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!