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