We are going to go visit the world’s northern most ice hotel today, which should be cool quite literally. It is getting a lot lighter here. The sun can even be seen from some parts of town for an hour each day. It is not providing much warmth yet though. I still have not seen the northern lights, but I think I will soon. Elder Hurst’s Dad is a math professor at BYU Hawaii. Elder Hurst wants to be a chemistry professor though. We are actually co-senior companions, so it switches every week. We went to visit Tromso this week, which is actually quite a large city with an important university, for a zone leader-training meeting. Elder Badger, who I was in the tripanionship with, was in Tromso for six months and has told me a lot about it, so it was pretty cool to be able to go there. The next day we drove to Hammerfest, which is the northern most city in the world. It is actually quite a bit warmer there, but it is super windy. Hammerfest used to have its own branch, but over the years almost everyone moved away, so it is now the Alta\Hammerfest branch. It has been really cold here the past couple of days, but we are surviving.
There are a lot of really cool people here, and I think we have a lot of potential to help the branch grow and to support the members. Our branch president and ward mission leader are both converts themselves of about six or seven years, so they are both very excited to help the work go forward. I know that we have found and will continue to find the people who are prepared as we are humble and reliant upon Heavenly Father.
This past week we have been trying to focus more on addressing the importance of families and using family history in our work. The gospel provides our families with such inexpressible blessings that I think it is often difficult to even recognize most of them in our lives since it is all we have ever known. The work of sealing families together for eternity is one of the purposes of the church's existence. There is no more important work than this the work of salvation and of helping our family reach exaltation together, which is the only way we can attain it. That definition of a missionary, one who spends a short time away from one's family so that others can spend eternity with theirs, really hits the nail on the head in my mind.
One thing we have been trying to do, and something I think we all should try to do, is to be more Christ-focused. Without Christ, we have no hope, we have no light and we have no chance of overcoming the weaknesses, difficulties and infirmities that we face. With Christ, we have nothing but hope. He is the light and the life for us all. We need to use the atonement in our daily lives to receive the strength that we simply do not have ourselves. I know that we all can be perfected through Christ and receive a fullness of joy with Him and His Father and our eternal family and that is true for everyone. That is the message we must share. That is the message that will bring peace and joy to the entire world.
One of the most beautiful things that the gospel does is to teach us what it really means to be human. We are each a beloved son or daughter of Heavenly Parents who has a divine potential and destiny. I think when we really have that knowledge and internalize it, it should change absolutely every aspect of our lives, particularly the way we view ourselves and the way we view others. That knowledge provides the understanding that each and every one of us truly does matter. The fact that Christ came and suffered in order to give us the ability to overcome our sins, weaknesses, trials and heartaches through His grace, is a tremendous testament of that truth. Each of us is precious to Him, and He knows, understands and LOVES each of us perfectly. I think that understanding helps us certainly be able to forgive others as well as to be able to forgive ourselves. The word of the week is en drøm=a dream. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!