Saturday, December 28, 2013

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

It has been an interesting week. Being in a tripanionship is a lot more fun than I would have thought. Elder Kirk and Elder Badger are both really wonderful people. I am very grateful for this Christmas time and for the opportunity it provides us to reflect on the wonderful gift Christ is for us and the incomprehensible opportunities he has given us. It is a wonderful time of year to remind ourselves of those things that are most important and to focus on them whole-heartedly. I wish you all a God Jul! The Norwegian word of the week is kristi føtsel, which means the birth of Christ.

Elder Ankenman

We were able to talk to Elder Ankenman on Christmas. He is happy and is doing very well and loves his mission in Norway. He continues to feel the reassurance that he is where he is supposed to be. Elder Ankenman’s Norwegian sounds wonderful. He is also continuing to have opportunities to sing and play the guitar and will be performing in a church talent show soon with some other missionaries. He asks us to remember Christ year round and especially this Holiday season. In his words “Jesus is the reason for the season and everything else”. He also told us to not be afraid to share the gospel with others. Elder Ankenman thanks you all for your love and your support, which he feels all the way in Norway.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monday, December 16th, 2013

We have had a good week with a few very surprising changes. We are not having moves until January 3rd, but Elder Wineager, one of the assistants to the Mission President, is going home on the 20th, and Elder Linge has been called to take his place, which means that I will be moving in with the other Oslo elders tomorrow and we will be in a tripanionship. It is very strange that my two companions in Norway are now the two assistants. I am quite certain that I will be leaving Oslo on the 3rd of January for a number of reasons, so that is both sad and exciting. We have been able to start teaching quite a lot more, and I think that will continue to be true when we combine the two areas. I am quite sad that Elder Linge and I will not be serving together anymore, but I know he will be a great assistant.

I am looking very much forward to having my first white Christmas and in Norway of all places. The weather has really been quite wonderful and the darkness is not so bad at all here in Southern Norway. One thing that has been brought up a lot is the gifts that we can give the Savior and Heavenly Father this Christmas for what they have done for us. The scriptures describe many times that they ask for a broken heart and a contrite spirit, so that we can accept the gift of the atonement that they wish to give us, and ultimately so that we can be made whole. I hope that we can all remember the reason for the season and dedicate much contemplation and effort to celebrating the gift of our Savior. I am sorry this email is late, but we took p-day today because we went and toured the Freye chocolate factory today, which was really awesome. The Norwegian word of the week is God Jul, which means good (merry) Christmas.

Elder Ankenman

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Monday, December 9th, 2013

We have snow now and a lot of it. It was quite crazy. I just woke up yesterday and we had snow, so I am glad that I am going to have a white Christmas just like the ones I have never known. I fear for Elder Linge's sake though as he will have to bear with me as I learn to walk in the snow. One thing that is really cool though is that the streets are heated, so there is no snow on the sidewalks. It is always amazing to me how profound it can be to be reminded of fundamental truths of the gospel and to see them in a new light. It is truly incredible how much of what we are taught in the church is repetition and yet how much we grow and how much there is to understand.

I feel that this year I am more grateful than I have ever been approaching the Christmas season for the great gift Christ is and was for the world. One thing I have noticed more this year than ever before is that you can literally feel a change in the air when Christmas time comes. As I ponder the gift Christ is, I am reminded of the simple truths of the gospel that are indeed the most important. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us beyond human comprehension and because of that they want us to learn and grow and become like them so that we can experience a fullness of joy. The reality is that we cannot do this alone. We need a Savior, a Redeemer, someone to take upon Himself that which we are incapable of overcoming. This is what Christ did. Through the atonement, we can continually improve and overcome our weaknesses and challenges. Christ came because He loves us and He loves His father. We show Him our love for Him by using the gifts He has given us, including keeping His commandments. I am so thankful for my testimony of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the knowledge I have of Him, for the knowledge I have that we are all children of a loving Father in Heaven, and for the knowledge I have that the gospel has been restored and Christ's church reestablished in these the latter-days.

There was a concert in the church building in Romerike yesterday that we went to. It was really awesome, and there were a lot of incredibly nice people. Christmas music is a really special thing. They also played a song by Eric Whitacre that Chamber Singers did called Lux Aurumque, but they did an instrumental version. The assistants brought a guitar home for me to have until Christmas, so that is a great blessing. I do not get to play it too much though because we have things we need to be doing. It is nice to feel though that I have not lost as much as I would have feared. We are not having moves until early January, so I know I will be in Oslo for Christmas. I hope you are excited for Christmas and are able to take some time to ponder and study the remarkable gift Christ is for us all. I am thankful for all of your testimonies and for your love and support. The Norwegian word of the week is å take, which means to thank.

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Nelson Mandela this past week. I would like to include a quote from Nelson Mandela, which I feel applies perfectly to my Norwegian-speaking mission. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

Elder Ankenman

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

It has been another good week. We have now had baptisms two weeks in a row in Oslo. They were not investigators who I was teaching at the time, but that really is unimportant. What matters is that people are coming unto Christ. As we had Thanksgiving this week, I think I have been reminded more and more of my countless blessings. I have felt Heavenly Father watching over and guiding me as he continues to help us to do this work. It is truly such a blessing for me to be able to serve a mission. What an opportunity I have to serve my Heavenly Father who has provided me with everything and never ceases to show me His love; what a blessing it is to be able to help others take advantage of the gift of the atonement that our Savior has given us; and what a gift it is to be able to focus one's life on representing Christ and Heavenly Father in this wonderful work and to be able to show others their love. I am so very blessed to receive such support from you all. I do not have to worry about anything besides the work in which I am engaged, which is a great blessing.

As missionaries, we do walk a fair amount, especially when contacting, but in Oslo there are four main forms of public transportation: trikk (tram), T-Bane (Subway), Bus, and Tog (train), which is for longer distances. We buy a monthly card pass that gets us unlimited distance on all of them, which is really cool. We ride the T-Bane in and out of the city every day to work since we do not live in Oslo: we actually live in a whole other zone than the one we work in. Technically it has snowed, but the snow has not stayed. There are already Christmas trees set up. Norway also has a lot of special Christmas food, which I have tried a little. There are some meats that are only available at Christmas, and they are really good.

There are certainly challenging aspects of missionary service, but I feel that they really do not matter in the big picture when one truly reflects on the blessings that those challenges really do provide us. It is such a comfort to me to know that Heavenly Father is there and that he is actively engaged in and interested in each of our lives. I hope to become more and more grateful for Heavenly Father’s love and all that He has done for us all. I am so thankful to all of you for your love, for your examples, for your faith and for simply being yourselves. May you all remember Heavenly Father’s love and the blessings he gives us so freely. The Norwegian word of the week is takknemelig, which means grateful.

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Monday, November 25th, 2013

We had a district Thanksgiving dinner today. We even made some lactose free mashed potatoes. It was really good, and I am very full. It has been a good week. We have been out a lot this week trying to find people to teach and have a lot of good things to look forward to this week as a result. I have been reading Our Heritage, which is part of the missionary library. It is a brief history of the church and has a lot of really cool stories. I am so moved by the heritage of this church. When all is said and done, I know that there is no way that the saints would have been able to do what they did if they were not involved in a true cause and received strength from Heavenly Father. That truth is to me undeniable. I am so very thankful for the sacrifices and efforts of those who have come before me and for all that you all do for me as well. I am truly blessed as a result.

One thing that is truly amazing is how dramatically the church has been able to grow and how many have received the restored gospel in such a short period of time. This is what we would all like to see happen in Norway, but it requires our willingness and diligence to be effective instruments in Heavenly Father’s plan. It is so essential that the cause of Zion continue to move forward. I am so thankful for what it has done for me and for the strength and knowledge Heavenly Father has given me and will continue o give me to aid in this cause. I am so thankful for the gospel. I am so thankful for the many blessings I have been given including all of your love and support. May we all remember our blessings and continue to receive strength under the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. The Norwegian word of the week is en velsignelseá, which means blessing.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, November 18th, 2013

We had a goal as a district this week to spend time every day from 6-9 being with the members, which we were able to do almost every day. It was really wonderful to spend time with them. Elder Linge and I do quite a lot of tracking, which is good, but member missionary work is the better way, and I feel like that is where our focus should be. All of us need to reach out in love to our brothers and sisters to help them come back and feel of Heavenly Father’s love for them and enjoy the blessings that he desires to give them. It is very easy to say that but difficult to know exactly how to apply those principles into bringing about significant change. The three people we met from teaching Norwegian last week are all progressing quite well. They are from Morocco, Holland, and Italy, so there is quite a mix. Two of them speak English, and they all speak French. We have a return missionary from France and a French woman in the ward who have both done wonderful jobs of fellowshipping them and helping them feel welcome by being with them at church and coming on teaches. Having member involvement with investigators from the beginning of the teaching process makes all the difference in the world. One of them has had a tremendous amount of miracles this past week, including her spouse who is in a different country having come in contact with missionaries there at the same time. The French member said that two of them would definitely get baptized soon, so we are very excited.

My Norwegian is as good as ever. Elder Linge is almost definitely the best missionary in the mission at Norwegian, so it is a great blessing to be able to serve with and learn from him. One thing I think is a big obstacle for missionaries and something that I am trying to over come is the amount of English spoke, which makes it very difficult to really learn Norwegian. We often fall to English with each other and meet a lot of English speaking people, not to mention Norwegians speak much better English than most of us do Norwegian. None of these are good reasons though. One thing that really strikes me is thinking about my call letter, which called me to preach the gospel in the Norwegian language. That is my call, and so I can and must do it. It is a really cool language, and I can communicate a lot with people. I have definitely been very blessed, but I have a lot to learn. There are a lot of really wonderful nature sights in Norway. The landscape is very diverse throughout Norway, unlike Sweden, which is flat. It is an incredibly beautiful country. The past couple of days have been very clear and absolutely gorgeous.

One thing I am trying to work on is relying on Heavenly Father to provide me with the strength I need in all things, and to trust that he will give me what is necessary and what is best. I have felt his influence very much thus far on my mission, but I simultaneously know how much more can be done here. I think it is very important to remember that we are nothing of ourselves but can through the power of our God do all things that are expedient in Him. It still has not snowed, which is very surprising, but I think that will change soon. The Swedish twins are getting baptized soon, which is very exciting. There is also going to be a baptism of a teenage boy this Saturday on his birthday. The Norwegian words of the weeks are å stole på, which means to trust/rely on and vennlig, which means friendly.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, November 11th, 2013

We have had a good week. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world when after doing all you can to accomplish something to no avail and all of a sudden heavenly help comes in and makes weak things become strong to the point that the weakness no longer matters. For weeks we have been working very hard and been out on the streets a lot to find new investigators but have had very little success. Then all of a sudden on Friday the Elder of the senior couple at the institute center gave us the names of a couple people who had come by for a language course that we are no longer offering. We called them the next day and set up an appointment for some Norwegian and some gospel discussion. They came and brought a friend with them who did not speak English but was trying to learn Norwegian as well. All three of them were very positive about the gospel aspect and expressed that they would like to come to church. Two of them came yesterday to church and spoke with a member for an hour after church. It is so incredible how quickly things can turn around. It is also so humbling to know how out of our control it is in so many ways.

We must rely on Heavenly Father and on His spirit to be our guide. That same day we were asked to come to an inactive member’s house with another member to teach two of their inactive member's friends about the gospel. The lesson was in Spanish, but the inactive member translated to and from Norwegian so everyone would be involved. It was incredible. It was an absolute ideal situation and undoubtedly a miracle. As a result of these two miracles, we have gained a tremendous amount of momentum, and are looking forward very much to the future. I will be remaining in Oslo with Elder Linge at least until December 20th. I am really excited to continue to be serving in Oslo.

Time has really gone by very quickly so far. I know that there is a lot of my mission left, but I am nothing but excited about it. Heavenly Father has really strengthened me a lot more in that regard than I had anticipated. We are going to have family home evening with Goncalo and his mother tonight and plan to talk about family history and temple work with them. The Norwegian word of the weeks is klar, which means clear/ready.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, November 4th, 2013

This has been an interesting week. It has been a clear testament to me that this is Heavenly Father’s work, so it can only be done in His way. There is absolutely no substitute for the spirit. If we do not have the spirit, we cannot do anything. Every aspect of the work, and ultimately every aspect of our lives, should be spiritual. Because of this, I am learning how true it is that we must work in faith and not merely out of work ethic. Elder Linge and I have been working very hard to find people to teach, and the difference is clear that we have success when we have the spirit and we do not when we are without the spirit. It is so essential. The reality is that we are not the ones doing the work; we are instruments in the hands of our Heavenly Father to help His children return to Him and be perfected in Christ. The more I understand this truth, I realize more and more what He has done for me and how truly dependent upon Him I am. It is an incredible comfort to me to know that Heavenly Father and Christ live and are anxiously engaged in even the smallest aspects of our lives. One thing that we are trying to focus on a lot is having members involved with our investigators as soon as possible because as President Hinckley said it truly and simply is the better way.

There are some Norwegian cookies and soda associated with Christmas that are out. They are really good. It still has not snowed here yet, but it has been raining a bit the past couple of days, and it is definitely getting colder and darker. I am simultaneously excited and scared for the colder weather to come. It will be quite an experience, especially if I went up further north for the winter. The most important thing is that I know that I will be where I am meant to be. The Norwegian word of the week is åpenbaring, which means revelation.

Elder Ankenman

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Monday, October 28th, 2013

This week has been another very interesting week. Goncalo was baptized and confirmed this weekend by a member in the ward with whom I have developed a really good relationship. He is from Portugal and was converted himself twelve years ago. Goncalo was baptized and confirmed in Portuguese. It was really cool because I felt like I understood quite a lot. It is really cool to see people come together regardless of differences, which in reality have no relevance. It was wonderful that Portuguese, Spanish, Norwegian and English speaking people were all involved in the baptismal service. The Spanish and Portuguese people involved in the baptism are from Portugal, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile.

It was a tremendous joy for me to be able to be involved in the experience. I know that it was a wonderful time for Goncalo and his mother, who was baptized this past April. It really is difficult to describe the joy I felt, but it is just so incredible to know that you have been an instrument in Heavenly Father's hands and that you have really helped someone draw closer to Him. I know that I am in Oslo now in part because I am as far as I know the only missionary in the mission who could have communicated with Goncalo. That is undeniable evidence of the revelation President Evans (The Norway Mission President) receives on where we should be and of the undeniable presence of Heavenly Father in our lives. It has not snowed yet, but it has been getting noticeably darker every day.

I believe I have said this before, but there has to be a change in the frequency with which missionaries believe the people here will accept our message. I was supposed to hope for one baptism my whole mission if I am lucky, but I have a feeling that we will be blessed with far more. We must have the faith and act. Our faith should never be based upon the number of baptisms we receive nor can it be measured by that. However, we need to act and be willing to do what Heavenly Father wants us to do. I would urge all of you to remember what Heavenly Father has done for us and as you do act so that he can be even more abundantly present in your lives and the lives of those around you. I promise that I will do the same. We must all strive to develop that universal love for everyone. We are all loved, and that is the message we must share. The Norwegian word of the week is en grunn, which means a reason.

Elder Ankenman

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Monday, October 21st, 2013

My daily schedule is not too exciting. We have studies in the morning and then lunch. We are out the door at one o'clock most days. From there we try to meet with investigators and members. When we do not have appointments with people we do what we can to arrange them and to find more people. We are out on the streets quite a lot trying to find people who will receive the gospel. We have an hour for dinner and then it is more of the same. Most of our appointments are in the evening. We are supposed to be back in our apartment by 9:00. We plan for the next day for a half hour and then have an hour before bed at 10:30. I do not think the schedule will change with the weather although the colder weather will be an added motivation to get appointments so we will not be able to be on the streets so much. We had stake conference this week and the stake presidency was reorganized. The area president presided at the meeting, and I got to meet him. He is from Portugal and is himself a convert.

I have really felt the influences on both sides trying to influence the work. There was one day in particular where I felt this contrast. We had had a rather hectic start to the day and went out contacting for a while after having a very small lunch. No one we talked to seemed to have any interest, and we just felt the adversary working on us. After that we had an appointment with a man who did not show up. The day had felt like a failure. After that we went to a members house and had dinner with him. He said that he had had a pretty rough day as well, but he was grateful to have us there with him and could feel himself being uplifted. After dinner he asked me to give him a blessing, which was a wonderful experience. We then went with him to institute and afterwards to visit a member who was very ill to give her a blessing. We also had a wonderful visit with her. At the end of the day, Elder Linge and I talked about the experience. We had had such highs and lows, but the truth was that the lows truly did not matter at the end of the day. No matter our difficulties I feel that we must always bear in mind that there is always a light, though it may be seem small, amidst the darkness of our lives. That light will always over take the darkness in the end.

Everything is on track for Goncalo to be baptized on Saturday, which is really exciting. We went over the baptismal questions with him yesterday, and it was really humbling for me to hear him express his testimony and knowledge of the truths of the gospel. I truly do feel like teaching Goncalo is one of the reasons I am in Oslo now because I do not think anyone else in the mission could have communicated with him nearly as much. I am so thankful for the tender mercies such as this that remind us that Heavenly Father is always watching over us. I am going to start studying Preach My Gospel in Spanish instead of English I think so that I can learn to communicate the gospel better in Spanish. Don't worry I will still work just as hard on Norwegian. The Norwegian word of the week is bekreftelsen, which means confirmation.

Elder Ankenman

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Monday, October 14th, 2013

We have been very blessed this past week. It is funny that on the one hand I feel that there is always so much room for me to improve and so many things I could be doing better while on the other hand I feel so blessed for the strengths and blessings I have received in order to accomplish what I have. The ten-year-old boy from Portugal will not be baptized this week, but we have a goal for him for the 26th of October. We were finally able to have a lesson with the Swedish twins yesterday, and it was really cool. They expressed that they would like to get baptized as soon as they could. They essentially grew up in the church, but their father would not allow them to get baptized. Now that they are living on their own in Norway nothing can stop them. We are not sure what the date will be yet because they have to talk to their Mom and they need to check their work schedules, but it should be no later than the beginning of November. It is incredible to think that there are three baptisms that will happen in Oslo. We also have some other investigators whom I feel very strongly about.

I do not attend the Spanish gospel principles class right now because we do not have investigators there anymore. I still do have quite a few opportunities to speak Spanish with the members though. I have even been able to participate in priesthood blessings in Spanish, which has been really cool.

It is key for us to have strong testimonies of the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. If we know that the restoration happened then any other concerns or questions we have are resolved. The only question any investigator needs to ask her-himself is if Joseph Smith was a prophet. Anyone who actually wants to know, and seeks sincerely will come to know that he was indeed a prophet.

It is a comfort and blessing to me to know how universal the message of the gospel is. When we have knowledge of the restoration, those other differences that might divide us really become so insignificant. Political views, nationality, culture, language and so forth really do not make a difference. I think that it is so essential for people to get over the boundaries that we create to separate ourselves from one another. We are all children of Heavenly Father, so we all have divine potentials and he loves us all perfectly. One thing that I have been contemplating recently is unity. It is so essential that we be united. Members of the church in particular should not let our differences separate us. Rather they should bring us together in the cause of helping others to come to the light of the gospel. We must always demonstrate love for our brothers and sisters regardless of what happens. We are indeed nothing without charity, for without charity our actions are hollow. I hope we may all be filled with that pure love.

Elder Linge and I live with Elder Bitner and Elder Wineager who are the AP¨s (assistants to the president), so there are four of us sharing the apartment. It is fine in terms of space. The only issue is that we are not there very often since it is not in Oslo (where Elder Linge and I are assigned to work) and the assistants hardly spend any time at home to begin with.

I feel like there is so much potential for Oslo and all of Norway. It is truly wonderful to be able to serve here. I know that Heavenly Father is mindful of us all. There is no question that His hand is manifest in all of our lives. The key is to learn to get rid of the pavilions that appear to separate us from Him. When I think about how blessed I am to be able to help others come unto Christ and return to Heavenly Father, I cannot help but smile and be grateful. The Norwegian word of the week is forsoningen, which means the atonement.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, October 7th, 2013

It has been a good week. I have a new companion Elder Linge who is from Utah, but was born in Norway. He is a really nice guy. General Conference was really great. We had an investigator named Dan come to two sessions. I do not think I have ever wanted someone to feel the spirit more than I wanted him to then. I think I was so focused on hoping he would learn a lot from conference that I neglected to a point all I could learn. I have gotten so attached to him. When we have the gospel and know of the happiness it brings it is only natural that we will want to share it. One thing that I have really enjoyed these past two conferences is watching or reading all of the talks again.

I loved how much of a topic member missionary work was. It is true that the church has reached only a small part of its potential. As members and missionaries we must join with Heavenly Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost and make our work and glory to help bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We can and should all do a better job at this. The need is far more urgent than I believe we realize. I know Heavenly Father will strengthen us as we do his work. The Norwegian word of the week is en for hold, which means a relationship.

Elder Ankenman

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I am staying in Oslo, but I am getting a new companion because Elder Bitner is going to be a new assistant to the mission president. My new companion will also be a zone leader, and his name is Elder Linge. Oslo will have ten missionaries because they are adding two more, so we are really lucky to be close since we are often together doing things at the institute center in Oslo. We have had some difficulties together, but we have also always been there to support each other, which has been wonderful. I am still very shy, which I need to work on. Although I have not spoken up as much, I do feel their support, and it has blessed me. The relationships I have been blessed to develop with Heavenly Father, Christ, the Holy Ghost and my district have helped a lot.

I do not believe faith and reason never contradict. When they appear to, it is due to a lack of knowledge or faith. Still, we cannot comprehend all things, so there are things that we must believe and come to know by faith and the whisperings of the spirit. One becomes converted to the gospel through the Holy Ghost. Spiritual truths can only be known through spiritual experiences. The spirit, the power and the truthfulness of the message of the gospel truly defy my understanding. We need both faith and reason. That is why we have them both. The gospel really is so simple when it gets down to it. I am trying to remember this more and more. I am trying to serve all I can and to do so with love. The Norwegian word of the week is å vise, which means to show.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

This week has been a good week. We have been incredibly blessed. We had a miracle last p-day. A member here in Oslo, who is originally from Portugal, called us and told us that a recent convert, who is also Portuguese, wanted us to come and teach her son. We did, and it was wonderful. We taught them and a number of other members who were at their home, and then we taught them again on Saturday. He is ten years old and is really awesome.

Yesterday, we also had a miracle. A long-time investigator, who has not been to church since last General Conference, came to church and really enjoyed it. He is incredible. He studies the scriptures every day and has done a tremendous amount of research. Elder Bitner and I both feel that he will be baptized and will be an incredibly strong member. Yesterday, we also had a high school class attend church, which was quite cool. We answered some questions for them, and we feel that they felt the spirit. Some of them said that they would like to come back.

I am just so amazed at the miracles that happen every day. It has helped me to be more grateful to my Heavenly Father because it reminds me how reliant upon him we truly are. We are teaching that man from the Congo again tomorrow. I know that serving others is the way we can feel closest to Heavenly Father. The opportunities I have had to serve others on my mission have undoubtedly been the happiest times. We are so blessed to know our Heavenly Father and to recognize his love for us, which goes far beyond our comprehension. A member told us yesterday that he believes that the strongest Norwegian members of the church have yet to be baptized. I believe that is true also, and it is my job to help go out and find them and help them to know of Heavenly Father's love. The Norwegian word of the week is å lære, which means to learn.

Elder Ankenman

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 16th, 2013

We have been very blessed this past week with a lot of new investigators, particularly young adults. One story is a referral we received from missionaries in Sweden. They are two sisters who are twenty years old and grew up in a part member family. Their father would not let them be baptized so they have not been yet. They have wonderful testimonies and plan to be baptized in Sweden in about a month, but they will continue to live in Oslo after that. They have started coming to church and institute activities, so we are very excited. That same day we got a call from a man who said that he would be moving to Oslo soon and would like to take the lessons and be baptized. That was a very miraculous days. In other efforts we have also been very blessed. There was one day when we were going to visit an inactive member where we contacted one guy right by the member’s home, we got an appointment with him, taught him and will be meeting with him again. It is undeniable that we are receiving guidance and assistance.

Our focus this past week was to work on doing member work, which we did a lot of, but it was gratifying to see the way Heavenly Father rewarded us with people to teach as we ministered unto his children. There are currently five investigators around twenty years old we are working with who we feel have great potential to become members of the church, which is incredible. It is getting darker and colder, but I have enjoyed wonderful weather for the most part.

I am trying to grow in my devotion to serving Heavenly Father and following Christ. One thing that has struck me recently is the simplicity of what we are asked to do by our Heavenly Father. He loves us and blesses us so much. We show him that we love him by keeping his commandments; studying the wonderful plan he has created for our benefit, following the example of his son who he sent to suffer for our inadequacies, and communicating to him. As we do these things we receive such peace, power and purpose in our lives. The more I am able to do these things, and the more I feel I view the world and people around me the way Heavenly Father and Christ do, the happier I am. The Norwegian word of the week is å lære, which means to learn.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, September 9th, 2013

It has been a good week. I have really felt that I have had many opportunities to serve people and show them Heavenly Father's love for them, which is the greatest feeling in the world. I have actually now met four Latinos who we have taught: two from Peru and two from Colombia. One of them has already agreed to be baptized and said that he received a spiritual confirmation of the restoration and the Book of Mormon. This made me elated. I am having to learn gospel words in Spanish. One investigator said that my Spanish has improved quite a bit since I began teaching him so that is good. I find Spanish to be a very spiritual language. It moves me so very much, so I am also tremendously grateful to have the opportunity to teach the gospel in it.

Sadly, the man who was going to be baptized on the 21st has asked to cancel the baptism and to stop meeting with us because he has realized the size of the commitment. He has spent his time on Sundays watching his grandchildren play sports for the past 10-15 years, so he feels like he would have to choose between his family and Heavenly Father. He feels he would be living a lie if he got baptized and did not come to church as often as he possibly could. We hope to be able to get him back and to get him to trust Heavenly Father and that He will provide a way always, as we are obedient. The saddest part is that he knows the church is true, but still will not join. Nevertheless, he is a wonderful man, and I know that it is not over yet.

We have had a lot of miracles this week where people have been put exactly in our path ready for the gospel. There was one time we were boarding the T-bane, which is the subway, and a man just came up to us and said are you Mormons? We talked to him for a half hour about the gospel and got his phone number. We should be having a lesson with him soon. I am so thankful to have Heavenly Father always watching over me. I receive so much strength that is beyond my own. There is no greater feeling in this world than being able to serve others, I have felt that feeling a lot as a missionary and have been very grateful for it.

When we contact, we usually just say hi we are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we would like to share a message that has brought us tremendous peace and happiness. We often talk to people about their beliefs and what is important to them and try to see if they would be able to meet with us and/or if we can have their phone number to contact them. We also have pass along cards that we use a lot if people are in a rush.

The members here are just wonderful, and it is so rewarding to see the light that the gospel brings. There is a member in Oslo who is from Taiwan and is a Mandarin professor at the University of Oslo. He does a lot of translation into Mandarin for the church. He joined the church against the will of his parents when he was eighteen. He has an incredible testimony and is a great guy. He also won best teacher in Oslo a couple years back. He invited us to dinner where we made sushi! It was Elder Bitner's first time eating sushi, and we ate with a senior couple who also had ever had sushi before. It was really good and a lot of fun. I have felt recently much love, peace and guidance from Heavenly Father, for which I have been very grateful. The Norwegian word of the week is herrlig, which means awesome that describes the members here perfectly!

Elder Ankenman

Friday, September 13, 2013

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

There is only one Oslo Ward (150+200 active members and 650 members in total) One incredible thing is that there are 52 different nationalities in the ward membership. Take that anyone who says we are just an American church. To have a group like that in one of the most secular places in the world is indeed a miracle. The people in the ward are remarkable. I spent more time speaking Spanish than Norwegian on Sunday. I went to Spanish speaking family home evening on Friday and Spanish speaking Sunday school. There was also a Spanish-speaking woman who has asked us to help her son. She only speaks Spanish, and I just know that I am here in Oslo now to help her since none of the other missionaries would have been able to communicate with her. Heavenly Father just puts us in the right place at the right time, as we are faithful. Unfortunately, our investigator from the Congo did not come to his return appointment and has not responded. There is a Kenyan woman who is a recent convert who we went and visited last night who has an amazingly strong testimony in Christ. We are really trying to push hard for member missionary work, which is in every way the best way. Despite what some say about missionaries, never forget that ours is a message of eternal happiness and peace for all. No matter what happens, remember Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there for us.

It is really sad to me what some people think about religion. There was a man we talked to who was really quite hostile towards us telling us that less than 1% of people in Norway go to church and that all of the wars in the world are because of religion. He was very mean and quite condescending, but the sad part is that that was really how he felt. It is completely ridiculous and naive to claim that the wars in the Middle East are really over religion, and it makes me sick to think about the ways people distort and manipulate the truth. That is one of Satan’s most sickening tricks. He is trying to get people to turn on religion. Christ died for us and suffered every bit of pain, sadness, weakness, inadequacy and loneliness that any of us have had, have and will have. Heavenly Father allowed this to happen for our happiness. You can feel the power of the atonement in your life. It really changes us. Before my mission, I did not really have a testimony of that, but I have a very powerful one now. Through the atonement, we can overcome everything that is not right in the world and eventually become perfected like Heavenly Father and Christ. I have felt this power, and I know that it is true. Through Christ we have marvelous opportunities, so we should be the happiest people in the world. As Christ said, we will have tribulation, but we need not fear. He has overcome the world.

We have had two member dinners so far and will have some more this week. In all honesty, the food has not been too exciting (tacos, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, cereal, chicken, pasta and such). The weather has been absolutely beautiful so far. The Norwegian word of the week is et skjlips´a tie. Thank you for all of your prayers and your emails.

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Monday, August 26th, 2013

I have finally arrived in Norway and I am serving in the Oslo. My companion is Elder Bitner who is really nice and is also the zone leader. There are eight missionaries working in Oslo: four elders and four sisters. We have five investigators right now. We hope to get more, but that is a lot for Oslo. Oslo is a really diverse place with people from almost everywhere. We have an appointment later today teaching a man from the Congo. We are also teaching a man from Romania, and we are going to start teaching some English lessons to two men from Peru, which I am excited to do to use my Spanish and share the spirit. People here are really nice, but Norway is a very secular place. I am very excited to be here and to continue to learn about the people and the culture. I am also excited to keep getting better at the language, and I know that Heavenly Father will help me as I strive to do so. I know that there is a reason I am here in Oslo and a reason I am here now. The fullness of these reasons surely goes beyond my understanding, but I do not need to know all things: I know enough.

It is a lot of change very quickly, and I would be lying if I said it was easy, but I am learning a lot, and I know I am never alone. Most of what we do is street contacting unless we have teaching appointments. It can be really hard to have so many different people turning you down, sometimes rather harshly. But I think it is so important to remember that missionary work has always been that way even for Christ. Still I cannot describe the joy it brings when people are willing to hear our message, and I have already seen miracles. For example, on my first day when we were out contacting and having a very difficult time finding people and not having the best of encounters, a man just ran up to us and asked us to explain the difference between Spirit Paradise and God's Kingdoms. We taught him a lesson the next day and have an appointment with him tonight.

It is simply amazing how people are set so divinely in our path as we are diligent and sincerely do our best. Some of the coolest times are when you are out and people start yelling MORMONS! One time a guy was calling out to us about Mormons Bok after we had walked past him, and we walked back and talked to him. He was with three friends and they were all really nice and said that would like to grab a bite to eat with us and talk about the church. They were quite impressed with my Norwegian, which was very nice of them to say.

The food is not yet too different. I have not had any dinners at members’ houses yet but we will have at least one this week. I did have a Norwegian hot dog. It is with potato salad, and really sweet and very different mustard on somewhat of a crepe. They are delicious!

I am learning quickly how important it is to rely on Heavenly Father not ourselves. This only makes sense, but the natural man does not tend to do that. We tend to be proud and have confidence in what we can do, which can at times be a great deal by the standards of the world. But through Heavenly Father's help, we can be so much more than we could ever dream of being otherwise. We are constantly filled with tremendous strength and courage and capacity beyond our own, and I know that this comes from our loving Heavenly Father. I am thankful for that knowledge.

As a missionary, I do not desire to force others to conform to my beliefs or to force them to believe anything rather, I wish to help them begin to have a relationship with Heavenly Father, who knows and loves all of us perfectly and has a perfect understanding of all things as well as all power. I do not claim to know all things or to have all the answers, but Heavenly Father does, and He wants nothing but our happiness. The gospel enables me to have a greater knowledge of the purpose of life and how I should view others. It gives me hope and faith that all that is wrong in the world will be made right. The scripture I wanted to share with you was Ether 12:4, which I feel says it best. “To know that God lives is to know that all will be well despite the flaws and frailties we have in this world”.

One thing I would urge everyone to do is help the missionaries around us. Being a missionary, I know how much referrals help the work progress. As one who lives the gospel, I have tasted of the joy of doing so. When we think of Lehi's dream and what happened when he tasted of Heavenly Father's love, we should recognize the universal happiness it brings. So why not share it! Missionaries cannot do it alone. The Norwegian word of the week is å høre, which means to hear.

Elder Ankenman

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

I am leaving for Norway on Monday the 19th. I am excited but nervous to be heading out to Norway, but I think I am ready. I know that my weaknesses will not matter as I rely upon the strengthening power of the atonement. I have been reading the Book of Mormon in Norwegian some, but probably not as much as I should be. It is a really good way to learn new words that may come up quite a bit. I think Preach My Gospel in Norwegian is also a really good learning tool.

It is still scary and incredible to think how quickly everything has happened. I feel myself drawing closer to Christ and Heavenly Father each day. The wisdom and love behind this work is beyond comprehension. I will be attending the temple today for the first time in the MTC and probably for the last time for the next two years. It is truly a joy to be able to participate in temple ordinances, particularly when you are aiding in the salvation and eternal happiness of your family members.

I know that family history is a powerful missionary tool. People love their families, and I cannot imagine how one could not be at the very least interested in the prospect of living with one's family forever. The assurance that we can do so is one of the greatest blessings of the gospel. I am so grateful to be blessed by the restored gospel and to be able to have so much more of a knowledge of human nature and the purpose of life. Whether the Norwegian people know it yet or not, they need the gospel to be really and truly happy, just like everyone else. It is difficult not to feel that we are on the verge of something huge here. If the Lord wants us to be able to convert hundreds or even thousands at this time, there is no doubt that we could do so. If the time is not yet, that is also fine. I cannot wrap my head around being in Norway and doing missionary work there so soon. I know that there are so many ways in which I am weak, but through Christ, and truly by no other means, I can become strong.

I wanted to share my daily schedule in the MTC (Missionary Training Center). It is mostly scripture study, teaching exercises, language study, and eating. This is a very exciting time for missionary work, and I am so glad that there are so many in our ward that has answered the Prophet's call.

We heard a talk on Sunday about the purpose of our purpose as missionaries. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ and receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. The reason we want people to do this is not because we want the church to have more members. It is because we want our brothers and sisters to feel their Heavenly Father's love for them. This is the source of the greatest happiness we can experience in this life and the next. The Norwegian word of the week is skjelden (pronounced like Sheldon), and it means rarely. As in skjelden does a physicist like Sheldon appear.

Elder Ankenman

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This Sunday we had a two-hour mission conference where we were addressed by a district president, the first counselor in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) presidency, the MTC president and their wives. Later that day we heard from Jenny Oaks Baker, who is Elder Oaks' daughter. She is an incredible violinist who attended Juilliard. She spoke to us about spiritual gifts, and we were blessed to hear her play quite a bit for us.

The more I study the gospel and the more I feel the love that Heavenly Father and Christ have for us all, the clearer it becomes what is most important in life. We are here to love and help one another. As Christ said, by this shall we be known as his disciples: if we have love one to another. I am filled with love as I ponder Christ's ministry and his atoning sacrifice. Through Him all that is wrong in the world has been made right. With knowledge of the veracity of the gospel message come unspeakable comfort and happiness. I certainly do not know all things, but I do know that I am where I am supposed to be at this time in my life. To be able to say this is incredible, and I am so thankful that I honestly and truly can. I know the church is true. It brings such a light to our lives. As we abide by its principles we have inexpressible joy.

I watched a video about using family history as a missionary tool and one of the things they said was that we foolishly draw lines to separate missionary work, family history work and temple work when they are all the same work. They are all part of the work of salvation. I am excited to be heading to Norway in less than two weeks. I know that it is where I am meant to be.

I do not get my travel plans until Friday, but I am sure I will be in a group since that is how the other districts have done it and there are seventeen of us going to Norway at the same time. I think the day will be the nineteenth, but I am not sure. I do not think I will know where I will be in Norway until I get there. From hearing our teachers talk about it, it sounds like people move around quite a lot while they are there, which should be fun.

I just got Jesus the Christ and True to the Faith on my ipad from the gospel library app. I am excited to learn from them. The more I am at the MTC, the more I learn the need to be as in tune with the spirit as much as possible. I know that Heavenly Father helps us tremendously in our lives through the gift of the Holy Ghost as we live righteously and seek to do good. I really like a quote we heard from Elder Bednar yesterday in a video, and I paraphrase, "Concerning whether a prompting is from yourself or from the spirit I offer this advice: stop worrying about it!" We can rarely see the greater picture to truly know what the purposes and origins of most of our impressions are, but I know that we have the gift of the Holy Ghost as we live worthily. So if you receive a prompting and it does not hurt, it is almost certainly from Heavenly Father. The Norwegian word of the week is en anledning, which means an opportunity.


Elder Ankenman

While Elder Ankenman is in the MTC in Provo he can receive daily messages from Dear If anyone would like to contact him this way here is a link: He will still have access to email every Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Well, I am half way done at the MTC. I am doing well. I think my district is getting closer together each day, which is nice. I miss you guys very much, but I know that I am where I should be. As I told you guys, our teachers are awesome. I guess the more I am here, the more I learn the necessity of the work, the firmness of the foundation and the spirit of love that is at the heart of all gospel principles. I could not be more grateful for where I come from. I have been blessed with challenges and experiences that strengthen me and enable me to look at the world in a very unique way. I love the gospel and the hope it brings for all people. I hope to be able to fulfill my call and continue to grow in my understanding.

I spoke at church this past Sunday about recognizing promptings from the Holy Ghost, and people seemed to enjoy it. I know that Heavenly Father is always mindful of us. All things will be for our good. People need to know about the gospel and that there is no need to fear. I particularly love the lyrics to "Come, Come Ye Saints." We will have difficulties, but we have an all-powerful God of miracles on our side. Through the atonement it is indeed true "All is well!" Christ has paid the price for not only our sins but also all of our weaknesses, imperfections, pains, sorrows and all that is wrong. In Christ, all is made right through our Heavenly Father’s perfect plan. I pray that we can all grow in our comprehension of this wonderful gospel and ever draw closer to our Heavenly Father, our Savior and the Holy Ghost who will guide us in all things. My branch president’s wife said that we should read the conversion stories of our family members to know where we come from.

I know that Heavenly Father and Christ love us more than we can comprehend and that living the gospel is the way to real happiness. I am re-reading the Book of Mormon. It is amazing the spirit you can feel just by reading. I know that the Book of Mormon provides more insight and wisdom on how one should live than any other book. I am thankful for the restoration of the gospel and with it the knowledge that there are miracles happening all around us every day. I believe that God does not cease His miracles. I have the standard works on my ipad in English, Norwegian, Spanish and Portuguese, excluding the bible in Norwegian and Portuguese because the church does not own the rights to translations in those languages. It is wonderful to see the gospel being distributed to so many tongues. It is indeed the fulfillment of the Lord's promise. There are a couple Elders in my zone who are going to Netherlands Spanish speaking. There are cool guys, and it felt awesome to speak Spanish again! The Norwegian word of the week is flink, which means awesome or talented.


Elder Ankenman

While Elder Ankenman is in the MTC in Provo he can receive daily messages from Dear If anyone would like to contact him this way here is a link: He will still have access to email every Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I am well and trying to learn and understand all I can. I think I am getting more and more comfortable with the language and people. I have awesome and inspiring teachers. We have two new teachers who are each investigators for us. Brother Smith, who was Orjan, and Brother Barthalamuel (that's probably not the right spelling) who is new. They are both such beasts! Sunday night we watched a talk by Elder Bednar called "Character of Christ" that I highly recommend. He said that the fundamental character of Christ is that when the natural man or woman (he said that the cookie monster is a perfect example of such a person) would turn inward he would ALWAYS turn outward in love. Knowing who we are and what we have the potential to become brings incredible meaning to life and I am so grateful for the unique and powerful ways that I have been taught this lesson. It is a lesson I hope to bring to the Norwegian people with love. I know Heavenly Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost are watching over us all, helping us, blessing us, and guiding us in perfect love and unity.

Yesterday was a very tragic day in Norway two years ago, tantamount to 9/11 for us. I will not go into why since it is a long story, but suffice it to say that the essence of what it means to be Norwegian was destroyed and the fabric of life and the peace that the people had were shredded. Our teachers told us that we are the only people in the world who can give the Norwegian people what they need: the peace, love and happiness that come from living and knowing the true gospel. I pray that we will be able to fulfill this tremendous task.

I know that all religions and philosophies of which I know have a tremendous amount in common. We must not forget this and must never lose respect and admiration for those of other beliefs. I also know that the fullness of the truth provides a light and happiness that is unlike anything else. This truth is only taught and found in the church to which we belong. Anyone who is a sincere seeker of truth who will study and pray to know this is true can also know that the church is true. I have started reading the Book of Mormon again since I got here. It is just wonderful. I would urge you guys to study the scriptures together and on your own. It just fills my heart with joy to read and hear the hope that we have in the truth and the hope that there is for all, The purpose of my mission is to invite others to come unto Christ so that they can know the greatest joy that is available in this life and the life to come. We heard a great talk from Elder Holland in the 2009 October Conference about the Book of Mormon that I think you will like.

I am reminded that none of what happens, particularly when one is on the Lord's errand, is by chance. There is a reason I am going to Norway at this time with this group. I miss you very much, but I know that there is nothing more important or impactful than helping others come unto Christ.

Elder Ankenman

While Elder Ankenman is in the MTC in Provo he can receive daily messages from Dear If anyone would like to contact him this way here is a link: He will still have access to email every Tuesday.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

As you can probably guess, my P-day in the Mission Training Center (MTC) is Tuesday. There are 17 of us leaving for Norway on the 20th of August. There are nine people in my district: 6 elders and 3 sisters (the other 8 going to Norway are all elders, but the last group that went to Norway had way more sisters than elders). I am staying at the main MTC (Missionary Training Center). I think that Norwegian is going as well as can be expected, but it certainly isn't easy. We have a pretend investigator named Orjan, who is actually going to be our teacher starting next week. We have taught him 3 lessons already. My companion is Elder Nielson. My branch president was companions with the guy who was the last Mission President in Norway while they were both in the language training center. My branch President was tall and athletic and his companion was a scrawny 5 ft. 7 musician. I thought it was so cool and certainly not a coincidence that Eldste, elder in Norwegian, Nielson and I fit that same description. He is tall and athletic, social and outgoing but we can still get along very well as those two companions did way back when.
I am getting along very well with my district, and I think the MTC is going well, but I would much rather be out there teaching. Still, I know that I am not ready for that yet, not in Norwegian anyway. We heard a wonderful talk rebroadcast by a former Relief Society Presidency member who became the President of Deseret Books about using our time in the best way and drawing close to the Lord. She quoted something Elder Holland once said; "Many of us live our lives like we're going to be here forever when we aren't, we can't and we won't”.
What strikes me most about the gospel is the unique and precious truth it proclaims that all people are children of God and because of this all people can themselves become like him. In difficult times, when our faith is tried we must remember this. We must remember that we are here to accomplish things. We are here to serve. We are here to love. We are here to grow. We all have our weaknesses, but we need not lose hope or faith. If we do our best, we all can be exalted and become like our Heavenly parents. I am supposed to give a word in Norwegian every week, so this week it is "fred" which means peace. I wish you peace, love and happiness.
Elder Ankenman

While Elder Ankenman is in the MTC in Provo he can receive daily messages from Dear If anyone would like to contact him this way here is a link: He will still have access to email every Tuesday.