Monday, March 30, 2015

On to the Next One

Hey fam!

We got dumped on by snow earlier this week, which was quite surprising. Public transportation had a tough time responding to that. It seemed like we spent most of Thursday pushing/lifting smart cars out of the snow. But, the snow has disappeared almost as fast as it came, so we'll see how much more winter Norway's got. 

Yesterday was moves call and there was some big news. I am headed from Oslo and will be going back to the Drammen ward!! It was a big and exciting surprise. I will be serving right in Drammen instead of in Kongsberg and will be with a very experienced missionary named Elder Shanklin! As exciting as it is, I'm going to miss this ward, the city, the missionaries, everything. It's been a special three transfers here. I realized that I have served in every area of my mission the exact same amount of time, which has been just right for me. There was a baptism yesterday for an awesome man named D. who I had the opportunity to interview. He comes from Croatia and has been largely taught through skype. It was an awesome baptismal service with 4 different languages being used: English, Norwegian, Russian, and Croatian (thanks to skype and some Russian speaking members in our ward). It was a unique and powerful experience and to add to it, one of the several investigators that was present at the baptism decided that she wanted to be baptized next Saturday! After a long period of hard work, emotions, and patience, D. seems to have gotten the rock rolling here in Oslo that is quickly picking up momentum!! 

A few weeks ago I mentioned a cool experience finding a family on the trikk on the way to Church. We were able to start teaching them this week and it was an awesome experience! They were asking the kind of truth seeking questions that you love to hear as a missionary! How can I recognize an answer from God? How do I pray? These kind of simple questions are the ones that show real intent! 

Being the last week of the transfer, we put a big focus on finishing the conquer the list initiative! It was cool to get that done and to reflect on all the miracles that we had and members that have started to come back because of it. Saving sheep is at least as important as finding them. I feel like the Oslo ward list has kind of been this monster in the closet that gives everyone nightmares. Slaying the monster helped us as missionaries, but perhaps most importantly strengthened our relationship and trust with the ward. 

One thing I have gotten passionate about lately is using analogies as we teach. I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of simplicity and teaching for understanding. That's exactly what Christ did when he taught. I always knew that the church had a weird vocabulary that can be hard to understand. But even more commonly used words like prayer, God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, baptism can be hard to really understand given all the mixed ideas out there. I'm grateful that my loving Heavenly Father restored these simple and practical truths so that we can use and share them with others. The restoration isn't just about truths that other churches don't have, it's also clarifying those simple doctrines that everyone misunderstands. It's these simple truths that are the foundation of my testimony and what I can always turn to when doubt or opposition comes. 

Anyways, have a great week! I'm glad you had a great trip to NYC. I love and miss that place and am reminded about it everyday by all the NY Yankees hats I see in Norway (despite the fact that nobody knows who the NY Yankees are !). General Conference next week! I'll be watching in the same chapel as last time! And if there is General Conference there must be the final Four! No idea what's going on, but I'll take whatever Big Ten team is left! 

Eldste Parkinson

Last day playing ball!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015



I shouldn't have commented on the beautiful weather last week because it jinxed us with some snow yesterday. Weather in Norway is kind of like climbing a mountain. You always think you are at the top (think that winter is over) and then you realize it's just a false summit!

We had some awesome meetings this week with the highlight being a zone conference that we had on Thursday! We talked a lot about the importance of having courage as a missionary. That is one trait that I think I lacked before my mission. I remember how hard it was for me as a kid to tell other people that I was a "Mormon" and that I went to church every Sunday. For one reason or another I didn't like being different from everyone else and feared what others would think about me. I remember back in Minnesota after church running from our garage  to our house trying to avoid being seen in my shirt and tie by my neighbor friends. Looking back, and seeing where I am now, I think that one of the most valuable things my mission has given me is self-confidence, or courage. The courage to stand alone. The courage to bear your testimony. The courage to act on a prompting from the Holy Ghost. 

A. has made awesome transition in Poland. We have skyped him several times and he loved the church there! Every lesson with him is full of spiritual moments I will never forget. He told us that he could read the Book of Mormon 7 times and he would probably still not understand a lot of things in his head. But then, he patted his chest and explained to us how the most important thing is that we receive a confirmation in our heart. 

We have an investigator right now that loves playing pool with us! He is way good, too. I think I might move to Vegas when I get back! 

Things have been going really well here in Oslo, though. I had the opportunity to give a couple of baptismal interviews this past week which was a really cool experience. One of them I had to do over skype because of a language barrier. It makes me so grateful for the technology that we have and for the possibilities it gives in missionary work.

We continue to play basketball every Saturday! i bought a cheap Shaq jersey at a second hand store that I've been wearing when we play. Last Saturday we played with a bunch of people from the Philippines and I really did feel like Shaq. 

Not much else to say this week! Love you all! 

Eldste Parkinson

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fra Norge til Polen

Time seems to be flying right by here in Oslo! The weather has been beautiful all week and I think winter may be finished early for the year! It's kind of funny because all the Norwegians are embarrassed by how lame this winter was. Not very cold, not much snow, etc. Counting down the days til General Conference when we get to take our suit coats off! 

We met with A. quite a few times this week and he has been doing incredible! It is so cool to watch the spirit teach him each and every lesson. I look forward to our lessons with him, because I feel like he teaches me more than I teach him! On Saturday he headed back to Poland for a few week vacation, but we will be trying to keep contact with him via skype, email, phone. We also got in touch with the Polish missionaries so they could meet with him in Poland and I was shocked to find out that the missionary serving in A.'s area is originally from Drammen, Norway! I knew his family when I was serving in Kongsberg so it was a way cool connection and showed me how much God is watching out for him. It was funny to speak norwegian on the phone to another missionary serving in Poland. Not sure why, but it really strengthened my testimony of this work and got me pumped!! Flooding the earth. 

Another cool connection this week. On Monday we ate dinner with at a member's house with several other members. K is from Taiwan, teaches the investigator class and assisted us in making our own sushi! It was way good! On Sunday during Sunday School he mentioned that he posted a picture from Monday night on Facebook and Stephen Patterson commented on the photo! Apparently they were in the same choir at BYU. Small world, eh?

The Saturday night activities have been going great! Last Saturday we watched the movie "The other side of Heaven" and had a bunch of investigators/less active members that came! It was a pretty powerful movie. One of the guys that was there was someone that had come the week before to "game night." He was a way good pool player. Shark status. He loves the Saturday activities and has started reading in the Book of Mormon as well! It's really helped me understand how important it is to build real relationships with the people we teach. A problem we can often have as missionaries is when we simply play the role of "missionary" instead of opening up and being a real person! Being personal and spiritual is a deadly combo especially when you remember that It was expedient unto God to be sent where we are, to find specific people that are prepared to receive the message from us. 

One last cool little story. On the way to church today we were sitting on the trick. I was staring at this person across from me, knowing that I should talked to him. Unfortunately, I waited to long and he got up after a few stops and left, leaving me alone and feeling kind of down. I looked over across the aisle and this cute little 1 year old was staring at me. I started making goofy faces at him and he was cracking up! The parents started laughing too, which made it easy to start talking to the mom. She way nice and had apparently met with missionaries before and knows a bishop in Argentina or something! They said they would like to have us over and I was able to get a phone number right before getting off! This taught me the importance of going about and doing good! I honestly hardly had to say anything, because they were already interested! All we have to do as missionaries/members/anyone is open up our mouths. It takes courage and often doesn't end as you'd like, but the one time it does work makes it all worth it. 

Have a great week! Glad you are enjoying your call, Dad! Be the change!

Eldste Parkinson

PDAY Pictures

Here are a few P-Day pictures this week:

Elder Crump has been in Norway only a few weeks!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Oslo Dunkers!

It has been a crazy week! Biggest thing that happened this week....Mom hit that age milestone! Happy Birthday! 21 right? :) I hope it was a great and memorable day!

Things are going well here in Oslo! We continue to have fast turnover with our investigators, but we continue to find awesome people! The man of the week is a guy from....Poland! We found him last Sunday on the street and have taught him five times since! He speaks pretty good, and kind of funny, english! He is really searching for truth and has been eating up the Book of Mormon, always asking us for more chapters to read. On our second teach he told us that he had been concerned after we had told him that the "golden plates" are not here with us on earth to see. But, after he read the introduction he explained to us that it was just like "doubting Thomas," in that we need to develop faith which comes from not seeing! The coolest part is that he came to this answer by himself, and opening up and reading from the Book of Mormon was the key to resolving his concern. Another cool thing with him is that he walked like an hour to come to church! We explained to him how to use the TBane, but I guess he didn't quite understand! That is how you know someone has real intent! 

We played some more basketball on Saturday, which we have now established as a weekly activity! G., our investigator that inspired it, is inviting all his friends and trying to make it a legit thing! We'll see what happens. We have continued to have Saturday night activities at the center too! It's been a great tool for less active member work and getting our investigators familiar with the members!!

We found another french speaking investigator, but this one doesn't speak any English or Norwegian. It's been a bit of a struggle considering I don't know any gospel words. He even came to church, but I was unable to give very much translation. Mostly just pointing to pictures in pamphlets haha. Hopefully it comes back!

Not much time to write, but I'll send some photos! I love each and every one of you!

Med Vennlig Hilsen,
Eldste Parkinson

Monday, March 2, 2015

Be the Light!


Another one bites the dust! This week has been a battle! I've learned a lot about the power of opposition that investigators experience when learning more about the church. It's been frustrating to see investigators fall away after having been so positive and making such good strides! Just got to keep fighting and loving them! Despite all the sadness you experience as a missionary the hope of Christ allows for light to prevail over darkness. Been really relating to my boy Alma this week: "and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life."

After a tough start to the week we decided to try out something we called "consecrated finding." We fasted lunch and went out for an hour to find "the one." We got near the train station and my eyes just focused in on this super tall guy in the distance. We acted on the prompting and went to talk to him. Turned out to be a Unicef worker. He told me was a big basketball fan which got me pumped and started an awesome conversation! He was familiar with our church enough to know that almost all of our building have basketball hoops! On Saturday we played some ball with him and a few members and are going to make it a weekly thing! It was interesting, because when we shared a Book of Mormon with him afterwards he told us about how he has a friend from Bergen who is a member of our church! This friend had left such a positive impression on him that it gave him a desire to talk to us. It was a testimony to me of the light we can be to those around us by simply living the Gospel!

I've been studying a lot this week about giving invitations. I was reading in 1st Nephi 8 about the Tree of Life and noticed these verses:
1And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
 15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

I love the description of Lehi's family not knowing where to go UNTIL they were invited. It's really helped me to better understand my purpose as a missionary! Alma was in darkness until Abinadi gave him an invitation. Alma's son was in the darkness until he remembered the invitation of his father. there is so much power in boldly extending commitment invitation to help people repent and become better people. 

I am eternally grateful for the atonement of my savior Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament every week and use that atonement in my life. Sometimes, this work can be hard, but I know it is by sacrificing that we can come to truly know Jesus Christ. It is by giving of ourselves that we can feel of Christ's love which enables us to have lasting and meaningful happiness. 

Be the light, Fam! 

Love always,
Eldste Parkinson

PS  Here are some pictures of the snake from last week's story.  We are teaching the woman we met again on Tuesday!