Friday, September 26, 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014

It was incredible to have Elder Bednar (an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) visit. The Spirit was incredibly strong. It was also really wonderful to be able to see members from Oslo and Alta there as well. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but it was so wonderful to see everyone. Both stake presidents and their wives spoke as well as an area seventy from Finland and Elder and Sister Bednar. It was focused of course upon the hastening of the work. Much of Elder Bednar’s address was to people who are not members of the church. He explained why our church is named what it is and taught about the restoration of the gospel. We were asked in preparation to the missionary meeting we later had with him to read a few talks he had given before that focused a lot on the principle of acting in accordance to our faith. Faith is an assurance that leads to action and ultimately reveals the proof after the trial of our faith. His challenge was for nonmembers to read and pray about the Book of Mormon not merely to know whether it is true but so that, just like Joseph Smith, they could then know the action they must take. He said when you know this is true, and then you will know that you need to join this church.

To the members Elder Bednar told us to be converted and live the gospel. He said that missionary work is a byproduct and not the cause of conversion. If we are converted, we will naturally share the gospel. If we struggle with it or fear it, then we must become more fully converted. When we live the gospel people will naturally come to think we are weird and ask questions. It is our duty to give them the answers boldly and simply to the questions they ask. As we do so, many will become curious and desire to know more. He also spoke of how the gospel answers the questions of the soul, which all people have regardless of their backgrounds. We have been blessed with the answers making it our duty to share them.

Our missionary meeting was formatted as a question and answer program. It was completely guided by the Spirit. It was not planned. It was really awesome. He asked people to share things they learned, and then asked many follow up questions to them. He is such a bright, spiritual and loving man. One interesting thing he said is that many people think apostles go around to give talks or just speak in general conference, but that is not actually their job. Their job is to witness of and represent Christ and go after ones as he said. The Savior's way of ministering is truly individual. There is no other way it can be done. It is truly an experience I will never forget. I am very excited to get to work and apply what I have learned.

It strikes me so much how they are ordinary people yet people who receive such strength because of their humility and reliance upon the Lord. One thing Elder Bednar said is that it is so wrong for so many from wealthy countries to believe they need to go in to African countries, or Guatemala and make them more like them. The last thing they need is the pride that affluence often brings. Rather it is us who are from the affluent countries who need to learn from them. Elder Bednar oversees the church in Africa where there is tremendous growth. He said that when you have nothing you focus on what matters most. I have learned much from the faith and goodness of the Guatemalans and Salvadorians among others whom I have come to know. We do have a new baptismal date for our investigator for this Friday, which is very exciting. The Norwegian word of the week is lærerik, which means instructive or profitable for learning.

Elder Ankenman

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