Monday, April 27, 2015

Unplanned Surprises


How's the Parkinson fam doing?? I can't believe David has a driver's license already! Idaho is always bending the rules :) We have been driving a lot here lately and I am amazed by how beautiful Norway is! 

It was a way busy week with a lot of unplanned surprises. One thing Elder Shanklin and I have been getting pretty proud of (in a very humble way) is the network we are building in Drammen. Drammen is actually a pretty small city (about the size of Tromsø) which is misleading when you see how big the ward is. The makeup of Drammen is kind of like how Erik described Budapest, having a river in the middle with two "miny cities" on each side. We have decided to do most of our finding on the side called "Strømsø."It's funny because it is mostly the same people that walk around in Strømsø, a lot of them being foreigners. In just the month I've been here Elder Shanklin and I have built up quite the network of relationships with the people there. It seems whenever we are driving through Strømsø people that we are friends with are waving at us. There's this one French guy that I've gotten to know pretty well and we always see him with a different friend. The funny thing is that we always know the friend through one way or another. My french buddy was shocked: "you know H., J., the tall guy, everybody!! How do y'all do that?" A lot of it has come from the mindset of going about doing good. Helping people move, playing some ball on the outdoor court, giving directions, etc. As we've done this people have started inviting themselves to learn about our message, come to church, you name it. When you really think about what Christ did, it was all about service. Seeing our message in action is so much more powerful than hearing it, and the most effective way to spread the light of Christ. 

We had another cool experience the other day. An appointment that we had the next day at 18 had just fallen through, so we decided to find someone on the street that we could get a return appointment for at 6 the next day! We had just gotten out of the car and decided to say a quick prayer. I told elder Shanklin in a jokingly way "let's kneel for this one!" Lo and behold, Shanklin smiles and kneels on the ground right there on the street (There weren't really any people around). I figured why not, and we said a real quick kneeling prayer on the sidewalk to find a prepared person to teach at 6. Well, I don't think there is something that will give you more faith to find than a kneeling prayer on a dirty sidewalk in your suit pants. We found an awesome guy that we were sure was the one...and he ended up being the sisters investigator. We tried visiting a new convert that lived in the area and he wasn't very interested in talking to us at the moment. The game clock was winding down and we took a last ditch effort to try back a former that I swear we had tried 50 times before without him answering. This time though, we talked to him and got that appointment for the next day at 6! It turned out to be an awesome lesson and he made the 30 minute drive to Stake conference with his son on Sunday!  God answers prayers. 

I've been reading in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon this week and came upon a part of a scripture that I have been thinking about a lot this week. 
 "Now would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be  cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also." (Alma 60:23). 
This is a principle that I know can be applied to ourselves as individuals, but also to groups of people as Moroni did. I think often we can be so focused on results that we forget to look to the true source of all the success that we have as missionaries: our conversion to Jesus Christ. We may be doing the necessary outward things to have success, but it's the inner desires that will allow for true miracles and change. I think it's important to always be humble enough to ask "What lack I yet?" Because in God's eyes we are all about the same and have a LONG way to go. 

I'm loving every day here in Drammen! Our Icelandic family brought back some shark for us to try from their most recent trip to Iceland. It was probably a one time thing haha. We also had an awesome Stake Conference with some 500 members gathered from all over Norway. It was cool to feel of the powerful spirit in that meeting! One of the young men that spoke talked about being grateful for growing up in a home instead of a house. Amen to that! Shout out to Mama and Papa Parkinson for somehow keeping me on that straight path to the mission field!!

Love, always, 
eldste Parkinson

Monday, April 20, 2015

Second Wind

Where to start. This week really was a special one full of incredible experiences. A lot of the days this week seemed to follow a pattern: a really tough beginning to the day followed by an outpouring of blessings in the end. God always blesses you for remaining diligent to the end. I remember learning this principle when I was with Erik and Dad biking in the sawtooth mountains of Idaho. Dad had found a "short" bike ride to go on before the rest of the crew from the ward came. I remember the whole bike ride being straight up hill on a pretty boring gravel road. I remember how frustrated i got thinking that this is not what I signed up for. I think i attempted to convince Dad to turn around, but he just calmly kept biking up the hill. After what seemed like a 30 mile ascent we came to the top and enjoyed an incredibly scenic and awesome trail down. I remember how by the end I had completely forgotten about how the bike ride had begun. I think this principle can apply to almost everything in life. I remember in basketball my coach Bernie would always tell us at the end of games to dig for our "second wind." Whenever you feel like you've got nothing left, that last breath, that last effort is the one that makes all the difference.

Wednesday was a perfect example of one of those days. We had a several experiences early in the day of people just criticizing our church, our beliefs, our skin color, America, you name it. One guy was so shocked that I would pay money to go around just to get rejected. The only thing I could think to say back is that those aren't the experiences I will remember. That night we were supposed to be bringing a new convert to a volleyball activity, but he canceled on us last minute. We call up this new investigator we have named M. and get an appointment with him that evening. With out much expectations we meet him at the train station and find a few seats in the station to sit down and teach him. It was an incredible lesson about the restoration and the spirit was strong. Right after we finished, the man that had been sitting nearby us asked if we were Christians! Needless to say, we sat down again and began teaching him as well! He was quite positive and agreed to a return appointment. As he walked over to get some money on his phone so we could exchange numbers another man came up to us and told us he wanted to be taught next!! It was a surreal experience having people wait in line to hear your message.

This past Friday we were able to teach J. and His family again! We took a member with us that lived in the area and had a great discussion about the Gospel of Jesus Christ using the Book of Mormon. Our one concern with this family was getting them to church, because they live a ways away and the Buss doesn't go on Sunday mornings.To add to that they have 3 kids, and finding a ride for 5 people isn't easy. As we were discussing this concern, the member we had with us chimed in "my brother owns a mini buss that I could drive your family in!" Thanks to this miracle buss, this whole family made it to church this past Sunday! There is nothing better than teaching a family and it has really helped me to understand and see first-hand the second principle that we teach in every lesson: "The Gospel blesses Families."

Norway is starting to get beautiful, which I swear has a correlation to the effectiveness of the missionary work here. It's weird going around in just white shirts now. When you have a coat on you can kind of blend in to the crowd, but with a white shirt on there is no mixing in with the crowd. I love it. 

I am loving the work here in Norway! Thanks for all the support, prayers, and love! 

Elder Parkinson

My new pose

Got to see Elder Reber again!

Halverson, Duncan, Shanklin. Love these guys!! 
Hike Throwback
Some Icelandic boys that we teach.
They are teaching me Icelandic!!

Monday, April 13, 2015


A lot of exciting things happening this week! The weather has gotten real nice, and the suit jackets are finally off!
A lot of cool miracle stories this week, but the best one goes to a guy named J. that we found this week. We actually found him on the streets in Drammen on Easter weekend and were able to get a return appointment for this past Friday! We had the address, but when we were on our way we found out that the address wasn't in the GPS for some reason. We drove towards the area we thought it was and gave him a call, but due to the fact that he is quite new to Norway he was unable to really give us any directions. We pulled into a gas station and I ran up to a random guy and he gave us some really vague directions, "go through some round abouts and turn left after a while" is basically what he told us. We drove for a while longer, pretty much just guessing and praying we were on the right roads (we are in the middle of nowhere by the way). We end up on an unmarked road and decided to ask some people if they know where ______ road is. To our surprise, we were on the road and only a few houses from the right address! 

That was only the beginning, though, because the teach ended up being legendary! J. happened to have a whole family that was way prepared and interested to hear our message. He told us about how missionaries always ran into him on the streets (in Africa, Greece, and even here in Drammen), and how he always would reject them and say no. When we contacted him he decided it was time to finally give us a chance. He told us about his conversion from Islam to Christianity and his desire to have a strong Christian family. He even told us a crazy story of giving up everything because of a spiritual prompting to move his family to Norway! It gives me hope to see how people are literally prepared to receive the Gospel.
We did a Zone Leader Training meeting this week all about planning. Planning is a skill that I lacked before my mission. I remember growing up I would always throw away the planners that they gave us in school and pretty much try to keep track of things in my head. No wonder I always found myself finishing assignments the class period before it was do. With missionary work, I have learned how crucial planning is in helping us be effective, urgent, and miracle working missionaries. One thing we initiated in the zone is that you can no longer simply write "contacting" and "banking" in your planners. It can be a bad habit in smaller areas to simply study in the morning, contact on the streets until dinner, and bank on doors until the end of the day. As much as anything it is exhausting and hard to keep a positive attitude through it all. 

We talked a lot about how all your finding should be "on the way" to something. Contacting on the way to an investigators house, banking near a members home, etc. There are so many creative things you can do to give yourself a purpose while you are out! Yesterday, Elder Shanklin and I had an hour after church that we needed to find a new investigator, but we were struggling to think of a Point B. So, we made a focus of talking to people that were sitting down (#findthesquatters)! Nobody was responding at first, but we eventually found a guy that we were able to sit down with and teach a short lesson! When you have plans the spirit is with you. This makes you passionate, which leads to miracles! ! !
I've been reflecting a lot this week on Elder Holland's talk from conference and the story of the two brothers. First off, it made me grateful for my two brothers and the examples that they are for me! Second, it has made me grateful for my elder brother Jesus Christ. I think one of the most powerful parts of the story was how the Boy was afraid to have his younger brother see him fall to his death. How often are we afraid to involve Jesus Christ in our lives when things are tough? It is so natural to try and manage things on our own and even feel unworthy of Christ's willing and opened hands. I hope I can always be humble enough to accept and embrace Christ's help in my life!

It was awesome to be back in church for the first time this past Sunday! It was cool to see so many familiar faces! It was funny, I was sitting there in church yesterday, struggling to stay awake and focused, yet feeling so grateful to be there. It made me realize how much church is like a hospital. I'm grateful for the ordinance of the Sacrament and the spirit that is present each and every Sunday to HEAL us, comfort us, and inspire us. That's what it's all about.
Have an awesome week!! Jeg er glad i dere! 

Eldste Parkinson

Here are some pictures from our hike.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Back in Drammen


It's been a bittersweet week! Leaving Oslo was hard, but I don't think there is a place I'd rather go then the sweet city of Drammen! Even though we didn't have regular church this week, it was fun to run into a bunch of members I knew from before! It's a ward that missionaries are dying to come to because of how great the work is going here and how strong the members are. I'm grateful and humbled by this new challenge! 

We are working right now with a very recent convert that is from Iceland! She was baptized here a few months ago and we have started teaching her two boys! Awesome kids and an awesome family! 

Being Easter this week the work was pretty hard. In Norway, as I probably mentioned last year, everything shuts down for about a week around Easter. Most people use the time to travel, which can make it really hard to meet with investigators and find new people. Even today all the shops and stores are closed. 

We've got basketball going down here in Drammen too! The Drammen ward is also really into Soccer and we went out and played with a bunch of members today for Pday. I realized how little soccer I have played in my life and I got worked pretty good haha. 

Other than that, we've got a car! Maybe that will help me put some weight back on this transfer. It's nice being able to adjust to an area so fast and just put the whole focus on the missionary work right from the get go. 

I really enjoyed General Conference and all the testimonies that were shared of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. Because we are bearing our testimonies so much as missionaries it can be easy to overlook the importance of Christ's atonement and even take it for granted in a way. I'm grateful for the opportunity we all had this past week to remember Christ's atonement and the hope and peace that this brings to our lives. I am grateful for living prophets today that testify of Him and teach us things that will help us to follow His footsteps. Everything we teach really is just an appendage to the fact that Christ died for us and resurrected on the 3rd day. I know that repentance and sincerely turning towards our savior Jesus Christ is the most fulfilling and rewarding thing we can do in our lives. 

Have a great week!
Eldste Parkinson

Playing Pool
MMK Ben and his wife