me, it means the world.

On Thursday, winter decided to make up for the lack of cold and snow this year by dumping it all on us in one day. It snowed about half a meter in a few hours, and it was crazy. That would have been fine, but it happened to be on the same day that we went to Stavanger for a zone conference. When we left, everything was great, and when we tried to come back to Oslo, everything was a disaster. They closed the entire Oslo airport for snow removal, which delayed all the flights two hours. Then, as if that wasn't enough, the computer system crashed for Scandinavian Airlines, making it next to impossible to locate flight crews. So our plane was sitting on the ground in Oslo in perfectly fine flying condition, they just couldn't find anyone to fly it. Unfortunately, or perhaps wisely, they didn't accept my offer to fly it for them.

So we ended up sitting in the Stavanger airport for 6 hours with President and Sister Evans. It was a lot of fun to talk to them, but it was also really long. By the end of it all, we had re-booked our flight and got a hotel room, and we were staying an extra night in Stavanger. None of us had brought any bags or anything, so that was an adventure, but they served a great breakfast in the morning, and that made up for everything. We finally got back to Oslo safely, and when we did, I was ready for a long nap. But lets be honest, we don't get those - we are missionaries.

We ended the week by attending the baptism of a man named Drago, and it was a beautiful end to the week. He is from Croatia and was taught in part by the missionaries in Croatia via Skype, so the baptism was conducted in English, talks were given in Croatian, and Norwegian, and the baptism was performed in Russian. It was an amazing thing to see the Lord's hand bringing everything together to make that baptism possible. I have such a strong testimony of baptism. It is the Lord's way, and the Spirit testifies so strongly every time that it is His will. I love baptism!

I hope you all have a good week, and a wonderful Easter :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25

You are probably wondering why I didn't email Monday, and that is because we didn't have time to take a pday this week. On Monday we helped one of our investigator families named Magne and Caroline to clear out their front yard after they had renovated their house. I wish I had taken a picture of the mess, because it was literally a mountain. So that took a little longer than planned, but it was great to help out and to do some work with my hands. We loaded it all into a trailer and then took it to the dump, where we had to sort it into tons of different containers, since we are in Norway. I hope that he felt God's love because of our help. Then we had to take care of moves, because that is coming up and we wouldn't have any other time to do it. So we did that, flew to Trondheim yesterday for zone conference, and now we are going to finish up moves today and fly to Stavanger for zone conference tomorrow, so it's pretty crazy for us in the near future.

I am trying to think of what has happened before that this week....we had a leadership meeting with all of the District Leaders, Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders in the mission on Wednesday, and that went really well. We did some training and President Evans did some training, and then at the end we had a question and answer session for about an hour and a half, and that kept us on our toes! It was weird to me to be the one standing up front with the answers. It was an interesting experience, but the spirit was definitely strong, and that was good. We had zone conference in Oslo on Thursday, and Elder Gunther and I did a musical number together. We sang a medley of "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" and "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" which we made up and did it a capella. I thought it turned out really good, and it was great to do it with Elder Gunther.

Other than that, I was on splits on Tuesday, and it was good to have a full day of work, and life is good. Things are going alright with our investigators. We are going to go help Henrik install a door this evening and teach him afterward, and really try to establish a good teaching relationship and see how that goes. We will also meet with someone named Christian who we found recently, so hopefully we will be able to help him want to be baptized. Jon Axel and Arve are still basically just the same, I just pray that they will feel the truth of the gospel sometime. We will just keep on working!

This week has been crazy. As part of traveling around and conducting zone conferences I have had a lot of time to spend memorizing and thinking about scriptures. I have a goal to know the scriptures better and my scripture study has really increased in effectiveness because of it. One scripture I found this week which really hit me is found in Paul's letter to the Galatians, and says in chapter 2:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

This scripture hit me with great power because I, too, have been saved by Christ. Saved from myself and saved from the person I might have become, had it not been for his grace and mercy in my life. Now I live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I am living, I owe therefore to Him. To dedicate all that I am to His service. And that is what I have tried to do. I haven't been anywhere near perfect, but I have made steps in my life to live more by the faith of the Son of God, and that has made all the difference for me. I love Him with all of my heart, and I know He loves me, too. As Elder Packer recently taught us, this really is the truth most worth knowing. That He loves us and through His love we can be clean, time and time again. What a powerful gift which we have been given and can in turn give to other people. Share the gift with others so that they too, can feel of His love!

Homemade Sushi With Elder Gunther and some investigators.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16

Well, this week was definitely one of the high points of my mission, and the reason was that Paulina finally got baptized! Here is a quick recap for those of you who don't remember: I found Paulina in Narvik a year ago while I was serving there, and we became quick friends. We met a lot in Narvik and taught her all about the gospel and the Book of Mormon and she loved it. She soaked in everything that we told her, and she quickly gained a testimony. She wasn't able to be baptized back then due to some family situations, and I left Narvik feeling like I had a job unfinished, but I kept doing my work trying to find prepared people. In the mean, time she moved to Bodø at the new school year, and I told the missionaries to contact her and try to teach her again, and I have been following up the process ever since. She is amazing, and now this week I was able to travel up to Bodø and baptize her up there in the fjord. What an amazing blessing that the Lord gave me. I am so grateful.

That was obviously the highlight of the week, and it's a good thing, because we didn't get a whole lot else done in our area. We were on splits with Hamar and Narvik this week, so between the baptism, traveling, and being a little sick, things have been pretty crazy. But I like crazy :)

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I got asked kind of last minute this week to give a talk about it, and I was really grateful. As a missionary we are always thinking and talking about the Book of Mormon, but giving this talk really helped me remember the power it truly has to shape our lives. Why do we let ourselves get so focused on other things that we don't even read in the Book of Mormon each day? I never go a day without eating, so why should I ever go a day without feeding my spirit as well? Food for thought. I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who gives us guidance through His prophets both in ancient and in modern days, and I cannot wait until General Conference! Bring on the revelation! Life is good, we should always remember that. Have a wonderful week!

Some really amazing boller that we got on splits.

I got to see Kikka again!


Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9

For the first time in months, today it feels like spring is in the air. I traveled back to Trondheim this week, and in the process hit 100 flights on my mission. So much traveling. It was amazing to go back and see the people who I have missed since I left and to go to work in the town I love so much.

Henrik isn't back yet from his travels, but we were able to do some work in our area, visited Arve and Jon Axel (who both read in the Book of Mormon and I just pray that they will get their answers) and visited some other people in the ward. I wrote a job description for a travel coordinator so that we can get out of the office and do some work, and we worked on the coming transfer. I translated church this week, and that is always a challenge.

Also, you would be proud of me, because this week I borrowed a sewing machine and fixed a couple of pairs of pants that completely ripped out the entire crotch. I even threaded the top and the bottom all by myself and sewed in straight lines. They look good! Like mamma, like son, huh? Haha so that was good :)

This week Elder Halverson and I have been studying a lot about pride, and I have really started to understand how truly degrading it is to our character and to our spiritual life. Pride is at the base of all sins, and I was stunned to really open my eyes and understand all the ways in which pride is made manifest in our daily lives. Pride is shown in the motives for the things we do, and, unless we consciously manage it, threatens to take over the very core of who we are and the choices which define us. I have never prayed harder to get rid of something in my life than I have this week with my pride. One of my favorite scriptures lately is in D&C 112 and says, "Be thou humble and the Lord they God and give thee answer to thy prayers." May we all strive to embody the characteristic of humility in our lives, and, in so doing, clothe ourselves with the protection of God.

Paulina's baptism is this Saturday, so I am preparing myself for the cold water of the fjord. There will be no better feeling than the contrast of the freezing cold water of the Norwegian fjords and the warmth of the Holy Ghost, flooding through our hearts in confirmation as Paulina goes under the water and comes back up a new person, reborn in the spirit. So I am pretty content. It is good to be alive!

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2

Happy March! February has always been a short month, but this time it went by unusually quick, probably due to the amount of traveling and craziness that has been in my life. Speaking of traveling, we went up to Alta earlier this week, and it was a lot of fun. Alta is the area with the northernmost missionaries in the world, so we were on top of the world - literally. We went out and worked hard and experienced many mighty miracles. We taught tons of lessons and found a lot of new investigators, but the people who stand out in my mind are named Stian and Amanda. I was working with a brand new missionary, Elder Daly, who got to the country a little over a week ago. The whole time we were together I was praying that we would have good experiences so that he could have a good start to his mission and learn something good. We showed up to our first appointment but it didn't go through, so we didn't have anything to do in the middle of the day in Alta, Norway. Not a very good prospect. The city center wasn't big enough for 4 elders to be contacting there, so we said a prayer and started walking up the streets, trying to find a house where it looked like someone was home. We walked for a while without much success, and then, as we were approaching the center, we saw a couple walking in the distance, and I knew they were our investigators. So I told Elder Daly to contact them and pumped him up for it as we approached them and then we went for it. She was 5 days overdue on her first baby, and they had a thought a lot lately about the meaning of life and what God means for them. It was perfect timing. We asked them if we could come to their apartment with them and bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the wonderful ways it can bless them in their lives. They said we could come back and meet the new baby and teach them more next week, so I am excited to hear how it goes. The Lord was definitely watching out for us. It was a huge miracle and I was so grateful.

We came back to Sandvika and didn't have a whole lot of time left, but we still had a great week somehow. We have a lot of appointments coming up next week, and we found some new people to begin working with. Henrik is traveling for the next couple of weeks, so I don't think we will be having very much progress with him, but we met with Jon Axel and Arve and they are both doing well. We committed them both to read every day in the Book of Mormon. I just pray that it will help them gain a testimony of the restored truth.

This week Paulina, my investigator from Narvik, asked me to baptize her as well. I was so excited and honored when she asked me to do it. She will be the first person baptized in Bodø in over 3 years, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. The Lord is truly good to me. 

I don't have anything to complain about. The Lord has blessed me so richly in my life, and I have so much to be grateful for. If you haven't been to Norway, you should come here. It is amazing. I love the people, I love the culture, I love the nature, and I love the church. Life is so good. I know the church is true and nothing can ever make me deny that. Keep the faith, everyone! Have a wonderful week!

My life right now. I feel like I am in the van more often than not most of the time...sometimes I wonder how that thing even fits in parking garages.

Dropping off our buddy, Elder Allen.

Monday, February 23, 2015