Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Förstått God Jul!!

This sure was one memorable Christmas. It was one of those weeks where everything fell into place and by the end of the week you feel really, really blessed.
Christmas week kicked off on Monday night with this big refugee dinner that we hosted at the church. A member of the ward, who works a lot with refugee orphans, was in charge of the whole thing. It was very similar to the one we did in Boise. It made me realize how much I love young people. It was blast getting to know them and serve them, whether I could communicate with them or not. After the food there was a big limbo competition. I was the tallest by a good foot, but made it to the second to last round! Everybody got a kick out of big, tall, skinny Parkinson going under the beam haha.
We were in the homes of members for dinner every day after that. We got to spend Christmas eve with the Pedersen family, who are the parent to the stake president (I knew there fam pretty well in Drammen). Awesome traditional Norwegian dinner and it was cool talking to two of the coolest, most experienced members in Norway. On Christmas day we were with the legendary "missionary Grandma" named Else. She lives out on a farm and had all the missionaries over for a meal. Saturday we were with a newly wed couple. He is from Germany she is from Czek and they met each other in Norway and got married a couple weeks ago! Sunday, we were with the awesome Berg family! So cool to be with so many different people all celebrating the same hendelse.
Apart from being with some awesome members we found a lot of other cool things to do this week as a district. We went out on the streets with our umbrellas and sang a bunch of carols, ran around to bus drivers and gave them cookies (made by the sisters of course), and visited some less active members that had nobody to be with for Christmas. The week really taught me that the more you look outside of yourself and the more you look for opportunities to make somebody else have a great Christmas, the more meaningful Christmas will be for yourself.
Some awesome finding magic...ready for it??? Alright, so it was a rainy night in Bergen about a week ago. Nothing unusual yet. Elder Osguthorpe and I wanted to find a new investigator so we said a prayer, opened our umbrellas and walked out into the pouring rain. We were in this big open area and both ended up contacting two separate people. I contacted a 20 something year old woman from Poland that I ended up teaching for about 30 minutes! Elder O. talked to this 20 something year old guy from Norway that he ended up teaching for like 30 minutes. After those 30 minutes came to an end we came together and did an NFL bum touch celebration and were way excited! We ended up teaching both of them again this week and it went really well. It was cool to look back at the week and recognize that perfect timing and the fruits that came from it. 

More magic...on Tuesday this week I was on splits with Elder Crump and we found one of the coolest guys I've met on my mission. What made him so cool is that he was so easy to talk to! We started teaching him about the Book of Mormon and the restoration and he was feeling the power of the spirit. Out of nowhere he asked this soul piercing question: "How do you know this is true?" You could tell he was asking cause he really wanted to know. Man did it feel good to share my experience of reading the Book of Mormon and receiving an answer! I could feel the spirit giving me utterance and exactly what this young man needed to hear. Turns out this guys grandpa is a man named Åge who is a member and in charge of the maintenance of the church. You should of seen the smile on his face when I told him who we found. It was cool to feel that by the end of a 30 minute contact you were talking to a good friend, not just a random Norwegian that you met 30 minutes ago. To top things off this guy is a way good beat boxer and we started jamming out right there on the street to some "O Holy Night." :)
I enjoyed seeing you all on Friday! Looking good! Thanks for your love, prayers, and support!
Love, 
Eldste Parkinson 

Stavkirke near our apartment

View of Bergen

Monday, December 21, 2015

God Jul fra Bergen

God Jul!!

Christmas is just around the corner! It's odd being so wet and warm compared to Christmas last year. It hasn't snowed since I got here. 

The ward in Bergen is very musically talented. Every single Sunday they have a musical number and this Sunday was especially special. A couple opera performances during sacrament meeting and the primary put on a full scale broadway nativity performance during the Sunday School hour! 

On Thursday we flew over to Stavanger for a Zone Leader Training and a Christmas fireside. It was awesome to see President and Sister Hill once again  as well as the rest of the missionaries from the west zone. It was a very spiritual meeting and a good reminder to look outside of yourself during this season and serve others. As part of the fireside there was a talent show and the Bergen district threw together a pretty goofy musical number. Given the short notice preparation it turned out pretty nice and I think the audience got a kick out of it. I'll have to see if I can get a video of it over to you guys in some way or another. 

I think I told you that we are working with a less active/part member family from the Congo? Anyways, we had an awesome visit with them this week. We got there right as they were finishing up a big dinner get together. They invited us in and fed us TONS of food, the highlight being the fufu. Afterwards we got to teach J., his sister, wife, niece, and sister-in-law all at the same time! It's been awesome getting to know this family.

I've spent a lot of time this week studying the attributes of Christ. Both from Preach my Gospel and as I study in the New Testament. It seems like every attribute I study becomes really relevant during the day as I'm out. I've been especially trying to be patient the last couple days. I've got so much urgency for investigators/members to progress and keep commitments and there is nothing more frustrating then when they let you down, especially when they confirmed the appointment the night before, or as in one case, called to say they were on the way and changed their mind 15 minutes later. I was sitting in Priesthood on Sunday staring at my watch and the door in anticipation for our investigators to show up. As I was sitting there, stressing out, and unable to focus on the lesson I was reminded of what I had studied this week and I felt a calmness and a peace come over me. I had done what I could and things were in the Lord's hands and in His timing. It's good to be passionate and good to be saddened when disappointments come, but you cannot become discouraged and let it weaken your faith. That is the challenge of missionary work. 

There have been so many finding miracles this week! Work + the Spirit = success. I remember one day it was just pouring rain and super windy. Our appointment had fallen through and we had some time to street contact in the city. Given the weather I don't think either of us really wanted to do that...but, we did it! And 5 minutes later we were both split up standing under an awning and teaching two separate people a lesson. It's clear as the rain water in Bergen that if an appointment falls through there is somebody else that needs us. We made it a habit at the end of the day to count those miracles that came during the time periods in which appointments fell through. 

We're doing a big refugee dinner at the church tonight!  A similar kind of thing to the one we did in Boise so I'm way excited! I look forward to seeing you all on Friday! 

Love always, 
Eldste Parkinson 

Bergen District - minus photographer Elder Osguthorpe

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This week has been awesome!

Where to begin...this week has been awesome! Despite me arriving two weeks ago, transfers was actually this week. We got two new members in the district: Elder Steed and Sister Leland. Elder Steed was trained in Sandvika while I was there so I know him well and love him! He graduated with 30 other people in a small town in Southern Utah, so he's a hard working small town boy. 

This week has been special. We continue to be blessed with people to find and teach. OUr investigator from Swaziland came to church again this week and we've been able to teach him several times now. Such a humble guy. And get this...there is a member in the ward from Malawi who served his mission in...Swaziland! We brought him on a teach and they have already become friends! What are the odds of that??

We did a street stand during the week and had some good success. After a lot of prayers the weather cooperated for enough time to keep the Book of Mormon's dry. It is incredibly wet in Bergen, so much so that you can NEVER leave your apartment with out an umbrella or you will regret it. 

I'm so grateful for the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. I love in the Book of Mormon when Christ asks the disciples what their greatest desire is and they respond by saying that they desire the Holy Ghost. Preach my Gospel and the scriptures say a lot about the need to have the spirit with you and the effort that is required to "receive the Holy Ghost." One of the first things I learned in Norwegian was how to ask for the spirit: "Vi ber deg om at Den Hellige Ånd må være med oss idag." There haven't been very many prayers I've said on my mission in which that sentence hasn't come out in one way or another. I feel like at this point in my mission I say the sentence with a lot more sincerity and urgency, because I know that I NEED the spirit. There have been so many moments this week where I could literally feel the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost. So many moments where we "coincidentally" ran into investigators and members. For example, we called up this less active teenager one night and got an appointment with him! An hour later as we are getting off the bybane I see a guy staring at me and I go to talk to him and he turns out to be the same less active member I had just talked to on the phone! I know that as we live worthily and earnestly seek out the Holy Ghost in Our life we can always be where the Lord wants us to be! And there is nothing quite like that.

We are going caroling tonight! Should be fun! Nothing better than Christmas in Norway!

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson

The district and a few YSA members

Monday, December 7, 2015

All Coming Together

First full week in Bergen has come to an end and I love it here. 

Where to begin? We kicked off the Christmas initiative this week! It's extra exciting this year because we have it in Norwegian! Julen.mormon.org check it out. It's been cool to have a unique and special way to approach people wherever we are. For example: We take the Bybane (metro car thing) in and out of the city every day and have been using that as an opportunity to talk to people. All of us in the district here committed to opening our mouths each time we get on the bybane. There have been tons of miracles finding prepared people and sharing the christmas video with people on their Iphones. Sometimes you get shut down hard, but it's always worth it for those that are prepared. Elder O. had an awesome experience talking to a lady about the church and showing her the video. In the end, she grabbed his planner wrote down her number and yelled out her name as she ran off the bybane to make her stop.  

Just like Oslo, there are quite a few members on the list here. One of the first things I did when I got here was call the three less-actives on the list from Liberia. It was funny because we went to visit one of them earlier this week and he wasn't home. We gave him a call as we were leaving and he told us he was on the Bybane now and could meet at the church in 20 minutes! We ended teaching him and establishing an awesome relationship with him!! Turns out, like it always does, that he knows Benjamin's sister very well and that she works right next door to the church! The other two members were way down to meet. 

Our Norwegian investigator M. keeps making awesome progress! He's got a pretty cool story. Turns out he met missionaries over a year ago and didn't show up at the appointment he set with them. A year later, he found himself working at a grocery store right by the church and saw the missionaries walking by. Feeling bad for what had happened a year ago, he yelled out to them and said he wanted to learn more. A month later and he is eating up everything we teach him! Awesome guy. 

As a missionary in Norway we meet and teach people from all over the world. This week we found a man from a country most people have never heard of: Swaziland! We met up at a bybane stop and invited him to church. Pretty quick contact and didn't think much of it. Come Sunday, a lot of the investigators we had been counting on coming to church had bailed. I was sitting in the front bench with the young men waiting to pass the Sacrament and my brother from Swaziland strolled right in and sat down! That moment was priceless. Turns out he lives right by the church and he loved everything about it. Looking forward to teaching him!!

Another cool story. There is an inactive member on the list that we got a hold of from Congo that turns out to be a "B".  2.0. Baptized when he was 16 in Congo and almost served a mission. Ended up in Norway and lost contact with the church when he got to Bergen. We dropped by last night and taught him with his non member brother! Way cool sheep rescuing experience. We've got it set up to teach him and his non member wife each week! Families!!

I've been feeling such a high level of urgency lately. Urgency to find, teach, serve, lift, baptize people here in Bergen. All the missionary work dots seemed to be connected right now and I honestly have no other desire than to eat, sleep, and drink missionary work.

A cool scripture I liked this week from Alma 61: 9 And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.

Not sure quite what it means to be censured, but I think we all feel like we've been censured sometimes. Whether it's getting cut off while you are driving, getting "nei takk" on the street, or (in Pahoran's case) getting called out when you didn't do anything wrong. Getting offended drives the spirit away from your life/missionary work. Keeping a positive attitude keeps the spirit in you missionary work. This one is hard for me, but if you need the spirit to teach and find you can't afford to drive it away! 

Have a great week! Sorry, I have been horrible and sending snail mail/birthday notes/Christmas gift/anything. I'll repent when I get home, but know that I love you and am thinking of you! 

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson

Bergen is a beaut!




Monday, November 30, 2015

One more picture

My family in Norway

Bergen!

Dear Fam,

It's been a crazy week of goodbyes and hellos. I arrived here safe and sound in Bergen on Friday, but before I get there...

Monday we threw together a mission turkey bowl! We got Oslo, Drammen, and Sandvika districts together and it was awesome. A frozen field and a bunch of Americans made for a pretty good memory. It's funny cause I did the exact same thing a year ago when I was serving in Kongsberg! 

We were able to meet up with a lot of members and investigators before I left. It's made me realize how close I've come to a lot of the people in Sandvika. Tuesday was especially memorable. We had two teaches set up with investigators that we were going to be teaching for the second time. The two lessons were back to back and we felt strongly that we needed to commit both of them to Baptism. One of them was a 18 year old Norwegian/Canadian hockey player and the other was a 25ish year old woman from Liberia (Yes, she knows B!). Both teaches went as smooth as we could have imagined. We taught to needs, read with them from the book of Mormon, and when the spirit was strong we committed them both to be baptized on a specific date! And...they both said yes! It was an especially cool experience with the 18 year-old because as we were teaching him at a table in the library there was a group of teenagers sitting in the background goofing off and being inappropriate. It was such a clear contrast of two different lives and it was impressive to see a young person searching for truth and answers. 

On Wednesday we had dinner with the member from Minnesota! She's the one we've done a lot of service for (pulling out roots, etc.) and it was cool to visit her and eat some WILD RICE SOUP! Didn't realize how Minnesotan that stuff is. 

We had a thanksgiving meal on Thursday with the Hills and a bunch of other missionaries. Super koselig. That evening I said a final goodbye to B. and the fam! Ate another dinner with the whole fam, bore some testimony, sang "God be with you till we meet again." It was tear-jerking and tough to say goodbye, but it was cool to reflect on all the miracles that have happened the last several months since I found him on the street that one day. I don't know what I did or what he did to lead to all these events, but I KNOW that the Holy Ghost was involved and that I know that because I have experienced hat is described in D&C 50: 22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoiceth together.
And to add to the sweetness, I got a call this morning that after 3 months of searching they finally recovered Benjamin's membership record number! Let's just say I started running circles around the church when Rolfson gave me the call. 

And then Bergen happened! Friday morning I headed over and joined up with my new comp Elder Osguthorpe! We've got another two elders living in our apartment: Elder Bleggi and Elder Sanchez! All three have been out less than 3 transfers making me older than all of them combined! Young missionaries are the best missionaries to be around, though, so I am way excited to be with them! There are two other elders and two sisters in the district as well. I feel so much energy, excitement, and potential in this city!!

Other things about Bergen. Bergen is the city of rain. It's been raining non stop since I've been here and I've already broke an umbrella! The ward is pretty big and eclectic like Oslo. Excited to work with a lot of less actives and to find investigators on investigators!

We've got two way cool investigators that we are working with right now. M., an incredibly prepared young Norwegian that was recently found. He keeps every committment about 4 times and keeps saying "I just want to be a good Mormon!" And we've got this other cool guy from Uganda named S. He loves the message and loves to jam out to Nearer my God to Thee with me on the piano :)

I've never felt more passion and excitement towards missionary work than I do now! There is nothing more important, nothing more meaningful, and nothing more satisfying. 

Wi gon si next week! 

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson

Sandvika District

Lysfesten - They have a big Christmas tree lighting and firework show in Bergen!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Miracles and Surprises!

HEY Parkinson fam!

It's been an awesome week loaded with miracles and surprises. I'll hit you with the biggest surprise first...I'm moving to Bergen! The transfer doesn't end for another two weeks, but I'm going to be heading over there a few weeks early. I'm way excited!! I've been here over six months now and it's going to be weird serving in a different city with a diffrerent ward and different responsibilities. At the same time, though, I don't think there's any other way I'd rather finish my mission. I'll be serving in a way young district with a young companion (been out about 9 weeks) named Elder Osguthorpe! I'm way excited to go hard for the next 3 months out there! I'll be leaving on Friday. 

This week we had Zone Conferences! Tuesday we were in Stavanger, Wednesday in Trondheim, and Friday in Oslo. Fun to see all the missionaries, old companions, etc. All the meeting were awesome. We taught a section about using time wisely and raising our vision. We talked about the path of conversion and likened it to a flight of stairs. It's a hard path, but we've got the steps in Preach my Gospel and we've got members to help walk with them and give them a booster. The whole thing really helped me understand my purpose better as a missionary and to see the big picture of conversion instead of just focusing on the step of baptism. I can't really adequately explain myself sometimes haha but studying for and presenting this really got me passionate! 

Monday night we had dinner at B's house with his mom! I forgot to mention last week the reason that his mom was there in the first place. She was supposed to be taking a flight to Liberia the Friday before, but missed her flight! It was pretty devastating actually because she lost over 10,000 kroner on the flight. As a result she was staying with B. that week trying to put together money for a new ticket. It was powerful to hear some of their stories and experiences from the war. We said bye that night and left the next morning for the airport to travel to Stavanger! Thursday night we were driving over to visit B. and as I drive into the parking lot, I kid you not, I get a call from his mom who is at the airport waiting for her flight. She thanked us for everything and asked for the address to the church in Liberia and contact information for the Mission President, members etc. so that she could visit the church while she is there! It's interesting how you can't put a price tag on the joy that comes from the restored gospel. 10,000+ kroner hurts, but there is nothing so "exquisite and sweet" as the joy she felt and I felt on the phone that night. 

We had another sheep rescuing experience this week. This one goes way back to the beginning of the mission. Do you remember R.? R. was the first man I taught a lesson to in Norway. I remember it like it was yesterday; teaching him the restoration and inviting him to be baptized while sitting in the Tromsø church. Several months after that (a little after I left) Rogers was baptized. Although, not to long after that he fell away and nobody knew what happened to him. While in Trondheim for zone conference the sisters let me know that they got a hold of R. and said that he is living in Oslo and mentioned my name! I gave him a call and was able to meet with him on Saturday with a couple Oslo missionaries. Man, and that reunion as he walked off the Tbane at National Theatret was Epic! We taught him, the spirit testified, and he was excited to be reunited with the church. Definitely a moment I won't forget. 

We found some other awesome people this week. We started teaching this man from Croatia that we found on the streets a couple weeks ago. He just came to Norway and is trying to get on his feet, but loves everything about the church! We walked to church with him and he had a great time. There was another young Norwegian/Canadian that we started teaching this week as well! He's a big hockey player and has a had a really unusual life for a Norwegian 18 year-old. As he prayed at the end you could feel his sincerity and desire to receive a confirmation from the Holy Ghost. 

Thanksgiving is this week! We had a ward dinner after church to celebrate. I got to stand up and talk a little about what thanksgiving is and what our family would do to celebrate. Although most of the focus was on food it was a good reminder of the real meaning of thanksgiving: showing gratitude. It brought back memories of going around the big table and saying things we are grateful for. That simple exercise is such a good tool for changing attitude and softening the heart. Our croatian investigator can fit all of his things in one duffel bag and yet he is still a more grateful man than I am. 

I know God blesses us when we do all that we can. I saw time and time again miracles and tender mercies that were direct results of going hard until 9:00. Sometimes you meet hurdles, sometimes it's freezing outside and you forgot your gloves, but it is always worth the pain to find the one. It's hard because we always have to show our faith first. All we see is the hurdles at first. But God says, "Prove me herewith!" He is ready to bless us!

I hope you all have a great week! 

Love,
Eldste Parkinson 




Monday, November 16, 2015

Lost Sheep Round 2

This week buzzed right by. First things first, a big shout out coming to David with the birthday this week!! 16 years young. Make it a good one!

Dear Family,

It has been an interesting week. We went up to Trondheim on Tuesday to work with Elders Corrigan and Phipps. It was a blast. A lot of awesome experiences finding prepared people. Trondheim is a cool city with tons of students from all over Norway. We focused a lot on extending bold and concise commitments. I've noticed that by committing with yes/no questions it forces people to actually commit to something instead of being wishy washy. People really struggle with committing to something that is different or foreign and helping them say "Yes" is so much better than "I'll check my schedule." It's kind of like when i say yes when someone asks me if I am going to finish my food. Any one of my companions knows that I won't leave till it's all gone :)

We have been spending time getting ready for Zone Conferences next week! We haven't really had a real zone conference for a long time. Elder Johnson visited, President Hill arrived, President Evans left, etc. A lot of "special event" meetings. It's going to be awesome to have a spiritual pump up and an opportunity to get united as a mission. 

Alright, so the miracle of the week goes once again to B. This story just keeps evolving and getting more and more awesome. First miracle event. I don't know if I mentioned this already, but B. has another daughter back in Africa and he has started telling her about the church. The other day he told us "I need the number of the mission president down there. She needs to be baptized!" So we got him some contact info and his daughter may be getting taught soon. We've been on a treasure hunt trying to get his membership information. He has a lot of different names which makes it hard. Miracle number 2: His mom is in town! She lives up in Harstad and was supposed to be taking a plane back to Liberia to visit family but missed the flight! Super sad, but as a result she is going to be at B's house until Wednesday! Turns out his mom was baptized with him back in Sierra - Leone! She was a primary teacher and started singing all the songs with us. "I am a child of God," "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam." She told us her point of view of their fleeing from war, building the church, and being forced to flee again 4 years after joining the church. I couldn't help but think of the early saints of the church being forced to flee from the temple they had just built in Kirtland. I told her to write a story about her life so I could read it :) She is making us dinner tonight and we're going to try to get her membership info over to Norway and then convince her to move down south. I've even adopted the family last name and they call me "Parkinkoon" now haha. Love that family and love finding lost sheep. 

That's it for the week! Sorry it's short. After a mild fall it's starting to get cold. Time to start bundling up :)

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson 

Some of the Saturday sport gang. I think it hit 0 degrees :)


Stake  Conference in Romerike -- Where's Waldo?

Monday, November 9, 2015

DEEP ROOTS!

HEY FAM!

It's been a great week! The weather has gotten pretty nice and I keep forgetting I am in Norway. I don't know if it was the Minnesota in me, but I was in shorts and a tee-shirt playing fotball on Saturday!

We have introduced a new key indicator into the mission called "gospel conversations" as a way to encourage us to open our mouths. A gospel conversation is basically any time you teach a principle of the gospel, share testimony, and invite to act. It's something that is achievable anywhere we are and can be done in a very short period of time! Elder Rolfson and I have been having fun with it and it's been a great way to stay accountable for how we are using our time. 

I taught a guy in French this week! He speaks no english and no Norsk so it was cool to be of use. We had a quick gospel conversation earlier in the week and then we taught him on Saturday. It was a bit rough, but the spirit definitely helped! 

We had a couple investigators that we taught this week that are really struggling to read the Book of Mormon. They love to be taught, they love to hear about things we believe in, but they won't open the Book of Mormon and read it. Rather, they both decided to read "about" the Book of Mormon from various sources on the internet. And then, of course, that leads to misunderstanding and confusion. It's interesting this "information age" that we live in. There is SO much available to us on the internet, which is an incredible resource and benefit in so many ways, But at the same time, googling Book of Mormon will probably give you more information about South Park and musicals than what is actually about: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have been trying to focus lately on having quality personal studies. I've been thinking lately about how my mission has taught me tons about "living" and "sharing" the gospel. I feel like half of my letters I am talking about how much of a joy it is to serve others and live God's commandments. However, I think sometimes I overlook the principle of "learning." That is, our personal understanding of the Gospel through study. I've never loved the sound of the term "deep doctrine," but it is so important that we have a deep understanding of the doctrine. Deep roots, so that when winds, hail and storms beat upon you it will have no power over you. Lately I've been going slowly and deeply through Chapter 3 of Preach my Gospel where all the doctrines that we teach are. This week was the plan of Salvation and I read this boss talk from Elder Christofferson called "Moral Agency." So good. 

I'm trying to make it so my personal study is quality each and every day. It's interesting looking back on my personal studies from before the mission and it's evident that it was more about obedience than learning. Dad, for some reason I've had the image this week of you sitting at the kitchen table studying your scriptures and eating you oatmeal as I frantically tried to get ready for Seminary in 5 minutes or less (usually forgetting a trumpet, a basketball bag, or a school assignmnent in the process). Every single morning I saw that. It's cool to recognize your love for learning and it's no wonder your roots are so deep. 

I've building up my tolerance to hot food lately. Everything B. makes has Habaneros in it, even his spaghetti and scrambled eggs. It's so good, though! And I've gone down from like 10 glasses of water a meal to about 2. My latest favorite recipes are "Pepper soup," "spinach," and "okra." There was this other kind of powdery peanutty stuff that you eat like cookie dough and then it expands in your stomach when you drink water. Not sure what it's called, but I've started packing it for when we are out and don't get breakfast/lunch. Apparently they ate it all the time during the war. We were over there on my birthday and they sang an epic rendition of "Happy Birthday." Love 'em!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes! Erik, I hope you had an awesome 20th as well! 

Love,
Eldste Parkinson

Out with the old...

In with the new!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Worth of Souls

WOW it's been a crazy one. It seemed like this week marked the end of an era in the mission. Over the last 4 transfers we've said goodbye to 3 very large groups of elders (a few extended). Most all of these elders graduated High School the same year as me, so I've seen them all as some of my best friends/peers in the mission. After each transfer there's always been another group getting ready to go home so it was weird for that pattern to come to an end. Even weirder is that my last two companions were among these groups! Those two guys really enriched these these last 6 months here in Sandvika and we went through a lot together. President Hill often describes love as "what you have been through together" and that totally rings home for me. I love my companions!

Having a missionary companion is a unique experience. All day every day, 24/7, you are with the same person except for when you are on the toilet or in the shower. It's evident to me that my love and appreciation for the opportunity to serve with all these companions has grown so much over the course of my mission. I think it's helped that I've started to appreciate companions as souls in the same way that we are trained to look at investigators/members as souls. As missionaries we're out laboring day after day to bring souls to Christ and I think sometimes we can be guilty of only focusing on the souls that have been baptized over the last year, when really there are 90 other souls serving a mission in Norway and 10-15 that you will get to serve with as a companion. I've learned so much from the examples of and experiences with other missionaries.

 "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10).

In Priesthood meeting yesterday we were talking about self-reliance and welfare in the church. Benjamin raised his hand and told about his experience back in Sierra Leone when he first found the church. In the beginning they would meet under a tarp out in the Jungle every Sunday for meetings! Eventually, they received supplies from the church to start building an actual church building. It was cool as he described the balance of the church providing means and resources while also teaching the principles of hard work and self-reliance as they were taught how to build cement blocks, etc. In time, they also received boxes of church clothing and food from Utah and he described the joy when he received a pair of dress shoes that he could wear to church. It made grateful for the emphasis the church puts on helping those in need and gets me passionate about dedicating my life to service and humanitarian work.

Other things this week...3 new missionaries arrived! They all arrived in one group and things went pretty smoothly with moves. It's nice having another companion that can drive now and it enables me to co pilot to the airport as Rolfson gets familiar with the area. He's a stud by the way. He's big, athletic, spiritual and loves getting PASSIONATE about missionary work. Mmmmmm

It was pretty tear jerking visiting Benjamin and Fam for the last time before Elder Allen left. It was exactly 12 weeks ago (The Saturday after Allen arrived) that we found him. Their family has been the highlight and joy of those 2 transfers. We went over and surprised them with a song we wrote the night before to the tune of "Hallelujah." They left their piano at a friend's in Oslo, but Rolfson was on the guitar and Benjamin was on the drums! It was epic! At the end we all improvised by singing the chorus "Going to UTAH....Going to Utah...Going to Utah." It was memorable. The first recording didn't work, but Watta got half of it on the re-run (singing was pretty off in that one haha) but I'll try to get it to you.  

That's about it. I love you all back home! I'm hitting the big 20 this week. Never going to forget this last year. Being 19. Being a missionary. I'm holding on to every last day!

Love,
Eldste Parkinson 

Chocolate factory tour for pday


Happy to be a missionary!  - made some chocolate at the factory

Our legendary district:
Parkinson, Allen, Brink, Steed, Ulrich Firth


Monday, October 26, 2015

The gospel blesses families

Moves call was on Sunday! Elder Allen is headed back to Salt Lake and I'll be getting Elder Rolfson as my new comp! He's from Colorado and I already know him quite well so I'm way excited!! It's been pretty bittersweet with the transfer ending and reflecting on the last 12 weeks Elder Allen and I have had together. There have been tons of awesome people that we have become really close too. 

Sunday was awesome. I kept joking with Elder Allen that he must have been really obedient his whole mission because the Lord really blessed us with a special and memorable day. A true tender mercy. We had three awesome investigators that came to church, but the biggest surprise was B. showing up with his two boys. W. had to sleep following a night shift so B. was pretty unsure on whether he would be able to make. He said he would try and "by the Grace of God he would be there," which on my misssion has become a pretty flaky phrase haha. We were sittting in a packed combined priesthood meeting and B. strolled right in with his typical fly suit and tie. To add some icing to the cake the two boys were there in their own suits and took part in the Primary Program! It was touching to see those two smiley boys up on the stand and to imagine them in 10 years serving a mission. 

With Allen and some other missionaries in the ward leaving the ward showed a bunch of love and appreciation. I felt like a hundred bucks and I wasn't even leaving so I'm sure the rest of them must of felt the same. 

Ever since the office moved, it has been tough for us to find time/somewhere to eat dinner. We had gotten a dinner appointment for right after church on Sunday, which got us way excited!. While at church we got three more appointments for that day to go visit some members and say bye. To our surprise, every one of these appointments decided to include dinner as part of the appointment! And I am talking dinner with dessert. I feel like I've heard other missionaries tell these kind of experiences to me, especially from South America and the States, so It was weird to be experiencing it first hand. 4 dinners later and I almost needed a wheelchair to leave the last appointment. So much love from the members in this ward!!

It's been clear and obvious to me that the church has been putting a renewed focus on the importance of protecting the family unit. The primary program and other recent events have caused me to think a lot about the importance of family institution. It's been disturbing to me to think about the amount of immorality in the world and the negative influences that exist. So many sources of addiction and so many bad influences that can destroy the relationship between husband and wife and between parent and child. I'm so used to telling people that we came to earth to receive a body and experience, but we also come to be a part of a family unit. A unit that is there to teach the Gospel and the commandments! Our aging and beloved prophet gave the most simple clear message at General Conference: Keep the Commandments! As a member of the church it often feels like you are one against 100 in standards and values. I love this quote from preach my Gospel "only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family." We need the gospel and the world needs us to live it. Grateful for my family and for your support and example! 

We had an awesome splits in Kristiansand this week! Saw some way cool miracles and got to commit this golden Norwegian investigator to baptism! 

We've got three new elders coming this week! I love this work!

Love,
Eldste Parkinson 

Lil' B and Lil' D.

The H. family  :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Soul Delighteth in Plainness

This week flew by. We are headed into week 6 of the transfer! It's crazy to think I have been in this area for about 6 months now. I have really come to love the ward here and all the wonderful people that I have met.  

The weather is starting to cool down and the darkness is coming. At the same time, all the leaves are changing color and everything is way beautiful! Being here reminds me of the weather back in Minnesota. 

There is a family in the ward that we visit every Sunday! Two awesome convert parents and 5 kids! The oldest boy just turned 16 and we are starting to take him out with us every Sunday after dinner! We had a really cool experience yesterday taking him on a teach where we taught the Plan of Salvation. Not only is this awesome preparation for a mission, but it's also awesome for the people we teach to see the effects the gospel can have on a young persons life. He talked about how he bikes to seminary every morning before school and is starting to save money to serve a full time mission. It was lifting for me to see such a young dedicated member of the church and the direction and meaning he has found in his life by living the gospel. David, get out with the missionaries! :)

The wan got some good use this week. We were in Sandefjord earlier in the week closing an apartment and getting furniture and garbage transferred by wan to the dump. that same day we helped a member back in Sandvika to take their stuff to the dump. We also moved some mattresses to Drammen and helped Benjamin transport some more furniture. We have clocked quite the distance on the wan!  It's going to be weird to drive a normal size car when i get back to the states.

We had success with finding this week and got some awesome new investigators in the teaching pool. One of them was this lady that we found on the street from Liberia (turns out she is best friends with B.'s sisters). It was a powerful first teach. We put a lot of focus on the Book of Mormon and testified of it's truthfulness. When we asked what it could mean to her if the Book of Mormon is true she said, "It would mean everything! I love the Bible, but it would be so nice to have something new and pure and clear." I though immediately of this verse in 2 Nephi 31 which says: 

 3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

I loved studying a talk from this past General Conference from Elder Schwitzer called Let the clarion Trumpet Sound that talked more about the ideas in this scripture. he quoted a scripture saying, "for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" There are so many uncertain sounds in the world that lead to confusion and unsurety whereas the Book of Mormon offers a simple message that is clear and that resonates!

Scripture of the week: "This people draw nigh unto with their mouth, and honereth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Matthew 15:8). Don't just tell someone you love them. Show them you love them. Feed His sheep.

We are headed off to Kristiansand later today! Looking forward to a great week! 

Love, 

Eldste Parkinson

Newly ordained priest AKA future missionary!

Here is B's African spinach. Way good, but way hot! Elder Allen and I had a huge water pitcher between the two of us and we were pounding water beacause it was so hot! I must of had 10 glasses of water. And water and African Palm oil don't mix well in the stomach...

Monday, October 12, 2015

the Lord always provides

It has been a great week here in Sandvika and I feel like I'm still on a spiritual high from General Conference. I finally got to listen to the last session on Tuesday in the car on the way to and from the airport. There were so many inspiring talks in that session. I loved the concept of ponderizing from Bishop Durrant's talk and have already started doing that. This weeks scripture is Matthew 6:24 which says, 
 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hatethe one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

I love the idea of using the scriptures in such a simple and focused way! Think of how much you can learn from ponderizing a scripture each week and especially how easy it can become to make the scriptures a part of what we do and think about. 


We had the opportunity to watch the movie "Freetown" with B. and his family this week. It's movie that recently came out about 6 missionaries fleeing from the rebels and war torn Liberia to safety in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1989. It was special to B. and W. because they both experienced making that same journey as 8/10 year old kids. It was very real for them. It was even more special because Freetown is where B. was baptized. And get this! As the movie began W. pointed to one of the missionaries and screamed, "that is my cousin! That is my cousin!!" Turns out the actor of one of the lead missionaries in the movie is her cousin that she grew up with in Freetown! It was cool to share that moment with her and the family. The message of the movie was really powerful and touching for me; 6 missionaries with so much faith and such a strong desire to preach the gospel. The saints in Africa are modern day pioneers. If you haven't yet, go watch that movie!

We were blessed with some awesome surprises on Sunday with quite a few investigators coming to church. The biggest surprise was a man you may remember from before named N. We had stopped teaching him a while back and he moved back to Portugal. On Sunday, out of nowhere, he showed up to church! Apparently he came back to Norway 3 days ago and the church was the first place he wanted to go! 

In continuing the theme of the Freetown movie I've been thinking a lot this week about how the Lord always provides when we have faith in Him and as we earnestly strive to do our part. When things our tough and I feel myself questioning why things happened the way they did I've been trying to ask myself the question, "have you done all that you can do?" I've noticed that as I focus on staying humble and doing my best to work hard and follow the spirit, the blessings and miracles just seem to fall into place. Disappointment seems to naturally cause you to turn inwards and turning inwards always leads to stagnation. As we constantly look to Christ we will naturally look forward to the future with faith in spite of what has happened in the past!

Have a great week!! 

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The True and Living Church

Happy Birthday, Dad!! I thought of you while I was watching conference! Thanks for your devotion to our family and the Gospel!

This week reminded me of how much, and how indescribable, the joy is that comes from the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. And there is NOTHING better than dedicating all your time and talents to spreading that joy and hopeful message with other people.

I want to share a cool experience we had Monday night, which just like last week, served as a springboard for the rest of the week. It was 8 o'clock Monday night (again) and we were heading back from a members home to go contacting in the city with the other elders until the end. I was working with Elder Steed, an awesome young missionary from a tiny town in Utah. We were going hard, talking to everybody, being passionate and not really seeing any results. It was a little before 9 and time to go home, but the other elders were on the bench teaching somebody, so we kept going! We end up stopping this 25ish year old Norsk guy with headphones in and a hat on backwards. He tells us to wait a second while he ends his phone call and hands us his hat while we were waiting. And guess whose logo was on the hat?? BYU COUGARS. Turns out he went on a trip for school and ended up in Utah at some point. He's been wearing the hat for the last 3 years and can't wait to learn more about the church. 

I found a way to play some more basketball this week as well! There is this philipino guy that we found last week and started teaching. He invited us to the rec center and we played with all his philipino friends! I was way taller than everybody haha, It was blast and we've got several of them we are hoping to start teaching soon!

A missionary motto I really like is to always have your line in the water. On Friday, I was on splits with Elder Jacobs and we were helping a part member family in the ward move. One of the professional movers there immediately caught my eye because of how much he was smiling. Over the next couple hours I talked to him quite a bit about a lot of random things including the church. As we were leaving I went to say bye to him and he said, "Where is your church? I would love to learn more!" No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can always find people to teach. We referred him over to Oslo to be taught by the elders there. 

We visited B. and W. quite a bit this week and were able to teach about the plan of Salvation. We felt impressed to focus the whole lesson on the Spirit World and shared some scriptures from the bible and taught that doctrine. She was blown away. It's such a beautiful and logical truth. It all ties back to the first principle we teach people: "God is our Loving Heavenly Father." His plan is a plan of love and hope. It's not just for people born into Christian families or born into our church, but it is for every single human being that ever was or will be. As we work to prepare for the second coming here on earth, the same is happening on the other side of the veil! Everybody receives their fair chance to accept the gospel and its ordinances in their fullness. When we asked W. what it would mean if this was true she said, "I would shout from the rooftops!"

Conference was awesome! The Priesthood meeting may have been my favorite. Especially the talks by Anderson and Eyring. So much good that comes out of those talks. I know this is the "true and living church." True because the doctrine is pure and living because God is at the helm and directs a living prophet and 12 apostles. We need His church, we need His leaders, and we need each other. 

Have a great week!
Love, 
Eldste Parkinson 

B. at Priesthood session!  So fly!

Monday, September 28, 2015

This week...

Dear Fam,

It has been an awesome week! With all the stuff that has been going on, it was nice to have the whole week in our own area and we were blessed with a lot of new people to start teaching!

The weather has gotten really nice the last couple days and we had a great turnout for football on Saturday! A bunch of members and a few non member friends came out. Benjamin and Michael both came as well and it was way intense! I even managed this pretty sick header goal off a corner kick that belonged on Sportscenter top 10.  

I think I mentioned that we found this awesome young Norwegian guy last week that we have started teaching, and we were able to meet with him again this past week. He is the easiest guy to teach because he asks such good questions and thinks and ponders about everything we tell him. He was asking a lot of questions about the Plan of Salvation and we talked a lot about how the plan is like a 3 part play (I think it was Packer who said that?). We all showed up for the second act of the play and cannot remember anything from before. Yet, we have faith that this is not the last act; there is something more. To be honest, when you look at the world as a one act play a lot of things don't really make sense. The suffering, the pain, why things happen. Knowing that there is a 3rd act doesn't necessarily give me all the "why's," but I think once we get to act three we will be able to look back and recognize that "all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things."

I am so excited for General Conference! This is going to be my last one in Norway (at least as a missionary :) and that is a weird feeling! I have spent a lot of time reviewing the talks from last conference and trying to get prepared for this weekend. I think I have mentioned in the past how much more I have come to appreciate General Conference since I have been in Norway. It's almost like a spiritual Thanksgiving. I feel this thirst after to hear the word of the Apostles and prophets. 

It's like the verse in John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

One last cool finding story. It was Monday night at about 8 o'clock. We had visited a guy that wasn't home and banked some doors with out much success. We were both feeling a little fatigued and thinking about heading back to make some phone calls, but decided against it and headed into Asker sentrum giving us about thirty minuted to street contact with out many people on the streets. Right after praying and getting out of the car we saw two men standing about 20 meters apart from each other. We split up and contacted the two guys and got two separate 30 minute teaches. I talked to this awesome Norwegian business man. Our conversation began as small talk as he told me about his daughter being married this week and showed me pictures on his phone. I eventually pulled out a pamphlet and taught him about the restoration and he was blown away by it! Elder Allen had a similarly cool experience with a young Norwegian college student. The biggest lesson that I learned from that was the power those kind of experiences have and the burning energy that comes as a result! That experience set the tone for our whole week. 

Thanks for the love and support! I hope you have a great week!

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson

District picture!!

The wonderful Crabtrees, who served in Tromsø, have finished their mission!

From our hike today.

Norway is beautiful!!

The Parkinson pose


Monday, September 21, 2015

Turnover

The mission has been officially turned over! 14 new elders came into the mission on Wednesday, this time only in two groups...haha so despite not being as much drama as last time it was still pretty messy. 5 of the missionaries missed their connection in England and came several hours after the first group. There was also a bunch of luggage that was lost and didn't come until the day after, but in the end everything worked out! It's exciting to have so many new faces in the mission right now and I am looking forward to seeing the mission grow and change. One cool small world story. There is a new elder named Elder Stephens that just arrived and I found out he is a twin! And Guess where his twin is headed?! The Hungary, Budapest Mission! Erik, look out for a Stephens Elder coming to Hungary in a couple weeks! What are the odds of that?

Things have been going well here. We have been making slow steady progress with a lot of our investigators and have found some new people as well. On Saturday we were able to teach an awesome young Norwegian about God and developing a faith. A way sincere, humble guy that wanted so bad to have spiritual experiences. 

It has been raining hard this week!! Thursday was especially bad. We took the 3 missionaries to the airport early that morning and the wan's water capabilities were tested. but pulled through in the clutch. It at times seemed like we were cruising down the Nile river in a boat as huge tidal waves would nail us from the cars going the other way. Now we know why everything in Norway is so green! Pretty soon it will be snow :)

Another cool miracle that was more temporal than spiritual happened today. We rent out the basement right below this awesome part member family. We were over there last night sharing a message and we got talking about food in America and I happened to mention how much I miss Chipotle. Next thing I know I have an address to this place in Oslo that they had found that is supposedly really similar to Chipotle. We checked it out today for Lunch and it was so good! The manager is Australian and was asking us for tips on how to make it more like Chipotle since we are Americans. It's called El Cantino and I will definitely be returning! :)

This week I was thinking a lot about the importance of constant spiritual nourishment. I recently read a talk from elder Ballard that I think was given as an address to a bunch of stakes in Utah. Since I studied at BYU I gave myself permission to read it. He gave this awesome analogy in which he talked about A large and healthy sequoia tree that died out of nowhere on the BYU campus. What was the cause? The feeding roots died because the tree was accidently cut off from it's water source. It shows how although this tree looked perfectly normal, healthy and strong on the outside, it was really dying on the inside. We too need to be careful to insure that we are receiving constant spiritual nourishment in our lives, even when things are going well and we feel that maybe we can manage with out it. It was a great opportunity for me to recommit myself to my own personal conversion and my own personal study of the Gospel. When our roots are strong and healthy we will be better able to lift and support those that are struggling and in need.

I am starting my 4th transfer here in Sandvika, making this officially my longest area! LEGGO!

Love, 
Eldste Parkinson 

3 missionaries going home

Found my burrito!

Carrying a wan seat

Monday, September 14, 2015

4th Quarter Miracles

Another transfer in the books! Elder Allen and I will be staying together for another transfer here in Sandvika! Looking back on everything it has been quite the eventful/memorable transfer. We had the craziness of the 14 elders arriving, the moving of the office, the visit from Elder Johnson, finding B. and his family, etc. A lot of unique experiences that I know I will remember long beyond the mission. So grateful!!

This week was a week of traveling. We went on splits 3 times this past week and got to work with a bunch of awesome missionaries in a bunch of cool areas! On Monday I switched places with a missionary up in Oslo for the evening of prostelyting and had a blast! We found some cool people and it was cool to spend the night in the same apartment that I lived in for 4 months. On Tuesday we headed up to Narvik, which is a small town way up north (not to far away from Tromsø). It was my first time being north of Trondheim since I left Tromsø and it was awesome to be back! The area is small enough that they have to walk long distances to get to places that haven't been banked already or to try back/visit people they are teaching. And by long walk I mean 1.5 hours each way with not much in between (there are no buses and biking isn't safe with the snow).  It was good reminder to me of the sacrifice and hard work that can be required in missionary work and I was lifted from being able to work with such dedicated missionaries. 

Thursday, we headed up to Trondheim and worked with Elders Corrigan and Arnold for a day. We had some cool finding experiences that followed the typical format: not much success in the beginning and an outpouring of blessings at the end. "4th quarter miracles" (Which, according to what I've heard, describes the way BYU has been playing lately :). At the end of night I went to dinner at a member's house who just happened to be Elder Årsnes' brother!! It was way awesome to talk to him and we ended up teaching his friend that he referred after dinner!

Come Saturday, we were finally back in our own area and had quite the eventful day that seemed to be characterized by changing our clothes in the car. We went to sport in afternoon and then we had to go straight to a 8 year old baptism in the ward (car change number 1). Right after the baptism we headed to the Minnesota member's home to dig up some more roots in her yard for about an hour (Car change number 2). Then, we booked it to an appointment with a potential investigator that we had found earlier in the week and taught an awesome Norwegian couple (change number 3). To end the day we visited B. and the fam and ate some of his delicious food, while having a good conversation about how we can best help them. It was a busy high paced day and I'm pretty sure we didn't smell very good by the end of the day, but it was quite the fulfilling feeling to have the opportunity to serve so many different people in so many different ways.

I've been reading a lot in the Doctrine and Covenants this week and especially loved chapter 10 about the Lord's wisdom being "greater than the cunning of the devil."God's great plan and ways of accomplishing his goals is something that can be so hard to comprehend from our limited perspective and experience. But, we do have the opportunity throughout this life to see this principle as we experience trials, difficulties, and mistakes that turn into blessings as we keep pushing forward and relying on Him. It's our faith in Christ that allows for us to continue forward with out seeing and understanding the whole picture.  In Mosiah 4 it says, "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has allwisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."

Thanks for your support and prayers! Make it a great week!

Love,
Eldste Parkinson 

Narvik. Can't capture the beauty on camera

On the streets of Narvik

Narvik Splits!! Elder Kemp and Elder Bjornn

The airport in Narvik is smaller than a gas station...I think 2 tiny planes come each day :)

From our hike today -- Karate Kid

Companion Love