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

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