Thursday, November 27, 2014

Monday, November 24th, 2014

I found out that I will be staying in Narvik, which is very exciting. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help the work continue to go forward here. Elder Cooper will be moving back down to Sandefjord, and my new companion is named Elder Griffin. There is a wonderful family who lives in Harstad, which is about an hour and a half away. It is too far away for us to go and visit, so we Skype with them to share messages. We had a family home evening last week with them. They have three kids, so we thought it would be a good idea to give them an activity. We asked them to draw the best gifts they could think of. The youngest kid, who is maybe three or four, drew the temple, another drew, the missionaries and the third drew the earth. The Mom drew the Christ child, and the dad drew his family. Those are definitely some wonderful gifts. It is wonderful that even from a young age the kids understand what truly is most important. As we grow older, it can become easier to forget, but we must always remember the gifts God has given us. I know that we can all make significant contributions even if it does not always feel like it. Small and simple things do indeed make great things come to pass.

I am very excited for Thanksgiving. It is a really wonderful time to be able to reflect upon all the many blessings God has given us. There are too many count. The greatest blessings in my life are the gospel and all of you. I am so grateful to know that the Savior has made it possible for us to be together forever and for the love he extends to all of us. I am very grateful to be able to enter soon into the Christmas season to remember and ponder upon the gift He is for us all. We must unwrap and use the gift of His Atonement in our lives. I am so eternally grateful and indebted to Him for His sacrifice. I know that He lives and speaks to us today, and I am so grateful for that knowledge. I know that all that is good comes from God and that He watches over and loves us. Thank you all for your goodness and faith. The Norwegian word of the week is takksigelse, which means Thanksgiving.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, November 17th, 2014

We traveled to Trondheim for a Zone Leader Training Meeting, which was really good. We had some fun activities and were able to increase our focus I think. One thing we talked about is the need to have focused and effective planning so we can really make our activities meaningful. We have already seen a great improvement in our planning, so I am very grateful for that. I think we also have been able to keep building up the branch and have been able to help them to know how they can be involved in missionary work. One thing I am very grateful for is the understanding the restoration gives us of the nature of God. It is a very simple but for some difficult concept that God is our Heavenly Father. I know that this is true. That knowledge has given me so much comfort and peace. It explains so much about the plan of salvation and gives it profound meaning. I know that Jesus Christ is God's son and our Savior. He has given us an example to follow and has provided His Atonement to enable, strengthen, heal and change us.

There is a really cool member family from the Congo who live three hours away in a place called Borkanes. The parents are both converts, and their daughter was baptized this weekend in a pool. They all have such strong testimonies. It is so humbling and inspiring to see how dedicated to the gospel they are even though they live so far away from any other members. They are truly converted. The guy also had blue dress shoes, which was cool. Even cooler, is that he pulled them off. They also brought friends to church and have such a desire to see the church grow. One of the members gave a talk in church this week and was talking about different problems and things we do not fully understand. He held up his scriptures with the Tro er Svaret case (my mom made) and said faith is the answer for me at least. I know that that small thing meant so much to him.

We have gotten some snow, and it has cooled down a bit, but it still is not too cold. I do not think it gets as cold here as in Alta usually, but it can be pretty slippery because the snow and ice are not as solid. We taught a man this week who really desires to understand more about God, but it is difficult for him to reason it all out. Reason is crucial; however, we cannot comprehend all that God can, and we cannot rely upon our own knowledge alone. We must seek knowledge from Heaven. I know the heavens are open and that God is eager to bless us with knowledge. We must seek after it and work for it, but it is available to all. It is such a great joy to be able to be focused upon the things that matter most. I am so grateful for the foundation the gospel provides us. Although there are many uncertain things and challenges in life, God is constant and He is always there. The Norwegian word of the week is fornuft, which means intelligence.

Elder Ankenman

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Monday, November 10th, 2014

We have been trying to take all the opportunities we can to teach people as we talk to them. This has really helped people to open up to us and has given us many more opportunities to teach. It has built my testimony that progress and miracles happen in the Lord's timetable and not ours, but our efforts to be diligent, ready and worthy to accomplish miracles enable us to be instruments in His hands. We spoke with one man for example about the Book of Mormon and then asked him if he believed that God could speak with him personally to tell him that something is true. He had never really thought about personal revelation before, and asking him questions to get him to think about a truth and what that truth could mean to him helped him to make a decision for himself and gave the Holy Ghost an opportunity to bear witness of what we were saying. He invited us to come in, and we were able to teach him about the restoration, which seemed to really touch him. I know that missionary work is all about sincerely loving and helping our brothers and sisters and because of that desiring their happiness. Our happiness is the intent and purpose of the gospel. Indeed when we lose ourselves for the Lord's sake we find ourselves. That is true.

We have also had some really cool experiences with doing more work with members. We had a cool experience teaching a woman with our branch president. She was somewhat open, though it seemed like she had a hard time understanding our message. It was so cool to really be able to work together with our branch president and see him teach and testify. He is a very caring and loving teacher, and I know that she felt that he truly cared about her. When people feel of our love as Elder Holland has said it makes it much easier for people to be able to begin to understand how God loves us all equally and perfectly. That is nearly impossible for one who has not felt love at all to believe, and how could we be the servants of a loving God who loves all men if we do not do our best to develop that kind of love?

I am so grateful for the loving examples you all have given me that have helped me to know that God loves me. I am grateful for Jesus Christ and his example of pure and perfect love. I know that He did all He did and that He does all He does for us. He desires to lift us up, to save, to redeem, to empower, to bless, and ultimately to perfect us. We must choose to follow Him so that we can accept and enjoy the gifts He is so anxious to give us. I hope and pray that we may all do so, and that we may know that we have a Father in Heaven, and a Savior who both desire to help and strengthen us. There are mindful of us and have given us the Holy Ghost to guide us.

We have talked about doing some stuff with family history, but it is still in very preliminary stages. We will be traveling to Trondheim again this week for another meeting, which will be fun. We will be having a baptism for a member's daughter on Saturday, and we will be singing with our branch President at sacrament meeting the next day. The Norwegian word of the week is frimodighet, which means boldness.

Elder Ankenman

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

It was a lot of fun traveling around a little bit. Bodø and Trondheim are both very cool cities. It was nice seeing people again. President Evans leads our zone conferences, and the assistants help in the teaching as well. The topic was member missionary work, which is among my favorites. One thing we talked about and something the church leaders in Norway have really been pushing is getting members to study Preach My Gospel. I am so grateful for all that I have learned from Preach My Gospel. I remember when I went to Summerfest (music camp at BYU) and my counselor said that Preach My Gospel had changed his life. I know what he meant. It truly was written on the other side of the veil and is a guide for all of us. It has strengthened my understanding of the basic doctrines of the gospel, what they mean, how to learn them, how to live them, how to teach them, and how to work and serve together. It is so important for us to come together and to really be together in this work. We are all missionaries. I know that the Lord is working with us. It is getting a lot darker here, and I think the cold will be coming soon. It is good we have the light of the world and a warm message.

Norwegians do not really celebrate Halloween though people say it is getting bigger every year. Trondheim is a pretty big city, but there was no one dressed up that I could see, and unfortunately I could not really dress up. I tried to have a festive tie though. There is a missionary from Norway who I met at the conference who also speaks really good Spanish. It was a lot of fun to speak a little with him.

One thing I have been reflecting on a lot especially with my conversations with people is how necessary the Holy Ghost is. Logic can take us pretty far, but one cannot understand the gospel by logic alone. Only the Spirit can teach us truth. Sadly, as the Book of Mormon says there are many, even those who say they believe in Christ who do deny the Holy Ghost who giveth utterance. I know that God speaks to us today and will answer our sincere prayers. I also know that this work is true. I can tell you about one more members this week. Her name is Sister Gundersen. She converted to the church when she used to live in Bergen. She used to live in Alta as a member as well. She teaches institute here every week and is super solid. She is a very kind and loving person.

I am very grateful for all the support we receive. There are so many forces seen and unseen helping this work to go forward. I have to do my best, and then I know that the Lord will consecrate my efforts. I know that is true for all of us. I hope you have a wonderful week and feel of God's love. The Norwegian word of the week is Å Sammearbeide, which means to work together.

Elder Ankenman

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monday, October 27th, 2014

It is still surprisingly not too cold. Narvik is a really cool and beautiful place. We do a lot of walking, and it is incredibly hilly, so I get a pretty good workout especially when we go far out to knock on doors. We have a really wonderful branch here with some very dedicated members, and we want to focus on helping and strengthening them, particularly in missionary work of course. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to be a part of this wonderful work and serve the Lord. The fruits of our labors are not always immediate or evident, but they are there nonetheless. It is so moving for me to be able to see the strength of the testimonies of so many of the members here. It can be hard to stand-alone in the states as a member of the church at times, but it is a very different challenge being in such an isolated place. It is truly inspiring to see the light the gospel brings to all people who humbly seek to follow the Savior and His restored gospel. We can truly feel of the Lord's love as we forget ourselves and get to work.

One of the members who joined the church against his father's will when he was 15, he is much older now, gave a talk in Sunday bearing his testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the truthfulness of the message of the restoration. He used a story Hugh Nibley used to illustrate how people get caught up in the sideshow about how a boy had discovered a diamond. All sorts of different experts from various fields talked about how unlikely it would be or tried to come up with different explanations for why it would appear to be a diamond. None of them actually tested the gem to see if it is a diamond but simply talked about why they thought it is impossible and not even worth their time. That is exactly how many people who try to attack the church do it. They focus on the side points, they take things out of context, but they do not actually sincerely try the experiment, which will tell them whether Joseph Smith was a prophet. A diamond is a diamond, and a prophet is a prophet. It is by their fruits we shall know them as the Savior instructed. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that God is willing to reveal that to all who sincerely wish to attain that knowledge and act according to the light they receive as Moroni says those who have faith in Christ, a sincere heart and real intent.

We are really trying to find more people to teach. The man we found last week is actually very busy and will not be able to meet for a long time. His name is Eugene, so it would be wonderful if you all could pray for him. It would also be great if you could pray for the branch and that we can have baptisms. We have a goal for two more this year. We have an amazing branch president who is actually related to Linnea (church member in Alta). He is Finish, but his first language is Swedish. He teaches physics at the local community college. His name is President Nyman, which means new man. He is really cool. We also have a husband and wife who are both from Narvik and are both converts, the husband joined when he was fifteen and the wife after they had been married for a while. Tonight we are skyping with someone for a family home evening. They live in Harstad, which is about an hour and a half away.

We will be traveling later in the week to Bodø first to go on splits and then to Trondheim for a zone conference on Halloween. I also sent in my absentee ballot today. The Norwegian word of the week is greier, which means stuff. A lot of missionaries like to use it in their norwinglish e.g. and all that greier, thanks for the greier.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, October 20th, 2014

I am very excited to be in Narvik. It is quite a big change, but I am glad to be here. We have a branch of the church here with anywhere from 3 to 15 members each Sunday. We have very wonderful and faithful members. Narvik itself is fairly small in terms of population. It is very mountainous and beautiful. To travel here, I flew from Oslo to Bodø to Narvik on a small propeller plane from Bodø to Narvik. We have quite a bit of sunlight still, but it is getting darker and darker as well as colder and colder. We still do not have snow though.

We are the only missionaries for quite a ways. The closest missionaries are in Bodø and Tromsø. It is just the two of us in Narvik. We have a nice apartment, which even has a computer in it that we are allowed to use. We have one family with three children, but apart from that we do not have much else of a primary for now. I know that the gospel is true and that we live in a time of miracles. It is usually through small and simple things that these great things come to pass, but through those means and us the weak and simple things of the world, I know that the Lord truly doth confound the wise. One of the things I really like about being in the North of Norway in a small branch is the simplicity that allows us to recognize blessings more readily than I think we otherwise might. We can see more easily the progress we are making at times. Each individual always makes a difference, but that is more obvious when you have fewer parties.

We had a really cool experience this week while we were out talking to people on the street. We stopped a man who was pushing his young son in a stroller and started talking to him about the church and the restoration of the gospel. He was very positive, and Elder Copper realized that he was a man who had actually referred himself to the church on, but the missionaries were unable to begin teaching him because he works in a city that is pretty far away, and we do not have a car. He lives in Narvik on the weekends though and said we could come visit the next day. We did, and he also came to church on Sunday. We will be meeting with him again on Saturday. He is a very kind, wonderful and strong man with a powerful faith in the Savior. It was truly a miracle that we were able to cross paths. I know that the Lord led us to meet each other.

I am also very grateful to be with my new companion Elder Cooper. He is so kind, considerate and unselfish. He is also quite a big fan of music, which is a big topic of conversation. I know that the Lord has a plan for each of us to prepare ourselves to return to live in His presence with our families. We must be willing to follow His plan for us. He does and will shower blessings upon us. Everything we have and are is a blessing. Thank you for the blessing you all are in my life. The Norwegian word of the week is flott, which means great.

Elder Ankenman

Monday, October 13th, 2014

I found out that I will be moving back north for the winter to Narvik. I am really going to miss this place and most of all the people here, but I know it is what is right. I will be serving with Elder Cooper who was in the district here a couple months ago. He is a really cool guy from Cedar City. Narvik has a very small branch and is not too big itself. I think it is well known for skiing and its railroad to Sweden. It is also really beautiful and has won the best water in Norway for many years. It will be nice to get away from the sun. I believe it is dark there almost all the time now! I know that it will be a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow and to help move this work forward. There are so many amazing people here. Thank you all so much for your wonderful examples. I love you all and know that the Lord is with us. The Norwegian word of the week is mørketid, which means dark time.

Elder Ankenman