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