Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 81 - the last post from Norway

Hey Fam!

Oh my goodness! I cannot believe that this is the last email I will be sending home and that I only have a few more days as Søster Taylor. This has been the most amazing journey I have ever been on and I wouldn't trade it for the world! I am dying just thinking about getting on a plane tomorrow to fly to Oslo for my departure interview with President Evans and then back to the states on Wednesday. It has gone by so fast... 

The past couple of days have been really hard and really good all at the same time. I experienced my last Sacrament Meeting in Norwegian yesterday and was given the opportunity to bear my testimony. During the intermediate hymn, I just cried and cried- it was amazing and I just knew that these people are my brothers and sisters. I love this country and I love these people. It is going to kill me to leave! However, I know I have done my part here. I am so incredibly grateful for the time I have had to serve the Lord in this part of His vineyard. It has truly been an honor! I am so incredibly grateful for all of your support and your prayers. I have felt the strength that comes from them. 

Remember this scripture? Alma 29:9 

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

It is the scripture I decided to put on my plaque. I read it again it again this morning and it is more true today than it was when I first chose it. This was not my mission, it was the Lord's and so I cannot take the glory. The glory goes to Him. He sent me here and I was merely His instrument. That, my friends has been the greatest honor! He has trusted me enough to help some of His choice children to come into the gospel. As I continued reading this chapter in the Book of Mormon, verse 10 struck me. It says: 

And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

Being able to see these precious souls come unto Christ has reminded me of how blessed I am to be a member of this church and to have the heritage that I do. The Lord has truly been merciful towards me! He has heard every prayer that has been expressed, vocally or in my heart and I He has helped me all along the way. Yes, my full-time mission is almost over, but now I have the opportunity and obligation to take what I have learned here and use it more fully in my life. That I am excited for! I cannot wait to be a better member of the church and continue doing the Lord's work just in different ways! 

There are things I will desperately miss here. To name a few:

   - Speaking Norwegian 24-7 or throwing Norwegian words into English sentences and having people understand
   - Meet cakes, boiled potatoes, stewed peas and brown sauce
   - Amazing public transportation
   - Beautiful scenery everywhere you turn
   - Chocolate
   - My new converts
   - Those stalwart members who keep the truth rolling forth

Best year and a half of my life! I will never forget it! 

A final update on our fantastic investigators- our twin brothers both have baptismal dates! One for the first of December and the other for the 8th. They are so amazing! The ward just loves them and they are enjoying feeling the Spirit when they pray. They were atheists like 2-3 weeks ago! It truly is a miracle to see the changes they are making in their lives. I am honored to have been able to meet with them! 

Oh how I love this work! And oh how I love you as well! I am excited to see you all real soon here... I can't believe it is already that time! :) See you in a few! :)

♥- Søster Taylor

P.S. So I will be flying to Oslo tomorrow morning to spend the day. I'll sleep at the mission home and then head to the airport bright and early Wednesday morning. We'll see you at 9pm!!! :)  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 80

Dog dag, god dag! (Good day, good day! Typical Norwegian greeting)

Wow- This week has gone by so fast... I know I said this last week, but TIME IS FLYING!!! I hate it so bad! I will say- this is not at all trunky- I am getting pretty excited to see you all. I can't wait to give you all big hugs- ah it's going to be so great!! :)

Well, the weather has been kind of crazy here. We had a killer rain storm on Wednesday and it hasn't really stopped drizzling since then. It is not cold enough for snow yet... Thank heavens! It sounds like you have enough there to make up for what the Norwegians are lacking! ;) 

So I have a couple of stories to share with you.... 4 to be exact! I will share them in chronological order. :)

On Friday, we experienced Eritrean food. Do you know where that is? It is food from a very small country in Africa; there are a ton of people from Eritrea here in Norway. We went to visit a family and teach them the gospel at their home. It was really nice to be with them- they are a beautiful family with 2 daughters and an adorable little boy. At the end of the teach, he asked us if we wanted to try some of their ethnic food. We had eaten dinner at a members house just before we had gone to their home so we were totally stuffed. (We normally stuff ourselves at members houses because it shows that we like the food and they all think we are starving so they make us eat. Ha ha!) But he wouldn't let us refuse, so he said something to his wife in Amharic and she brought out 2 things from the kitchen- a plate of spongy-pancake-looking-things and then a pot of some red, meaty sauce. We all took a pancake thing and then the wife took a large spoonful of sauce and dumped it on top of the pancake. The father then showed us that you had to rip a little of the pancake off and rub it around in the sauce after which you shoved it in your mouth with your fingers. Not so bad, right? WRONG! It was horrible! First of all the sauce stuff was so spicy our noses ran and second of all the texture was awful! Sister Pace later described it as eating Spongebob. Ha ha! Third problem, we were already stuffed and the pancakes were the size of a full dinner plate. I am not going to lie, I was gagging and the whole time I was praying that I would just be able to get it all down without throwing up. We all pasted fake smiles on our sick faces, thanked them and got out of there! We felt like dying after that, but all was well- we survived! :)  

Also on Friday, we taught Remo (that 18 year old twin who was texting us after a way long time of no contact, remember him?) It was so great! He has been reading in the Book of Mormon and praying everyday and has truly found a faith in God! SUCCESS! He is such a cool kid! We were able to set a baptismal date with him- December 1st! I will not be there (sadly), but I am so grateful for the chance I've had to watch his life get touched by the love of God! :) He came to church on Sunday and loved it and we are meeting with his twin brother tonight! :) 

Well, the highlight of my week was yesterday in church- Bob showed up in a white shirt and tie and was able to use his priesthood for the first time to pass the sacrament! The other men had not given him any instruction, so he looked completely lost and totally freaked out, but he did such a god job! We could tell afterward that he was so proud of himself. Sister Pace and I were like a proud moms- he is so great!!! :)

Yesterday was the primary program and it was so fun! All 5 missionaries (our trio and the elders) were invited to sing "The Armies of Helaman" with the kids and everyone just loved that! Want to know how I know? They were all crying. :) It was really powerful! I love that song. :) Funniest part about it- remember the down syndrome girl I was telling you about last week? She decided to get up with all the kids and sit on the stand during the program! It reminded me 100% of Sam-o and I was dying the whole time! She didn't know any of the songs, but she was just singing her little heart out! :) Everytime she would look at me, I would give her a big smile and she would just grin from ear to ear! I loved every minute of it! :)  

3 words, my friends: LIFE IS GOOD. Yes, there are always hard things and yes, we experience pain and sorrow and sadness sometimes, but MAN! WE ARE SO BLESSED!!! There is opposition in all things and where there is bad there HAS TO BE GOOD TOO! :) There are so many little miracles all around and it is so easy to overlook them, but when we open our eyes to them, we feel how much Heavenly Father truly loves us! He really does! :)

Have the greatest of weeks! I love and miss you all! :)

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

P.S. Be grateful for this huge email - it's most likely the last one like it... You probably will only get like 8 words next week! ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week 79

Hello from Bergen! 

Another week has come and gone... Can you believe it is Monday again? Time flies so fast! I officially hit my 18 months as a missionary mark yesterday!

I hope all is going well there in the US of A. :) Everything is lovely here in Norway! The weather has been fairly mild, but on the cold side. Trio is doing well- we are working like monsters! We have so many wonderful people we are working with. We have recently started teaching a family- a single mother with 2 daughters, one 16 and one 18 who is downs syndrome. Oh my goodness- she stole my heart from the first time I talked to her! Her name is Joyce and she is so sassy! She picked out her dress special for church yesterday and I got to sit by her during Sacrament meeting. She would lay on my shoulder and tell me that I had pretty hair. Ha ha! Their family lives on an island way out of town and it takes between 1-2 hours to get there (1 by car, 2 by bus). We are going to visit them on Saturday to teach them more about the Restoration. :) They all have a deep desire to be baptized!

After church yesterday, Sister Pace and I had the opportunity to sit in on the ordinations of Bob and Smith to the Aaronic Priesthood. Oh my goodness- it was so great! I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the opportunity I have had to be able to work with these 2. They are so special and I just know that God is so proud of them and their decisions right now. They both just glowed afterwards! Smith told us later that he is really shy and was nervous to get the priesthood, but he took an account of his life and felt like he hadn't really done anything to serve God and this was his chance. Wow!! I am the luckiest missionary on the planet! I feel like I am cloud nine all of the time- I love it! :)

We have another busy week ahead of us and I am super excited! I hope that you all have a fantastic week! I love and miss you!

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 78

Hi Family!

How are you all doing? I hope all is well there in Centerville! I still can't believe you guys are back there..... That is crazy!

This week has been 100% AMAZING!!! I am so happy and the work is going great!

On Thursday, we went to a high school and taught a religions class about the church. It was intimidating, but a really cool experience. On Friday, we flew to Oslo for a mission conference with Elder Teixeira from the quorum of the seventy. It was such a great learning experience. The Spirit is always the best teacher! :)

On Saturday, we had a baptism! Smith was baptized and it turned out so great! He brought 4 friends with him to his baptism and none of them were members! He is a missionary already! :) He was so incredibly happy and was just glowing! Lots of members were able to come and support him and that just made everything better! I am so grateful to be a part of this work! It truly is miraculous!

Earlier last week, we had a really cool experience. I received a couple of texts from a number that I no longer had in my phone. The person was asking if we were still helping people take an experiment to find God. I told them yes and we made an appointment for Saturday after the baptism. I had no idea who this person was, just that we had met them and gave them our number. On Saturday, we met up- it was an 18year old boy who sister Pace and I had met within our first 2 weeks in Bergen. We had tried to get an appointment, but his grandpa had a heart attack and we lost contact shortly after. He was going through his phone and saw my number and felt like it was right to text. We had the most amazing teach! He has no faith in God, but he wants one and we were able to help him recognize the Spirit in the teach! It was so cool! He came to church yesterday and loved it! And he will be bringing his twin brother with him the next time we meet! :) Miracles!!!

Well, I am sorry this is short, but I have to go now... School business took too long. I will send you pictures next week! :)

I love and miss you all! :)

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 77

Hi Family!

I hope all is going well with you! How is everything? 

This has been a crazy week for us here in Bergen. It has been great! The best news is that we are having a baptism on Saturday!!! Our investigator, Smith, is getting baptized. Sadly, our other investigator that was supposed to be getting baptized as well didn't make it to church yesterday and therefore couldn't make his date. We are still so excited for Smith! He is so ready for this! :) 

We have a new companion! So there are 3 of us now. Sister Campbell, my first trainee, went home early because of health reasons and so Sister Grass is now our companion! It is kind of weird being 3, but I am so glad it is with Sister Pace and Sister Grass- I love them both so very much! We have combined our areas and so we have tons of people to work with! It is so much fun! :) 

We are finding lots and lots of new people as well- lots of Norwegian young adult girls- we are looking for a wife for Bob! Ha ha! That is the joke between the 3 of us. :) 

Something way exciting happened today- There was a girl named Liv who was baptized a week before I got to Norway. We became really good friends while she was studying in Oslo and then we both moved- I went to Trondheim and she moved to her home town of Bergen. It was so exciting to come here and be able to see her again! Well yesterday, in Sacrament meeting, she had her missionary farewell! She will be serving in Spain and I am so excited for her! She actually told me when she was in Oslo that she was thinking about serving a mission, and now she is actually doing it! She is on a plane as we speak to the U.S. to go to the MTC! I am so proud of her! :) 

Well, sorry this isn't a very exciting email... Just know that everything is going so great and I am loving being a missionary so much! It truly is the Lord's work! :)

Good luck with everything this week! I love you tons!

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 76

Hi Fam!

How is everything going? I hope you all have had a wonderful week.

Weather in Bergen- It has been actually quite nice here lately. It hasn't rained too much and the sun has been out. It is getting cooler and we have officially busted out the thermals, but it's not cold enough for a coat yet. :)

The work- Everything is going really well right now! We actually have 2 baptismal dates for the 27th of October. I think I told you about the one last week- Ohakam. On Monday, we taught Smith, another investigator and it was super powerful and so, being prompted, we invited him to be baptized. He is super cool and we are way excited for him! We are going to have a double baptism party that day!!! Woot!

The mission- We had zone conference this week in Stavanger. It was so great to be with President and Sister Evans and the rest of the missionaries in our area. We had a lot of great activities to strengthen our abilities as missionaries. After their presentation, the AP's invited the whole zone to kneel down and pray for each of our areas and to continually lead us to those who are prepared. Guess who they asked to pray.... Me. It was a lot of pressure, but I was grateful for the opportunity. Towards the end of the zone conference, They always have the soon-to-be-leaving missionaries are asked to bear their testimonies. It's called their "burnimony"- mission language. Well, I had to give my burnimony and it was so hard! I cried through the whole thing....of course! Ha ha! But it was a great opportunity to reflect on the things I have learned and feel an inexpressible amount of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. 

Funny story- When we were in the airport to fly home, our plane got delayed for over an hour. They were able to get all of the other people on our flight on an earlier flight, but the 6 of us in our district got stuck waiting until the later time. When it was finally time for our flight to leave, there were only 6 of us on the plane! Think about it- 6 Mormon missionaries on a 737! It was like we had a private plane to take us home! We were feeling pretty cool! :)

Well, that's about all I have got for the week. I hope you guys have a good one! I love and miss you tons!!! :)

♥- Søster Taylor

Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 75

Hi Family! :)

How are you all doing? Have you had a good week? :)

This week has been been really quite good. Sister Pace and I are doing great. We have such a fun time together and we work really hard. :) Fall is in the air here in Bergen. All of the trees are beginning to change colors and at first I though it was so pretty, but now I am starting to miss all of the green! It is so beautiful here! :) It has been really rainy lately, but when it is time for us to contact it seems that the rain lets up a little. When we are inside, however, it pours! :) Nothing like a little tender mercy! :)

We have been meeting with some really cool people lately- we have this Norwegian guy named Even, an African guy Emmanuel, an African guy named Smith, and another African guy named Ohakam. We are loving all people! :) Lots of Africans and lots of teaching in English... I miss Norwegian... But it's all good! :) Anyways, Emmanuel was actually a referral from a member who met him on the train. He is here doing his master studies and told us when we first met with him that he had prayed to know God's will for him, then met that member. He is loving learning more about the church and really feels the Spirit. :) Ohakam is a miracle man! Sister Pace and I contacted into him and his friend last Friday and gave them a church card because they didn't want to talk. Randomly, Ohakam called me last Sunday and wanted to come to church- we had totally forgotten that we had invited him! So he came and really liked it. We taught him once and then we had a second teach on Saturday- it was so great! We wanted to show him the 20 minute film about the restoration and after we did that, Sister Pace and I just bore our testimonies. It was really simple and we didn't say very much... But then I recognized that the Spirit was there and that Ohakam was feeling it big time so I asked him how he was feeling in his heart. He said "My heart is really hot, like it's on fire!" I told him that it was the Spirit and we just sat there together enjoying that sweet feeling. Then Sister Pace did something that we hadn't planned to do- she invited him to be baptized and set a date with him- just like we had practiced in companionship study earlier that day! She is the bomb! Ohakam accepted the invitation and has a goal to be baptized on the 27th of October! Miracle! :)

General Conference was 100% the best 2 days EVER! I felt the Spirit blazing through my heart the minute I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir start singing. Oh what amazing counsel we have been given! Did anyone else pick up the theme of the need to lay aside our sins, forget ourselves and remember the Savior's call to follow Him and serve others? It was beautiful! I learned so much and it was just what I needed this week! :) I think the thing that got Sister Pace and I got the most excited about was the age change for missionaries! Brothers- get started NOW on the preparations for your missions! Heed the word of God's prophet and be ready to serve at 18! Do you have any idea what this is going to do for missionary work throughout the world??? It is going to EXPLODE!!! So many more sisters will serve and, sorry boys, but the sisters are where the baptisms are at! :) That was history in the making! :)

Anyways, that's about all I've got for the week. I hope you all have a wonderful week and know that I love you all tons!

Vi snakkes!

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor