Monday, May 31, 2010

It's 60 F today!‏

Dear all,

So this last week we didn't have a big number of teaches but the one's that did happen were with very positive people and the the spirit was definitely present!

We got to teach Thor Åge and Evi (Thor is a less-active member who really wants to come back and Evi is his non-member girlfriend/wife) for the second time last week. It was great cuz during the teach when we were talking about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon everyday he talked about how much stronger you feel the spirit when you do read. Then he turned to her and said, "I'm not very good at reading everyday so I need you to help me. Can you help me?" It was the best! Then she talked about how she noticed how good she'd feel during the day's that she read versus days she didn't.

After we finished teaching Thor asked if either of us knew anything about computers cuz he couldn't get his laptop to connect with their wireless internet. I couldn't help but smile as I said, "Yeah, can try and fix it." It's one thing to fix a basic problem with the wireless (That I can stumble my way through) it's something entirely different to fix in Norwegian :) Luckily I could work my way through the "unknown" words and ended up fixing it for him. After it was all fixed he was so excited and just said (in English) "Ah man, I love you guys!) haha it was way funny.

As we were walking along the docks of Grimstad (about 30 min from central city of Arendal) the other day we met a Navajo Indian guy who is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Originally, we were supposed to be meeting someone else but they decided not to show up. It turned out he didn't speak or understand Norwegian but has been living in Norway for about 13 years. He has a wife and five kids here. We talked to him a little bit about how we have a prophet on the Earth today and he responded with, "Well I haven't heard of this prophet before but I think that's great!" We taught him the first lesson a day later and he told us about how his Indian Chief guys have passed down tales of how one day there will be one church for the world that is Jesus Christ's church. He's a way religious guy but very chill about finding the true church. Just kinda goes with the flow of things. So pretty much I think he's a Lamanite and he's going to get baptized :)

I realized a big part of why I don't feel like I'm doing so well in the language last week. I have often been avoiding talking with certain Norwegian's because I just plain couldn't understand the dialect they would answer me in. I decided to make an extra effort on talking to pretty much anyone and everyone Norwegian haha. I think it's helping, if anything it's helping me pick out the words that I don't know the meaning of (which is quite a few). But, it's all good :)

Today we went out to this campground (Hove) area and walked through the woods. We took a bunch of different trails and ended up coming out to the ocean (As you can see from the picture). I think if you want to get a good glimpse of eternity stand on a shoreline and look out to the ocean. I felt very small haha. But it was wonderful to think that as small as I am, Heavenly Father knows me. I don't know how anyone could look at everything around us and deny the existence of a higher power. Something about being out and away from the city reminded me of how much there is to this world. I'll just say that going there was time well spent :)

Sometimes I wonder, if people who aren't members of the church came along and saw what a day in the life of a missionary was like then they would believe. Cuz really no other church in the world has mission's like ours. I know some have a supposed "life long" mission but I'm pretty sure they just live in an area and are paid to run the church. I am so grateful for this opportunity I have been given.

Never have I had my very testimony attacked and rebuked so many times by strangers who don't even know me. But never has my testimony been stronger than it is now. One of my favorite things to do with people is after they have told me, "You can't tell me that you know it's true because nobody can know. You can only believe and hope." Then I proceed to look them right in the eyes and say, "Well I know it is true, and you can to." I never thought I'd be able to do that but I have and it feels so good :)

I know it's true and we're are so lucky to have that truth! I don't think I've had a single day where I didn't have at least one "beaten down" moment when it felt like the entire world was on my shoulders; but there's no giving up until the Savior comes again. Guess I better do my part right? :)

Thanks for all your prayers and support, they truly do help!



Sunday, May 30, 2010

End of week 5

We had Mission Conference last Wednesday and Thursday. I think it could be included in my list of one of the best thing's of my mission thus far. Oh and it was great cuz I got to see people from Oslo like Elder and Sister Thomas (the Young Adult Outreach Center couple). Almost every talk was an answer to one prayer or another. It was great cuz it gave me the chance to take a step back and evaluate how I have been doing things. I felt like I learned a lot about myself, missionary work, and Christ. I came out of the conference with a new outlook on everything and I am much, much happier now :)

I don't know why but I had a set image of how missionary work/life is supposed to be and I just tried to live it in that manner. Basically I had just forgotten that I am still me, I'm still the same person but with a calling. I felt like I had to be perfect all the time and "I shouldn't make mistakes because missionaries don't make mistakes" haha boy was I wrong. It's interesting to think about though because almost my entire focus was on me. It was about how "I" felt and how "I" was doing. I was reminded of the scripture in Matthew where it says "He who shall save his life shall lose it and he who shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." To any normal person that does not make any bit of sense whatsoever. But it really is true! I was focusing on how my language sounded when I taught or how good I was at using the scripture instead of thinking of how the person felt who was hearing our message. Now I've found the number one solution, developing Christlike attributes :) Easy task right? haha

Our teaches were a little on the low side this week because we were out of our area for two full days but we did teach Karl Reinhard again. We got to his house and he was making dinner for us, that was quite the surprise. He had told us before he doesn't really cook, at all haha. We ate really buttery hashbrowns, eggs and very burnt bacon yum :) All topped with some fried onions haha. I just had to laugh when he handed me my plate and it had hardened food chunks on it from a past meal :) We taught him afterward and he still doesn't really accept the Book of Mormon so we're workin on that.

I had a really cool experience Thursday night after the conference was over. They dropped us off at the airport about an 45 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave. So we go in through security and I head up to the desk to get our tickets the office had ordered for us. I handed the service lady my driver's license and she proceeded to look for my ticket. She got this puzzled look on her face and double checked my license. She said there was no ticket ordered under that name so I asked her to check under Grover (my comp). Once again, no ticket. Someone had forgotten to get us ticket's. By now it would be super expensive and it almost wouldn't be worth it. We went over to another service desk to see how much it would be to buy two tickets for that flight. Definitely way out of our price range, but they had another flight leaving at 10pm that would be much cheaper. We decided to go for that one instead.

After purchasing, the service guy told us to take it to the check in counter place and try to get on that plane anyway. I was just like, "what is this?" :) So I did what he suggested (this time I decided to speak in English in hope's that she would have compassion on a lost foreigner who doesn't have a flight haha) and gave her my ticket to see if we could get on this flight. She looked at the ticket and mumbled in Norwegian that the type of ticket we had was way difficult to change but she continued to try anyway. As she was workin on it I was just praying that we could get on the plane. Suddenly she printed out two little receipts and told us to come around to the front of the line. Not only were we able to pay less than half the price but we got on that plane and had a very nice flight home.

I've started to notice the "small miracles" that happen around me and it makes me so much more grateful for all that really goes on. It may have been something small but not making the earlier flight would have meant that we would have been out a lot later, past the 1030pm curfew. We may not see the ocean being parted in front of us but our Heavenly Father truly is always watching out for us even If we don't notice.

In mission conference Elder Berg, one of the missionary couples, told a story about going through hard times and then he said, "No matter how much we go through, it's the little bits of "joy" that make it all worth it." I find that true all too often. Sometimes I feel like it's way too tough and it would almost be easier to just give up but after getting to the point where I can look back at it all, I wouldn't have it any other way.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arendal is just great!

So this past week has been interesting but in the end it was quite rewarding. On Sunday we taught in priesthood meeting. The first time doing that in a different language haha.. I was way nervous about it at first but I was actually excited about doing it when it came down to it. I was definitely blessed with language ability and understanding cuz a lot of the time I felt like I had no idea what some people's comments were but luckily I got the general gist of what they were saying, most of the time haha.

I really enjoyed Sunday here. It was a lot quieter than a larger ward but it was nice and peaceful. We had had a lot of appointments cancelled so the weekend was pretty much a bummer. It just felt so good to be able to partake of the sacrament and be renewed for another week.

Something else cool about Sunday. This less active guy just recently moved here from Stavanger with his girlfriend. Apparently she told the branch president that she wants to be baptized so they can be married in the temple. So all in all we couldn't teach very many people during the weekend but we have a very positive potenstial who wants to be baptized :) Blessings come in many various ways I guess haha.

I found out a little bit more about Dagfinn and his background, which is way interesting. He drives the local ferrie from different islands around here but when he was younger he was the captain of huge ships. He said one of the ships he was captain of took 7 miles to come to a full stop. He's way funny, the first time I meet him he started talking to me in English and he has a britain accent cuz that's the kind of English he learned haha.

I've only been here for a week and a half but I already love all the people here :) We had dinner with the branch president and his family yesterday. They like 11 kids and it felt just like home when we were there. They are the most Utahn-mormon family in Norway haha it's great. All the kids were runnin around after we ate dinner and it was just like Sunday's at grandma's :) There family makes up pretty much the entire branch. They do almost everything that needs to be done.

We've been talking with an investigator who travels around the world a lot and he basically takes his motorcycle everwhere. He's biked across most places in Europe and speaks way good English. He always talks to us in English so he can get more practice, I've been trying to talk with him in Norwegian to get more practice. I may just start speakin in Norwegian to him and he can just speak English to me haha. It's strange how the brain works. Somedays I feel like I can understand almost everything then the next day it's almost like these people are speakin to me in Arabic haha.. One day perhaps I'll dream in Norwegian and things will be a bit easier :)

So Saturday we played soccer again with people who are from Iraq. They get way crazy and start shouting at each other in Arabic whenever someone fouls another. We talked to this guy, Alli, afterwords and he said that if we'll teach him better English then he'll teach us Arabic. I told him "Deal, when can we start." haha.. Maybe we can introduce him to the gospel after a few language courses :)

We had a way cool experience in the morning on Saturday. We had already had two people cancel on us so we were feeling pretty down. We had about 45min before our next supposed appointment. I suggested that we pray to the Lord for help to find one positive potential in that amount of time. We prayed to know who the person was and where they were. I had a distinct impression to go over by the Library and there would be a woman with a few specific things about. We walked over there and I saw a woman sitting on a bench who matched the description. I was a little skeptical at first but we started talking to her and she was really interested in hearing more about The Book of Mormon. I must say I was a little surprised that it all actually worked out. I was so grateful to be used as an instrument to find those who are seeking the truth!

What a great gift we have all been given. Truth can be so hard to find in these days and it is of such great worth! I am so grateful for the gospel we have. It brings so much happiness in my life and I have seen that happiness be brought into the lives of others'. The work is still moving forward and it's so exciting :)