Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Förstått God Jul!!

This sure was one memorable Christmas. It was one of those weeks where everything fell into place and by the end of the week you feel really, really blessed.
Christmas week kicked off on Monday night with this big refugee dinner that we hosted at the church. A member of the ward, who works a lot with refugee orphans, was in charge of the whole thing. It was very similar to the one we did in Boise. It made me realize how much I love young people. It was blast getting to know them and serve them, whether I could communicate with them or not. After the food there was a big limbo competition. I was the tallest by a good foot, but made it to the second to last round! Everybody got a kick out of big, tall, skinny Parkinson going under the beam haha.
We were in the homes of members for dinner every day after that. We got to spend Christmas eve with the Pedersen family, who are the parent to the stake president (I knew there fam pretty well in Drammen). Awesome traditional Norwegian dinner and it was cool talking to two of the coolest, most experienced members in Norway. On Christmas day we were with the legendary "missionary Grandma" named Else. She lives out on a farm and had all the missionaries over for a meal. Saturday we were with a newly wed couple. He is from Germany she is from Czek and they met each other in Norway and got married a couple weeks ago! Sunday, we were with the awesome Berg family! So cool to be with so many different people all celebrating the same hendelse.
Apart from being with some awesome members we found a lot of other cool things to do this week as a district. We went out on the streets with our umbrellas and sang a bunch of carols, ran around to bus drivers and gave them cookies (made by the sisters of course), and visited some less active members that had nobody to be with for Christmas. The week really taught me that the more you look outside of yourself and the more you look for opportunities to make somebody else have a great Christmas, the more meaningful Christmas will be for yourself.
Some awesome finding magic...ready for it??? Alright, so it was a rainy night in Bergen about a week ago. Nothing unusual yet. Elder Osguthorpe and I wanted to find a new investigator so we said a prayer, opened our umbrellas and walked out into the pouring rain. We were in this big open area and both ended up contacting two separate people. I contacted a 20 something year old woman from Poland that I ended up teaching for about 30 minutes! Elder O. talked to this 20 something year old guy from Norway that he ended up teaching for like 30 minutes. After those 30 minutes came to an end we came together and did an NFL bum touch celebration and were way excited! We ended up teaching both of them again this week and it went really well. It was cool to look back at the week and recognize that perfect timing and the fruits that came from it. 

More magic...on Tuesday this week I was on splits with Elder Crump and we found one of the coolest guys I've met on my mission. What made him so cool is that he was so easy to talk to! We started teaching him about the Book of Mormon and the restoration and he was feeling the power of the spirit. Out of nowhere he asked this soul piercing question: "How do you know this is true?" You could tell he was asking cause he really wanted to know. Man did it feel good to share my experience of reading the Book of Mormon and receiving an answer! I could feel the spirit giving me utterance and exactly what this young man needed to hear. Turns out this guys grandpa is a man named Åge who is a member and in charge of the maintenance of the church. You should of seen the smile on his face when I told him who we found. It was cool to feel that by the end of a 30 minute contact you were talking to a good friend, not just a random Norwegian that you met 30 minutes ago. To top things off this guy is a way good beat boxer and we started jamming out right there on the street to some "O Holy Night." :)
I enjoyed seeing you all on Friday! Looking good! Thanks for your love, prayers, and support!
Eldste Parkinson 

Stavkirke near our apartment

View of Bergen

Monday, December 21, 2015

God Jul fra Bergen

God Jul!!

Christmas is just around the corner! It's odd being so wet and warm compared to Christmas last year. It hasn't snowed since I got here. 

The ward in Bergen is very musically talented. Every single Sunday they have a musical number and this Sunday was especially special. A couple opera performances during sacrament meeting and the primary put on a full scale broadway nativity performance during the Sunday School hour! 

On Thursday we flew over to Stavanger for a Zone Leader Training and a Christmas fireside. It was awesome to see President and Sister Hill once again  as well as the rest of the missionaries from the west zone. It was a very spiritual meeting and a good reminder to look outside of yourself during this season and serve others. As part of the fireside there was a talent show and the Bergen district threw together a pretty goofy musical number. Given the short notice preparation it turned out pretty nice and I think the audience got a kick out of it. I'll have to see if I can get a video of it over to you guys in some way or another. 

I think I told you that we are working with a less active/part member family from the Congo? Anyways, we had an awesome visit with them this week. We got there right as they were finishing up a big dinner get together. They invited us in and fed us TONS of food, the highlight being the fufu. Afterwards we got to teach J., his sister, wife, niece, and sister-in-law all at the same time! It's been awesome getting to know this family.

I've spent a lot of time this week studying the attributes of Christ. Both from Preach my Gospel and as I study in the New Testament. It seems like every attribute I study becomes really relevant during the day as I'm out. I've been especially trying to be patient the last couple days. I've got so much urgency for investigators/members to progress and keep commitments and there is nothing more frustrating then when they let you down, especially when they confirmed the appointment the night before, or as in one case, called to say they were on the way and changed their mind 15 minutes later. I was sitting in Priesthood on Sunday staring at my watch and the door in anticipation for our investigators to show up. As I was sitting there, stressing out, and unable to focus on the lesson I was reminded of what I had studied this week and I felt a calmness and a peace come over me. I had done what I could and things were in the Lord's hands and in His timing. It's good to be passionate and good to be saddened when disappointments come, but you cannot become discouraged and let it weaken your faith. That is the challenge of missionary work. 

There have been so many finding miracles this week! Work + the Spirit = success. I remember one day it was just pouring rain and super windy. Our appointment had fallen through and we had some time to street contact in the city. Given the weather I don't think either of us really wanted to do that...but, we did it! And 5 minutes later we were both split up standing under an awning and teaching two separate people a lesson. It's clear as the rain water in Bergen that if an appointment falls through there is somebody else that needs us. We made it a habit at the end of the day to count those miracles that came during the time periods in which appointments fell through. 

We're doing a big refugee dinner at the church tonight!  A similar kind of thing to the one we did in Boise so I'm way excited! I look forward to seeing you all on Friday! 

Love always, 
Eldste Parkinson 

Bergen District - minus photographer Elder Osguthorpe

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This week has been awesome!

Where to begin...this week has been awesome! Despite me arriving two weeks ago, transfers was actually this week. We got two new members in the district: Elder Steed and Sister Leland. Elder Steed was trained in Sandvika while I was there so I know him well and love him! He graduated with 30 other people in a small town in Southern Utah, so he's a hard working small town boy. 

This week has been special. We continue to be blessed with people to find and teach. OUr investigator from Swaziland came to church again this week and we've been able to teach him several times now. Such a humble guy. And get this...there is a member in the ward from Malawi who served his mission in...Swaziland! We brought him on a teach and they have already become friends! What are the odds of that??

We did a street stand during the week and had some good success. After a lot of prayers the weather cooperated for enough time to keep the Book of Mormon's dry. It is incredibly wet in Bergen, so much so that you can NEVER leave your apartment with out an umbrella or you will regret it. 

I'm so grateful for the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. I love in the Book of Mormon when Christ asks the disciples what their greatest desire is and they respond by saying that they desire the Holy Ghost. Preach my Gospel and the scriptures say a lot about the need to have the spirit with you and the effort that is required to "receive the Holy Ghost." One of the first things I learned in Norwegian was how to ask for the spirit: "Vi ber deg om at Den Hellige Ånd må være med oss idag." There haven't been very many prayers I've said on my mission in which that sentence hasn't come out in one way or another. I feel like at this point in my mission I say the sentence with a lot more sincerity and urgency, because I know that I NEED the spirit. There have been so many moments this week where I could literally feel the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost. So many moments where we "coincidentally" ran into investigators and members. For example, we called up this less active teenager one night and got an appointment with him! An hour later as we are getting off the bybane I see a guy staring at me and I go to talk to him and he turns out to be the same less active member I had just talked to on the phone! I know that as we live worthily and earnestly seek out the Holy Ghost in Our life we can always be where the Lord wants us to be! And there is nothing quite like that.

We are going caroling tonight! Should be fun! Nothing better than Christmas in Norway!

Eldste Parkinson

The district and a few YSA members

Monday, December 7, 2015

All Coming Together

First full week in Bergen has come to an end and I love it here. 

Where to begin? We kicked off the Christmas initiative this week! It's extra exciting this year because we have it in Norwegian! check it out. It's been cool to have a unique and special way to approach people wherever we are. For example: We take the Bybane (metro car thing) in and out of the city every day and have been using that as an opportunity to talk to people. All of us in the district here committed to opening our mouths each time we get on the bybane. There have been tons of miracles finding prepared people and sharing the christmas video with people on their Iphones. Sometimes you get shut down hard, but it's always worth it for those that are prepared. Elder O. had an awesome experience talking to a lady about the church and showing her the video. In the end, she grabbed his planner wrote down her number and yelled out her name as she ran off the bybane to make her stop.  

Just like Oslo, there are quite a few members on the list here. One of the first things I did when I got here was call the three less-actives on the list from Liberia. It was funny because we went to visit one of them earlier this week and he wasn't home. We gave him a call as we were leaving and he told us he was on the Bybane now and could meet at the church in 20 minutes! We ended teaching him and establishing an awesome relationship with him!! Turns out, like it always does, that he knows Benjamin's sister very well and that she works right next door to the church! The other two members were way down to meet. 

Our Norwegian investigator M. keeps making awesome progress! He's got a pretty cool story. Turns out he met missionaries over a year ago and didn't show up at the appointment he set with them. A year later, he found himself working at a grocery store right by the church and saw the missionaries walking by. Feeling bad for what had happened a year ago, he yelled out to them and said he wanted to learn more. A month later and he is eating up everything we teach him! Awesome guy. 

As a missionary in Norway we meet and teach people from all over the world. This week we found a man from a country most people have never heard of: Swaziland! We met up at a bybane stop and invited him to church. Pretty quick contact and didn't think much of it. Come Sunday, a lot of the investigators we had been counting on coming to church had bailed. I was sitting in the front bench with the young men waiting to pass the Sacrament and my brother from Swaziland strolled right in and sat down! That moment was priceless. Turns out he lives right by the church and he loved everything about it. Looking forward to teaching him!!

Another cool story. There is an inactive member on the list that we got a hold of from Congo that turns out to be a "B".  2.0. Baptized when he was 16 in Congo and almost served a mission. Ended up in Norway and lost contact with the church when he got to Bergen. We dropped by last night and taught him with his non member brother! Way cool sheep rescuing experience. We've got it set up to teach him and his non member wife each week! Families!!

I've been feeling such a high level of urgency lately. Urgency to find, teach, serve, lift, baptize people here in Bergen. All the missionary work dots seemed to be connected right now and I honestly have no other desire than to eat, sleep, and drink missionary work.

A cool scripture I liked this week from Alma 61: 9 And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.

Not sure quite what it means to be censured, but I think we all feel like we've been censured sometimes. Whether it's getting cut off while you are driving, getting "nei takk" on the street, or (in Pahoran's case) getting called out when you didn't do anything wrong. Getting offended drives the spirit away from your life/missionary work. Keeping a positive attitude keeps the spirit in you missionary work. This one is hard for me, but if you need the spirit to teach and find you can't afford to drive it away! 

Have a great week! Sorry, I have been horrible and sending snail mail/birthday notes/Christmas gift/anything. I'll repent when I get home, but know that I love you and am thinking of you! 

Eldste Parkinson

Bergen is a beaut!