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 :)