Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday, February 24th, 2014

We have had some really miraculous experiences this week. I remember we had appointments with two of our most positive investigators in the same day, and we thought that they both might want to stop meeting. We just went in as normal and tried to teach by the Spirit what we felt they needed, and what we needed to say and do was certainly given to us. Both lessons went very well and we are continuing to have contact and meet. It is so cool to truly know that this is not our work. We just have to be willing and worthy tools. We are working on trying to get the family history course started. We are hoping to make 12 different lesson plans so that the members or the next missionaries who come can carry on with the course. We are very excited about it.

I had a really wonderful birthday. Thank you all so much for the gifts and more importantly for all the love you have shown me and continue to show me. I am so very grateful for that, but I do not think I can be grateful enough. Geir and Linnea gave me a skewer sort of thing that is famous in Finnmark, and they also sang me the Norwegian birthday song, which is awesome. We had hot dogs on my birthday, Norwegian style, which are delicious. We saw some really awesome northern lights yesterday, which were by far the best I have seen. They are so beautiful.

Reflecting a little on my birthday, I think I realized even more how grateful I am for the many wonderful blessings in my life, especially for my family and friends. I am so thankful that we are an eternal family. That is the greatest gift we could ever have. It is such a blessing to be a missionary and to be able to share the gospel. I feel that we are blessed more than we understand. The Norwegian word of the week is børsdag, which means birthday.

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Monday, February 17th, 2014

First, I would like to thank you all so much for your individual and collective love and support. I receive so much strength from it. We have been teaching a Norwegian couple since a little bit before I came here. The woman is having a much easier time understanding and growing in the gospel. We will be meeting with her later today. We are also teaching a graduate student from Nepal, a man from the Ukraine who is practically a member, another Norwegian woman who we met contacting on the street, who was incredibly excited to talk about families and some others. One difficulty I have had a lot more here than in Oslo is meeting with people consistently, which is really key in order to help people develop their relationship with Heavenly Father and receive that confirmation from the Holy Ghost that our message is true and that coming unto Christ is the way to come back to Heavenly Father. If we do not have consistent contact, it is very easy for them to not progress as they could. We still study in the morning and then begin our proselyting. Contacting on the street here is a lot less productive than it is in Oslo, so we do not do it nearly as much. We knock on doors a lot, and have a lot of potential investigators we have been trying to work with as well as members we try to visit.

We had a really cool experience on Saturday with the Nepali family whose kids have a hard time being motivated to come to church. For the first time all three of them were present when we came to share a spiritual thought with them. We showed them a video and talked about what it means to be a child of God and focused on the importance of prayer individually and as a family in order to help us come to know our Heavenly Father and receive love and guidance from Him. Then we gave them the door hangers my mom made to remind them to pray every day, and they loved them and asked where we bought them. They were really touched when they heard that my mom took the time to make them for them. We had prayed that we would be able to teach them all and really help them come closer to Heavenly Father, and that prayer was definitely answered.

We had an investigator who does not understand how there can be a God when there is so much evil in the world and how Christians can be doing such bad things sometimes. We tried to explain, that it is through Christ that peace will come to the world and that personal peace is available to each of us through Christ because of the Atonement. He said, not at all trying to be mean, that we would do more good in two days in an underdeveloped country helping people meet their basic needs than two years in Norway preaching the gospel. It is difficult to articulate at times and difficult sometimes to see in the moment, but I know that it is Christ that is the light of this world. When we serve others, we serve our God. I know that I am here for a reason and that there is no other work more important than this.

One thing I am trying very hard to do is to increase my faith and my vision of what not only can but will be accomplished and not only by Heavenly Father working through someone but Him working through me. I read an article in the Ensign about the growth the church has experienced in Russia, and it gave me tremendous hope and faith for what will also come to pass here in Norway. I feel that Family History and focusing on families will be a large part of that growth. Our ward mission leader, Knut Åge told us that we could plan to go ahead and begin in a week and a half to start our family history course. That leaves us with a lot to do and a lot of exciting potential. It will give the members the opportunity to learn to be able to provide service and teach others how to do the same.

It is still really weird sometimes to realize where I am. At times it is easy to feel inadequate, but I have always felt the peace and reassurance of Heavenly Father to overcome those feelings. A mission is a very incredible experience. I feel that my love and appreciation for my family and friends has grown and yet I simultaneously do not want to leave what I am doing at all. It is truly a blessing to be able to be involved in this work, and we are indeed all enlisted. The Norwegian word of the week is slekts forsining, which means family history research.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, February 10th, 2014

It has been another good week. It has also been WAY warmer, which has been nice. Elder Reber has been here since Wednesday. He is also from California but from down south. He studied math at BYU for a year before he came and would like to be involved in research. He is a really nice guy. We are both excited about the work we have to do. Elder Reber and I have been talking a lot about things we can do and are hoping to try to start offering a family history course for members and non-members, Elder Reber has had a bit of experience with family history so that is exciting. We are having a training meeting in Bodø this week for the Northern missionaries, so it will be cool to go there. I am doing the best I can to work hard and use time well so that we can help everyone we can. I am of course not perfect, but it is good to know that that is all according to plan for us all. Living the gospel is the plan, and not the backup plan, for each of us.

With Valentine’s Day coming up this week it is particularly important perhaps to consider the concept and characteristic of love, pure love. The pure love of Christ, charity, is described by Paul to be the greatest of the Christ-like attributes, and he is right. Love is what motivates Heavenly Father and Christ in all they do, and it is what should motivate us. When we have this pure love, it leads us to act, to reach out to others, to make others happy, to serve, and to preach the gospel. I want so much to be able to develop that kind of love. As Preach My Gospel says, we cannot develop Christ-like attributes ourselves, they are gifts of God and come as we pray, study and act in faith. My Valentine’s Day wish is that we all may be filled with that love to a greater degree and that we may feel that love from others and from Heavenly Father and Christ. There is no greater gift than that. Make sure that people remember on Valentine’s Day that love is a VERB! When we really have love we show it through our actions. The Norwegian word of the week is et hierte which means a heart.

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

We found out yesterday that Eldste Hurst will be moving to Fredrikstad and that I will be getting a new companion, Eldste Reber, who is currently in Drammen. I think it will be good. I have met Eldste Reber once. I am going to be the senior companion in Alta. Eldste Reber is only six weeks younger than me in the mission though, so I think he will be able to do a lot. I hope so because it is really hard for me to have any idea how to get around geographically.

I am really excited to be in Alta still. It is a really cool place in more ways than one. It has been a lot warmer here the past couple of days, which has been really nice. Linnea says that February is the coldest month of the year, so I will have to do my best to stay warm. I played guitar with Geir this week, which was a lot of fun. We just got a computer in the building we use for church this past weekend, but we still need to finish setting everything up, but it is very exciting. There are some members here who can speak English. Finnmark County does have the worst English in Norway generally speaking though.

I feel like there is a lot to do to help the members here. We are trying to figure out more ways we can help people and use our time wisely. I think family history is a very important part of this work and something that could really help strengthen the members and help investigators as well as help us find people to teach. I know that Heavenly Father will guide us as we rely on Him and pray for his help. I am doing my best and will try to do better to be the best missionary and disciple of Christ I can be. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers and will help us to do his work. As President Monson says, when we are on the Lord’s errand we are entitled to the Lord’s help. The Norwegian word of the week is kalt, which means cold. 

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Monday, January 27th, 2014

For the most part the cold has not impacted what we are doing too much, which has been good. It is a huge blessing to have the car to help us stay warm. We had a visit from the first counselor in the mission presidency at church. I have met him before, and he is a really wonderful guy. After church, we all had a meal together at the church and then had a branch council. We rent out a room at this center every Sunday. This branch wants so much to grow and to share the joy of the gospel. It is very inspiring and humbling to me to see the faithfulness of the members here. They have a love and understanding for the gospel and for everyone that is so important. I came out of the meeting motivated to work harder and do more to help the work go forward and bring the blessings of the gospel into people's lives.

I have seen the northern lights twice. Once it was incredibly weak, but the second time it was quite a bit stronger. It was really cool, but I hope to be able to see them more and a lot stronger. One thing that makes it hard is that we have to be in bed by 10:30, and the lights tend to be strongest later in the night. We will be having our next moves in a week and a half and moves call this coming Sunday, so it will be exciting to see what happens and to try to get everything we can done to help the area be strong for the coming transfer. I doubt that I will be moved, especially since Elder Hurst has been here all of his mission, but it is possible I suppose.

The ice hotel was really cool. It is the northern most ice hotel in the world. There seem to be a lot of northern most claims going on around here. We do have a lot of Sami people around here, but I think almost all of them speak Norwegian so you kind of just have to judge by appearance, unless you are in one of the Sami towns. We do not teach lessons or give talks at church usually. The members do a lot.

We do not have a family history center here, and we actually are trying to figure out how we can get people involved in family history work more. It is all the same redemptive work. I have felt a lot recently simultaneously that I am imperfect and yet a feeling of peace and comfort that I am not supposed to be yet. We are here to learn and grow and as we really do our best we will receive guidance and all will truly be will. That knowledge brings such wonderful peace. Another wonderful thing to know is that repentance is the plan, not the backup plan. The atonement is our only hope, so we should use it. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over all of us. I feel very strongly of His love. Our hope of eternal life is truly an anchor to the soul. We must press forward and be anxiously engaged. The Norwegian word of the week is å gleme, which means to forget.

Elder Ankenman