Monday, August 31, 2015

Eldler Johnson Tour

It's been a very memorable week here in Norway. Elder Johnson arrived Tuesday night and spent the week touring the mission! Wednesday morning we had a conference in Oslo, on Thursday we were in Bergen and Friday he came to our MLC at the Mission home. It was a week of learning and inspiration.

What made this visit so special is that Elder Johnson served as a missionary in Norway and absolutely loves this country. He still speaks incredible Norwegian and all of his kids have Norwegian names! It touched me to see how much love he has for this country and how happy he was to be back. 

Elder Johnson was a masterful teacher, especially in how he taught from the scriptures. He read some verses from Ether 12 when Moroni is feeling down because of his weakness in writing, especially as he compares himself to others and worries about being mocked. As we all know, Moroni received the strength to face his challenges and keep writing. But what if he had given up? Think of all the important scriptures that we wouldn't have in the Book of Mormon. The most used scripture by missionaries (Moroni 10:3-5) wouldn't be there! To me, this illustrates the importance of pressing forward because we never know the implications of what we do! I came away from the conference with a stronger desire to study and know the scriptures. 

We had a cool finding miracle yesterday. We went to visit a former in our area book and they weren't home. We decided to exercise faith that there was a reason for us to be there and we began looking for someone that we could teach. We ended up being led to this cool guy from Iceland who lives here in Norway raising Icelandic horses! How cool is that? It was fun to tell him that I had been on an Icelandic horse in Iceland. Anyways, we ended up walking over to a bench and teaching him a powerful first lesson. It all clicked for him and he is excited to meet with us again next week! 

I love these verses from I Corinthians:  
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

I am grateful the diversity in this world and for the unique talents that God gives to each one of us. It's comforting to know that God is pleased with who we are and isn't interested in how we perform relative to others. And if I am a right knee-cap, I hope I can be the best possible right knee-cap ever. 

Have a great week!

Eldste Parkinson 

We did some service taking out roots

Elder Broadbent took this shot in the Bergen church

Elder and Sister Johnson

Friday, August 28, 2015

Address Change

The Mission Home has moved, so please note address change for sending letters.

Welhavens gate 2C 1.etg
0166, Oslo

Packages still go to this address:
Elder or Sister Name
Jesu Kristi Kirke av SDH
Postboks 894
1306  Sandvika

Monday, August 24, 2015

Moving Boxes

Hey Fam! 

It's going to be short this week. I think the majority of this week was spent building, destroying or moving furniture and boxes. After many years, the office has finally moved locations from Sandvika to Oslo. We moved into the Institute center, so I am already very familiar with the area :) Despite spending a lot of time in Oslo, we will continue with Sandvika as our prostelyting area and will just commute into the city in the mornings. Even though I knew this was coming for a long time, it was really weird, and kind of hard, for me when it finally happened. Change is hard because it is uncomfortable. I enjoy being comfortable, but I've come to appreciate being uncomfortable. That is how we learn, and I think this change will be a great opportunity to learn and improve. 

When we weren't moving the office, we were over at B's house building Ikea furniture. Ikea furniture is so simple to make. It makes me feel really handy even if I'm really not. B's story just keeps getting cooler and cooler. We found out this past week that he has a step son that is 18 and who lives with them!! We have gotten to know him well and he is way cool and super athletic. We took him to soccer on Saturday and he went absolute HAM. Apparently he played on a very elite team up in Harstad and he put on quite the show. 

B's wife is way awesome and commented to us about the skepticism she had towards the church before she met us, but mentioned how impressed she was (especially given that she has an 18 year old son) that we would give up two years to serve God at this point in our lives. After many, many visits of service we finally taught her for the first time this past Saturday and the whole fam came to church on Sunday! 

I'm grateful for the power of the Gospel and I know that as we serve, love and lift others they will recognize the truth and joy of our message. 

Have a great week alle sammen! 

Eldste Parkinson

Some pictures from the move

Some flip-flops we found at IKEA.  15 kroner!

I found a good home for some of those Kool-aid packets you sent :)
Apparently Kool-aid was really big in Liberia/Sierra Leone. 

Here's the fam (minus M.) at church! They surprised us with the awesome traditional outfits

Monday, August 17, 2015

Expedient in Me

Dear Parkinson Family,

This week has been awesome! It's finally starting to feel like summer and people are starting to come back from vacation! 

The miracle of B. continued this week. When we found him he had the intentions of moving here, but hadn't been able to find a house yet. On Tueday night I got a phone call from him with the good news that they had found a house in Asker (right outside of Sandvika and still part of our area)! The next day we were over at the house helping him unload all their belongings from a storage container and on Friday we were putting together their new Ikea furniture. We have gotten to know the wife as well and have established a way chill and friendly relationship with them. Another tender mercy happened with them that goes back to my time in Drammen. Remember how I was always talking about our network? Well, there was this member in Drammen named E. from Congo. He was there short term while I was there looking for work while his family was back in northern Norway. I became fairly close with him over those 6 weeks and he left back to northern Norway about the same time I left for Sandvika having not had much success with the job hunt. Anyways, I was pretty sure E. was from Harstad so I asked B. if he happened to know him...and... they lived in the same apartment complex!! Way tight buddies. They even went and sang in the Baptist church there and never knew that they were both Mormons! It gets crazier, E. finally got a job and moved down to Drammen this month! B. sent him a pick of me on facebook or something and I think we'll all be having a reunion this evening at B's house :) It's such a reminder to me of "who is at the helm" like Erik said in his letter. It made me think of this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 100:
Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.

We don't always understand why we are sent certain places or why we were supposed to talk to certain people right away. But I know with certainty that God calls us where are needed and that when we open our mouths and be ourselves that we will find those people that it was expedient for us to find. It's been a blessing to witness a lot of the fruits of this promise as a missionary, but I am also confident that a lot of the fruits may not be seen until after this life.  Either way, what a privilege it is to be a tool in the Lord's hands in this great work!

In other news, the office is moving to Oslo this week. The institute center will be cut in half and the mission office will be taking that space. It's going to be interesting because we will keep prostelyting in Sandvika, but will have to commute back and forth to the office pretty regularly. It will be fun to be back in the capital city, though. 

Also, in about a week and a half we will be visited by a General Authority! Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy is coming. He was just put in the area presidency and what makes it even cooler is that he served a mission in Norway! We'll be having a conference here in Oslo and then another one out in Bergen. I'm way stoked!

One last thing. We got to go down to Drammen to help out with a big youth conference about missionary work. We taught a class about the Book of Mormon (my favorite subject)! It was fun to be back with a lot of youth that I had gotten to know from earlier in the mission. I enjoyed talking to them during lunch as much as the teaching. It was kind of emotional to sit there and look out the youth and remember back to when I was 16/17. I love those guys and would do anything for them to get on a mission! 

I love you all and LOVE being a missionary. 

Med Vennlig Hilsen, 
Eldste Parkinson 

PS  I forgot to tell you one thing. On Sunday D. (the Croatian new convert) came to church with his wife! His family is here and it was so cool to see them together again. Now we just need to figure out a way to communicate with the wife. Skype with the Croatian missionaries may be the best option. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Lost Sheep

WOW. This is a week I'll never forget. My comp, Elder Duncan, and the rest of his big group left this past week. There were a lot of awesome misssionaries in that group that I will miss including my trainer, Elder Garrard. With that group leaving the mission became EXTREMELY young. The first big group of missionaries came this week, although that did not go quite as planned...

Here's what happened:
So, Tuesday night is when 13 missionaries were supposed to come in and on Tuesday morning, on the way to the airport to pick up missionaries for MLC, we got a call that their flight had been canceled! One visa waiting came that night anyways, but the rest of the missionaries came in different groups throughout the week. Due to poor communication with the MTC we even drove to the airport one time only to find that the missionaries weren't coming when we thought. 3 groups came at different times on Thursday and one group came Friday morning. To make things more complicated we had missionaries that got stranded in places like Alta and Mo i Rana because there "trainees" never showed up. We had to blow a bunch of money to fly them into other cities to be with other missionaries in the mean time as well as new plane tickets for all the missionaries that came late. It was a bit stressful, but things worked out in the end and come Friday everyone made it safely to their new areas. I counted that we drove to the airport 7 times between Tuesday and Friday haha and elder Allen doesn't have a license so I had to do all the driving. It was cool to see how despite the stress and uncertainty things worked out in the end!

These new missionaries are awesome! I don't know what it is exactly, but new missionaries seem to have this special spirit to them and so much eagerness. 

On Saturday we witnessed a latter-day miracle! Here's what happened:
We were with Elder Curtis for the day since he is going home several days later than everyone else. After banking on some doors we felt strongly we needed to be somewhere else and headed to the city. We split up so that Allen and Curtis were together and I was alone on the other side of the street. After a short period of time, I contacted this man who was coming down the hill with his two boys. I stopped him and after saying a few words in Norwegian he blurted, "It's the Latter Day Saint Church! I'm a member of your church!" This man, named B., is a originally from Liberia and he escaped to Freetown, Sierra Leone during the war. Missionaries contacted his family at the refugee camp and he was eventually baptized. Not to much later he was sent to Harstad, Norway (a tiny little city between Narvik and Tromsø). He lived there for 10 years and started a family, but was unfortunately unable to got to church because there is no LDS church in Harstad, just JW's and Baptists. 2 weeks ago he moved with his familly all the way down south to Sandvika and happened to run into me on the street! He speaks English, Norwegian, French, and Krio (the language J. was teaching me) so we were bouncing between all 4 languages haha. He came to church on Sunday for three hours in a way fly corduroy suit and will try and take his family with next Sunday. It was way touching to me see a lost sheep find it's way back after 10 years of being away.
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
 One of the coolest things he told me was how grateful he was to partake of the sacrament for the first time in 10 years. Such a tender moment. "I'm home."

 I'm so grateful to be here in Norway and for the miracles that we are blessed to see each day! Have a great week! 

Eldste Parkinson

My man, B!

Last picture with Elder Duncan!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

I feel GOOD

Another transfer dead and gone. I'll be staying put, Duncan is heading back to the big USA, and Elder Allen will be coming in as my new companion. Elder Allen is from Salt Lake, has 2 transfers left, and is a stud! 

Things are starting to get in a groove here. President Hill has been here over a month now and a lot of cool things are happening right now in Norway. The dream for any missionary in Norway is baptizing a Norwegian family. This last week a Norwegian family was baptized in Sarpsborg (2 parents and a daughter). The ward was ecstatic and the bishop mentioned that this is the first Norwegian family he has seen baptized in his 20 years as a member! It was a huge miracle and a good reminder to me of the vision we need to have as missionaries of families being baptized and eventually sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. 

We had a couple awesome teaches with Bu. this week. Our goal and focus this past week was getting him to church since he hadn't been able to come the previous two weeks. One of his concerns was that he didn't have any very nice clothes to go to church. We told him that he didn't need to worry about that and even offered to try and find him some clothes if it was that important to him. On Sunday we came by his house to walk with him to church and he was wearing brand new clothes that he had bought himself for church! It was real touching to see him make that sacrifice and to experience an awesome Sunday with him in church.

Do you remember D.? He has been coming to church regularly and we just found out that his family was finally able to move to Norway. It has been powerful to see the Lord bless him as he has been keeping the commandments and being a faithful member of the church. He recently received work and now his family is here! I'm excited to meet them and hopefully start teaching them!!

There is a young man here in the Sandvika ward that I have become close to. He is 16 and is the only member in his immediate family (he was baptized a couple years ago). On Sunday he bore a POWERFUL testimony that really hit me right to the heart. He mentioned how he feels like he really doesn't know very much at this stage in life, but that there are 2 things he is 100 percent sure about. 1. There is something good about this church. 2. The missionaries have a very special and important calling. I think one reason it hit me is that it is something Dad would always share as the essence or foundation of his testimony: that there exists good in the world and that these good things come from God. 
 13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

We have something good to offer the world. Something that can't always be explained or proved, but something that can be felt and experienced. I feel good...Na na na na na na na. 

Make it a great week! 

Eldste Parkinson   

Was in Stavanger this past week and was reunited with my man Elder Holden! I guess it's Christopher now...and he's getting married!

Stavanger from the air.

The district with President Hill

PS   -- Sister hill has made a blog following their experiences in the mission. I figured you would appreciate it.