Monday, June 29, 2015

Gud vær med deg til vi sees igjen


So much has happened these last few days that it's going to be hard to formulate an email. The main theme is departure. On Wednesday, we had the departure dinner for 10 of my favorite missionaries in the mission. We were a little late for the dinner because of horrible traffic getting to the airport to drop off a new missionary. Luckily, thanks to some running and some begging to the lady at the service desk, things were able to work out with her flight. I'm going to miss these departing missionaries, though!! I have served with some of them: Årsnes, Shanklin; and around the rest of them (still not sure how to use a semi-colon so I just threw one in there). We dropped them off early the next morning at the airport as they all head back to their families and friends. It was powerful for me to see their consecration to this work and the confidence and joy that they were carrying with them back to the States! It reminded me of the scripture in Alma 26: 11-12: "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God...Yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

 On that same note, President and Sister Evans are taking off tomorrow to conclude their missionary service here in Norway! I can't begin to express my gratefulness for them and their service. They will be missed and remembered. 

President and Sister Hill will be arriving tomorrow afternoon. During the upcoming week we will be touring the mission to give President Hill the opportunity to meet all the missionaries and have interviews with them. It's going to be intense, exciting, and probably a bit stressful, but I'm going to try and do what President Evans always advised: "Ready, fire, aim!" Things are going to be crazy, but as we ACT and DO we will learn and be guided by the spirit. God always qualifies us, even if we have to learn how to swim after we have jumped in the water.

I think above everything else right now I am grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ and for the power of repentance. I'm so grateful for the healing power of the atonement. Everybody needs healing. Every week I need healing, and it always comes from serving others and inviting them to partake of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the source of true joy and satisfaction. We live in a world where "men's hearts are failing them" and material things and richness are becoming slippery. The gospel is simple and it has all the answers to the important questions. Sometimes I wish it was easier to put off the natural man. I wish it was easier to explain the gospel to the Norwegian people and to convince them to try it. Yet, God's plan has never been about the easy way. It's about the BEST way, and I don't think I'd have it any other way. 

We taught this man from Syria this week. He's separated from his family, can't speak Norwegian, can't speak English, and has had a really tough life from what I was able to understand from him. He came to church for three hours and loved it. Again, he speaks 0 of the languages spoken by any members of the ward. But, there is one language that he could understand and that he could feel: the language of the spirit. That was cool to see.  

Thanks for your love and prayers! The peanut butter has been well used on about every type of fruit and vegetable. So creamy and so delicious. 

Eldste Parkinson

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blast from the past!

Dear Fam,

Happy Father's day! Dad, thanks for all you have done over the years! Love you!

It's been a great week! It was awesome to be back in the North this week as we paid a visit to Trondheim on Tuesday. I got to see the Crabtree's for the first time in a long time. They continue to do great things in Tromsø and will be going home in September. 

The highlight of the week may have been going back to Drammen for a day on splits with Elder Shanklin. We had a day full of apointments and were able to visit a lot of people that I was very close to when I was in Drammen/Kongsberg. This included: 1. R. was the young man that was baptized back when I was in Kongsberg. I had the chance to interview him and became really close to him, partly due to our mutual love for basketball. While I was in Oslo he started struggling a little bit with different things and wasn't really the same guy when I came back to Drammen. He started coming back to church more and making small steps, but still didn't have that same light in his eyes by the time I left again. I was able to meet with him this last week and it was the same R. as before! It was so cool to see the effects of the atonement on his life. We talked a lot about enduring to the end and the importance of doing things "line upon line, precept upon precept." The process of change can be hard and sometimes slow, but man is it worth it. 2. That evening we were able to visit J. and his family and had an awesome lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism. This family has been on a journey searching for the truth. It's funny to think about all the times that J. said no to missionaries and the church in the years before he met us that one day on the bridge in Drammen. Now, it's as if we are a part of his family and whenever he prays at the end of lessons he always says, "I commend my brothers into your hands!" After the teach we had the opportunity to eat the African delicacy known as "fufu." It's this finger food that was way good. 3. T. and S. We were able to drop by and visit them as well. They are doing great. Love those guys! 4. The lady that we helped move a while back (the one with all the pictures) has started being taught. That was exciting to hear!

We saw some cool miracles this week in our own area. Saturday night we were praying for guidance about where God wanted us to go the next day. We needed three more investigators to reach our goal for the week. We felt impressed to go to a certain area right by the church. The next day, we said another prayer and decided on a road to bank on in that area. It was a big road, so we said yet another prayer to know where to start banking and felt another strong impression on where to begin. We banked on the first door and a man came out and started talking to us about his desire to believe in God, but the difficulty he has had as an engineer that believes so firmly in physics. We began to teach him and shared Alma 32:27-28 with him, inviting him to try our experiment for the next 4 weeks. The spirit was powerful as we promised him that if he would not cast out the seed, but rather listen with an open heart, he would receive an answer that God is there. He agreed to the challenge and we will be meeting with him again tomorrow! After that experience we felt strongly that he was the reason we were led to that area and so we jumped back in the car prayed for a new place to go. This time we felt like we should go to Asker (a nearby town) and find on the streets. Not too long later, both of us were at two different park benches teaching the gospel to someone that needed us. It was a testimony to me of the importance of actively involving God in our missionary work through prayer. God knows where we need to be.

I love the scripture in Alma 5:26 : "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"  I've been thinking a lot about this scripture this week for some reason. As a missionary you get to see so many people have spiritual experiences. I, myself, feel like I've been blessed with so many spiritual experiences. Yet, the question we always need to ask ourselves is: can we feel so now? Prayer, the scriptures, and living the commandments are three things that I know will help us to feel the song of redeeming love. However, I think just as important as continuing to have spiritual experiences is to never forget the spiritual experiences we have already had. I remember I was with R. awhile back and he was struggling a little bit and I looked at him and said, "remember when you stood in front of the whole congregation and bore (?) your testimony of the Book of Mormon? Remember how that felt?" In Moroni's promise in the Book of Mormon, before we are commanded to pray we are first told to REMEMBER how merciful the Lord has been since the beginning. I know that as we do this we will not be able to deny the reality of God and the miracles that we have both seen and felt. 
My man, R.!


My home away from home.

Have a great week! 
Eldste Parkinson

Monday, June 15, 2015


Dear Parkinson Fam,

It's been a great week of missionary work! We had a great zone conference meeting in Stavanger on Thursday that went all day. We led a training meeting in the morning and then President and Sister Evans led another meeting all afternoon. It was a great training meeting in which we talked a lot about teaching skills; everything from eye contact, to embracing silence, to asking inspired questions. We put a lot of focus on practicalling (don't think that is even a real word) and how we should use our study time to practice, improve, and refine our skills. That is something I hated at the beginning of the mission, but I'm finally starting to appreciate how important it is. We are promised as missionaries that God will fill our mouths "at that very hour" with the things that we need to say, but the prerequisite is the study and preparation that we put in beforehand. 

The second half of the meeting was pretty emotional as we heard the last words from President and Sister Evans as well as several missionaries that will be going home in a few weeks. It made me realize that we aren't just called to our specific mission for the people we will find, but also for the missionaries we will associate with and the Mission President and his wife. 

A lot of great things happening in the mission right now. There is an area not to far away from us (Romerike) that has not had a baptism for over 7 years. It's kind of been like the curse of Bambino. This past weekend a young woman was baptized there, ending the curse in front of an excited and energized ward! It made me realize how much power there is in baptismal services and the effect that can have on members, investigators, missionaries, really everybody. In Doctrine and Covenants it says that "in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." Ordinances is really what this church is all about! I remember when Elder Bednar was here he told of how one day there would be branches/wards in Norway in which the whole Sacrament meetings will be spent confirming members of the church. And I quote Bednar, "no more boring talks!" I'm greatful for the restored priesthood that enables these ordinances to be performed as well as enables God's power to be manifest! I love baptism. 

The members here have been awesome in opening up their homes for investigators! What's cool is a lot of it has been them reaching out to us, instead of us asking them. Now we just need to go find some more positive investigators that we can take!

A quick story. We went out on the streets to find a few days ago, committed to not leave until we had found a new investigator. I started talking to this girl pushing a baby in a stroller about the Book of Mormon and we had a nice conversation for awhile about faith in Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon's role in helping us to develop that faith. After I had gotten a return appointment I asked if I could say a quick prayer with her before we went on with our lives. She said yes. I asked if there was anything that I could pray for specifically that she needs. This question was followed by complete silence for the longest time. It must have been several minutes of her just thinking. Then she opened up and told me something she was really struggling with that she wanted me to pray for. It was cool to see the effect that that prayer had on her and even cooler to see the spirit slowly work on her until she was ready to say what she really felt. I know that as we listen with patience and love, people will tell us their hopes and desires and make it easier for us to relate the gospel to them. 

We're headed to Trondheim tomorrow and Oslo on Thursday! It's been unbelievable serving God's children here in Norway and seeing the miracles we are blessed with each and every day. Thanks for the support and love. It makes a difference!


Eldste Parkinson
A pic from our Zone Conference in Stavanger. I'm in the back somewhere. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Power of the B of M

The highlight of the week was the multi stake conference that we had on Sunday! It was a broadcasted meeting from Scotland and it was presided over by Elder Holland! Every single talk was incredible and Elder Holland's talk at the end literally blew me away. Not sure if I blinked for the whole 40 minutes. At first I was trying to figure out if he was using a teleprompter, because of how articulate he was, but I quickly realized that it was all just straight inspiration from the heavens. The topic was the Book of Mormon and it felt kind of like a Part 2 to the talk he gave a while ago called "Safety for the Soul." One thing that I really liked was how he talked about how the Book of Mormon was the spring board to his testimony. It reminded me of when I was in college and trying to figure out when I wanted to serve my mission. I had been a member my whole life, kept the commandments, been to seminary, and had lots of spiritual experiences, but for some reason something seemed to be holding me back. I remember feeling strongly impressed that I had to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before I could consider sending my mission papers in. I had that two week break before Fall Semester of school started and set it as a goal to finish it during that period of time. I read up to Alma and it was the night before my interview with Bishop. I decided to finish it that night and spent the entire night reading. It was that night that I received an overwhelming confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and it was that moment that really served as the springboard for my testimony. 

We have been really trying to improve the way in which we do member work. As a companionship we have been encouraging members to be agents and come up with their own commitments! Members want to do missionary work and there is really no need for us to just tell them what to do! Once they have come up with commitments (giving away a Book of Mormon, inviting an investigator into their home) we have been practicalling (role playing) the situation with them! It has been way powerful to me to see how much power there is in sharing the gospel with somebody you know. We talk to tons of people each day that we have never seen before, but when you get the invitation from a friend it has so much more power. 

You may remember that I mentioned a man in Oslo that was baptized named Drago. He has moved to the Sandvika ward and we have been working with him! He is very hard to communicate with, but has a passionate testimony and comes to church every week in a suit! His family should be coming over from Croatia in a few months which is way exciting. 

We are heading to Stavanger on Thursday for the first of the Zone Conferences. It will be my first time going to the western part of Norway!

Not much else to say this week. Love you all and appreciate the support! 

Eldste Parkinson

Picture of a hike we went on with an investigator.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hei dere!

Hei dere!

It has been an exciting week here in Sandvika! A lot of rain and chilly weather, but it's been beautiful to see everything turning green and starting to bloom! Norway is looking like a national geographic poster right now. 

We took a roadtrip out to a place called Hønefoss to meet with an investigator. The drive was way scenic and the teach was worth the drive! There is this mom that is fairly interested in the church and even more interested in her 17 year old son finding a faith in God. We came to the house and began talking with the mom as we waited for the son to come out. It was funny because the mom kept yelling at the son to come out and he wouldn't budge for the longest time. It seemed like the typical *mom I didn't sign up for this" situation. Anyways, he eventually came out and eventually warmed up to us once he realized that we weren't going to just command him to repentance, but really just wanted to get to know him and be friends. He started asking those golden, truth seeking questions that got me real excited and led to an awesome teach about God and prayer. 

We have this other cool investigator named N. that has started progressing towards baptism. He is originally from Portugal and we found him on the streets a few weeks back. He loves music and plays either the guitar or piano for us at the end of our lessons. He lives alone and is coming out of a very tough period in his life and is a pretty lonely man who really has only had is guitar to turn to as a friend. It got me thinking about how many people there are out there that are and feel very alone and neglected. We live in such a huge world that it can be so easy to feel lost amongst the crowd. I know for sure that I have felt like this at points in my life. The first paragraph in Preach my Gospel talks about this very point of living in a world surrounded by individuals and each individual is on their personal journey to find purpose and happiness. The gospel that we share, the message of a loving Heavenly Father and eternal families, is what leads to the peace that every individual is looking for, whether they know it or not. I think one of the greatest blessings of the gospel in my life is that at the end of the day, no matter the stresses or trials that I experienced, I can feel this sense of peace and comfort and the assurance that I am not alone.

It's so easy to undervalue to role of Jesus Christ as missionaries. It's ironic because we are literally representatives of Him. I read this talk from elder Holland where he mentioned how he asked a group of missionaries what they wanted their investigators to do as a result of their teaching. "Baptism" was the unanimous response. But what has to proceed baptism? All the missionaries in this talk began to list commitments such as reading in the Book of Mormon, coming to church, Praying, the Word of Wisdom, etc. As important as these things are, they are really just ways to measure the two underlying principles that we read in the 4th article of faith: faith in Jesus Christ and Repentance. After every lesson lately I have been trying to ask myself, "Did I help them find/strengthen their faith in Christ? Did I help them to repent?" With such a beautiful message to share, with so many answers to so many questions, it is so important to remember the rock and foundation to our whole message, Jesus Christ. It is His church that was restored. It is through Him that the plan of salvation is possible. It is His gospel that will keep us on the straight and narrow path and His commandments that will enable us to live happy and healthy lives.

We are entering President Evans' last month as mission president. We've got zone conferences lined up later in the month, and we will be leading a training meeting in conjunction with that. The mission is at a really pivotal point right now! 

We got a parking ticket this week. We bought the parking billet but apparently didn't read the sign closely enough. I think Norway's whole economy runs of these things. 

I appreciate all the love and support and hope you have a great week! 

Eldste Parkinson

The famous Oslo Ski jump with a YSA member!

I got this pic from President Evans from the Mission conference they had up in Tromsø this past weekend. A lot of familiar faces. You can see O. towards the back on the right. He is doing great. Quite a few other recent converts in the pic as well as a few members from Alta/Bodø. Miss that place!