Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Week 34

Hi Family!!

Oh my goodness, it was so good talking to you all yesterday! It was the best part of my Christmas. :) I loved being able to see all of you... It felt like you were so close! You guys are amazing. :)

It sounded like you guys had a good day... I hope so! After we skyped, we ate dinner with some of the members and investigators in the area. There was the 6 missionaries and the senior couple, this guy named Mack who is American (he baked the turkeys), Myren who is a Norwegian man and works at the church all day everyday (he always helps us with our Norsk skills. I need to send you pictures of him- he is so funny!), Hande who is blind and is investigating the church (she should be getting baptized real soon), Corrie a new convert from the netherlands, and 2 investigators named Shirwan and Mike.  It was really nice! The meal was absolutely delicious- turkey, roast, yams, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and chocolate cake for dessert. We all cleaned  up and then Mack and Mike did magic tricks for everyone and Myren was baffled by ther skills! He kept asking them how they were doing it... So hilarious! You had to be there... After, we played ping pong and talked. Myren sat on a table that cost 1100 kroner (200 dollars) and broke it like it was made of toothpicks! Oh man! :) Then we all sat around and watched "It's a wonderful life". That is such a cute movie! I loved it so very much! We need that one for Christmas next year. :) I cannot wait for that!

Man, I miss you guys so much! I am so excited for Mothers' Day when we can talk again! (Can you believe that about 5 months after that, I will be home again?! Crazy...)

This week is going to be great- we are just gonna hop right back into the swing of things and take those things we learned at the mission conference to find some people to baptize. Super exciting! :)

I love you all tons and tons! I hope you have a great week. Sorry this is so short- I have nothing to say since we just talked... :)

You are the best!
Vi Snakkes :)

♥-Søster Jessica Taylor

P.S. here is a link to some of the pictures from the mission conference. Some of them are a little crazy...


P.S.S. I attached a few more pictures as well. Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 33

Hello Family! I love you all so very much and I am so excited to see you all over skype in a few days! :)

So I am now in Trondheim. I thought Oslo was beautiful... Oh man! Trondheim beats it by a landslide! This place is unlike anywhere I have ever seen before! This is the city where they crown the king of Norway because they have a famous cathedral here and it is absolutely breath-taking. :) My companion, Sister Grass is wonderful. She has been here for one month less than I have, so I met here in the MTC. I love her to pieces. She knows this city really well and she is helping me to get to know everyone. So on Sunday, I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. It was the first talk that I have given here in Norway and, being in Norway, it was in Norwegian. I was terrified! But just like what happened with my farewell talk and that fireside, I just stood up there and let Heavenly Father do the rest. Ha ha! I hope my Norwegian wasn't too bad. The girl that was translating from Norwegian to English said that I sounded great for only being here for 4 ish months. I was grateful for that. :) I am just glad that it is over. Ha ha!

Anyways, the people here are wonderful. The ward is full of lots of older people and some YSA's I love it so much. We are teaching some really cool people as well. One of them is Marita. She has been taught all of the lessons and is working on setting a date. We challenged her to be baptized on the 7th of January, but she wasn't so sure about that. She is supposed to pray about it and tell us in our next meeting. Abdul is a guy from Morocco who speaks a whole lot of Spanish and not so much Norsk, but he has met with us twice and he came to church yesterday. We are going to set a baptismal date with him tonight. :) Daniel is actually the brother of a girl named Mali who was baptized 4 months ago. He is atheist but is starting to feel something as we teach him. He is so smart- actually he is a rocket scientist! It was a miracle because we actually got him to set a date for the 21 of January. So those are the top people in our are right now. I love it so much! We are just working so hard to keep this area built up and we are loving every minute of it. I am learning so much everyday! :)

So I will get my Christmas when i am in Oslo on Thursday- we have a mission conference and it is supposed to be AMAZING! I will tell you all about it next week. :)

Well Fam, it is time for me to go. I can't wait to skype. Love you tons!

Vi Snakkes!
♥-Søster Jessica Taylor

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 32

Hi Fam!

Man, I love you guys so very much! Thank you so much for the birthday package- it was wonderful! I loved it all so much. :) You guys are the best!

So we got our first snow on Monday! It wasn't very much, but it was beautiful! But it has warmed up a little bit since and so now the city is just covered in ice... I haven't fallen yet... Knock on wood! Ha ha!

We have around 4 people in the area who are looking pretty good for baptism within the next 2 months. The mission set a goal for 100 baptisms before June of next year. It is totally possible- we just have to work super hard! I am planning to work hard in Trondheim... Oh yeah...

So transfers were announced on Saturday night and I will be heading up to Trondheim. It is in the North. It is the northern-most city for sisters and I will be there when it is the coldest and the darkest! Booyah! :)
I know my companion- her name is Sister Grass. I knew her in the MTC- she came when I was delayed. It should be really exciting.

Yesterday was an ok day. It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone in the ward. I didn't realize how many people I truly grew to love. It was super rough. A family invited us over for dinner and we ate ice cream and brownies for dessert- they totally sang to me and everything. That was so nice of them!

So there are a few things I want to tell you about:

We have been teaching a boy who is Jehovah Witness. This has been slightly difficult because their beliefs are very interesting. I have had to do a lot of studying in the Bible and church doctrine so that I can answer his questions in the best way possible. It is really cool being able to expand my knowledge of the scriptures and begin to understand more about what we really believe. I love this gospel so much!

This week we taught this Norwegian girl named Elisa. Sister Ray found her and when she did Elisa was open, but not at the same time. She told Sister Ray that she would take the book and hear where it came from, but she didn't want to meet again. We took her to the center and had an amazing teach about the Restoration. The Spirit was really strong and I called it out so that she could recognize it. After she left, she sent us a text saying that she was so grateful for the message we shared and also for the book. She then said that she just couldn't stop smiling and she was heading home to read it. This just made me realize how powerful the message of the gospel is. She will be meeting with the sisters again after Christmas and if all goes well, she will accept the invitation to be baptized. The Spirit truly has the power to change people and it is amazing to watch! :)

Well Family, this is kind of a short email... once again. Sorry! Maybe one day I will be better at it... I love you all so much and I miss you tons! Can't wait to skype in a few days! :)

Vi Snakkes!
♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 31

Hei hei Familie! Hvordan går det med dere? Det går kjempe fint med meg. Jeg savner dere så mye og det gleder meg at vi kan skype så snart!

There's some Norsk for y'all! Man, I miss you guys so much! Especially now that Christmas is coming. It is so beautiful here right now. There are Christmas lights everywhere and it is so pretty, but still no snow... It has rained quite a bit though. We are still waiting for the white stuff. It's not looking like we are going to have a white Christmas here... Crazy, huh?!

So last week I had an amazing high, but this week has been not as amazing. To be honest, it has been really stressful actually. I just feel like I am giving this all I have and yet I am not seeing the results. Our numbers aren't where they should be and I am not exactly sure what to do. It was like we put all of our efforts on getting Teya baptized and now that he is, we have nothing... Oh well. Things will get better! :)

Speaking of Teya... Oh my goodness! My joy is still full over that boy! :) I needed to work out an appointment with him on Tuesday and so I called him after nightly planning. I am going to cry just thinking about this- He began telling me how much he has changed for the better since he met me on the T-bane (subway) 2 months ago. He talked about how he can feel the Spirit guide him in the things he says and that he is just so happy. But then he asked me: "Why did you pick me?" I told him that I honestly had no idea why, just felt like I should talk to him. I told him about the scripture I had on my missionary plaque at home (Alma 29:9) and explained that I was just the instrument. He then said that he thanks God everyday for me because now he knows who he is and whose he is. He said that I am his example and he wants to be a missionary like me one day. We decided that we are going to be friends forever. :) After I got off the phone with him, I decided to look through my planner for the day that I found him. It was October 22. Sister Johnston and I were supposed to be on T-bane 5 to go visit an investigator, but there was something wrong with the sign that said which one was in the station, so we accidentally got on T-bane 3 and headed in the wrong direction. I was so disappointed because I felt like I had failed. I talked to many people on that train and only got 2 phone numbers. Here I thought that we had just wasted a ton of time on the wrong T-bane when really, I found Teya who is now baptized! I was so privileged to have been able to find him! When I realized this, I was overcome with gratitude- that God would use me as an instrument in bringing Teya to a knowledge of the gospel. I just sat there and cried and cried and cried. I thank Heavenly Father everyday for that opportunity. :)  Teya is already a fantastic member. He told me a few days later that he is going to save up some money, then go back to India to share the gospel with his family there. He also wants to travel to Salt Lake City one day. He does missionary work with us all the time and just loves bearing his testimony! Also, next Sunday, he will get the Priesthood. I am so proud of him! I wish you guys could meet him- the boys would love him tons! :) I am so happy!

On Wednesday, we had dinner at a member family's home. They invited Sister Ray and I and also a companionship of Elders. They are actually from England so it was in English... Yes! :) I love English. (I am getting worse and worse at speaking it every single day...) So, being from England, they had awesome accents and we all started speaking with one after about 15 minutes... Ha ha! They have 3 little kids and it was like a circus, but so much fun! I love being at members homes. It makes me feel almost normal. Ha ha! Umm... I don't know what else to say about that...

Last night, the Stake had a huge Christmas concert in a suburb of Oslo called Romerike. It was a beautiful meeting- they had a mini Norwegian mo-tab and orchestra. It was very impressive!

So transfers are coming up next week... I know I am moving, I just don't know where yet. It is getting really sad. I have started taking pictures with all the members and investigators so I will never forget any of them... I can't wait to be able to tell you all of my fun stories and stuff. :) I love you guys so much!

Well, this is kind of a sorry email. Maybe next week will be better... I love you tons! Thanks for all you do! :) I hope you have a great week!

Vi Snakkes!
Lots and lots of love,
Søster Jessica Taylor

P.S. Thank you for the Birthday wishes! I actually received that package earlier this week. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am not gonna lie- I opened up 2 of the presents early... I couldn't wait! It was torturous! Ha ha! I LOVE the scarf and the necklace- so beautiful! The rest is still wrapped and will be until my birthday, I hope. I can't promise anything. My self control isn't very strong... Ha ha! THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 30

Hi Family! It was so good hearing from you this week!

I am so glad that you had a good Thanksgiving. :) I have to tell you, mine was pretty awesome as well! See we celebrated on Friday with the YSA, so that was pretty fun. Sister Ray and I were asked to cook one of the 3 turkeys. That was quite an experience! We were cooped up in our apartment for about 4 1/2 hours trying to prepare and cook it. We named him Birdy. I had to reach inside of him and pull our the bag of guts. That was gross, but I survived. We were so nervous that he wasn't going to be ready in time, so we prayed that heavenly Father would sweeten the meat like he did for Lehi and Nephi when they were in the wilderness... Ha ha! He did, and everything went well. :) He was delicious! So we successfully cooked our first Thanksgiving turkey. Maybe I'll show you my skills next year... :) Ha ha! (P.S. I ate some turkey heart; it was interesting...)

So I have to tell you- my joy is completely full right now! Teya was baptized and confirmed this weekend and I have to say it was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Oh my goodness! I found this kid almost 2 months ago and he was not believing in anything, but now he has an amazing testimony and the gift of the Holy Ghost to help him in his life. I seriously feel like this kid is my brother- I love him so much! So his last week before baptism was very difficult. He wanted to invite his family and the members of the church that he went to with his sister and their family, but when he tried, they thought that he was crazy and basically told him that he wouldn't be accepted there anymore. This freaked him out big time. He told us this on Monday night. We had the elders give him a priesthood blessing and after the blessing he said that he was still getting baptized. I was super worried about him, I don't think I have ever prayed so hard for another person in my life! I just wanted him to be happy... Oh man- it was so stressful! Anyways, we were meeting with him everyday to help him prepare. So on Wednesday, we watched the long Joseph Smith movie with 2 members from the ward. We also had some ben & jerry's ice cream to share because he had never had american ice cream before. :) It was so awesome! He loved the movie, and afterwards, we had a little testimony meeting. It was amazing!!! Friday evening, we had Thanksgiving at the institute center and he was there. (Funny story about that evening- we were supposed to be able to teach him before dinner, but he didn't show up early, so I was super worried. Well, when we finally got a hold of him, he told us that he was cutting his hair for the baptism tomorrow- he wanted a new look for his special day! It was so funny!) He fit right in with all of the YSA that night. He loves the elders so much and just kept talking about his baptism the next day. He was very nervous and anxious and kept asking if I was going to be there, so before bed, I sent him a text with a chapter in the Book of Mormon to read. Saturday morning, when he got to the church, he told me that he had read it and that it pumped him right up! We got him all suited up and took some pictures. It was so hectic trying to get everything ready, but then as I look back at it, it was so peaceful. The program was beautiful. His sister and her daughter came to support him. :) Teya was so nervous before he went into the water, but he told me afterward that as soon as his foot was in the water, his nerves were gone and he just felt good! After the program was done, we gave him a gift from the mission- a nice leather triple combination. He was so excited about it! On Sunday, he came to church in a suit and looked so darn cute! He went to priesthood with the elders- I was like a proud mamma! Ha ha! Right before sacrament meeting he pulled out his nice new scriptures and asked me to hold them for him while he was getting the Holy Ghost. (It was so funny- I had asked him who he wanted to give him the Holy Ghost and who he wanted in the circle. He didn't really care who gave the blessing, but he asked if I could stand in the circle... ooops! The lesson he missed to cut his hair was the one on the priesthood... good thing that one is not necessary before baptism. Too late! Ha ha! We will be teaching that one real soon...) His blessing was so good- I took notes for him so that he could read it later. Afterwards, he was just so happy! He looked different even. I can't explain it! After church, he wanted to go do missionary work- he was in his suit and he had his backpack- the only thing he was missing was a name tag. :) As we were out n the street he told me that he felt like he could do anything! I am so happy to see him so happy! This gospel is so amazing- how it can completely change a person and just give them so much joy! I am sooooooo HAPPY!!! I never ever expected to feel this good- I cannot even begin to explain it! My heart is too big for my chest... I could just dance down the streets and sing from the mountain tops! :) (I hope that all made sense... it's a bunch of jumbled thoughts- I am too happy to focus!)     

Christmas has officially exploded all over Oslo! It is like a Christmas wonderland without the snow. :) We listen to Christmas music every morning while we are getting ready and when we walk down the streets, there are lights everywhere- it is so magical! I will try to take pictures today, but I doubt they will do it justice. Today we are going to go to a Christmas festival in the middle of the city- they have an outdoor ice skating rink in the middle of it all. It is Wonderful! We have started getting lots of invitations for Christmas from ward members, so that is super nice... I won't be in Oslo though. I can't wait to be able to skype you all! It is getting so close! Wahoo!!!! :)

Well, that's about all I've got at the moment. I'll send you some pics of the baptism and our turkey adventures. :)

Have a great week! I love you all so very much!! You're the best!

Lots and lots of love,

Søster Jessica Taylor

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 29

Hello Family!!

Oh my goodness, it is so crazy to me that it is almost Thanksgiving! Time is just flying by!

I hope you all have had a great week!! :)

I have had a really good week... we have a baptism on Saturday!!! Yahoo! :) It is for Teya- he is the one I told you about last week who had a date for December 10... However, we had zone conference this week and president told us that we need to get 20 baptisms in November, December, and January. We decided (with friendly pressure from the AP's) to invite Teya to move up his date 3 weeks and so he did! He is so amazing- I seriously love this kid! He is like my adopted little brother- can we keep him? We are the best of buds. :) He is a little jokester, but his testimony is so strong! That has been a big thing for him- having a testimony. We brought him to a youth fireside a few weeks ago, and they had one person stand up and share their testimony. He turned to me and asked what a testimony was. I told him that it was an expression of our beliefs. He then told me that it was his goal to build up his testimony. And boy has it grown since then! Last night, to review the restoration, we had him teach us about it with little pictures to help him out... It was so good! He bore such sweet testimony and the Spirit was so strong. He wants to be a missionary now so that he can share his happiness with others. :) He is inviting so many people to come to his baptism- his sister and her family, his friends, even members from the church that his sister goes to! I'll be sure to take many pictures and I'll send them home next week!

Sad news, Jacek, our Polish investigator, moved to Arendal (another city in Norway) to live with his father. This is definitely a bitter-sweet thing. We won't be able to teach him anymore, but now he will have a roof over his head and food to eat and there are missionaries in Arendal so he can continue being taught. Hopefully he will still reach his goal of being baptized on the 3rd of December.

So on Wednesday, we had zone conference. It was really, really good! I love being with lots of missionaries and President Johansen is such a fireball! Everytime he opens his mouth the Spirit is there. He has such a way of motivating us and getting us to be better missionaries. I am so grateful for him! I got to have another interview with him after the conference- I was very grateful for that. This transfer has already been kinda difficult and so he was really able to help me with how I should handle it. :)

It is still not very cold here... Everyone is just anticipating the snow. I did, however, bust out the Juicy Couture earmuffs the other day. They are fabulous!!! :) If you talk to Amy Miner anytime soon, tell her I love them!

Family, can I just tell you all how much I love 1. missionary work- it is so amazing to be able to bear testimony all of the time! I have never felt it so strong in my entire life. It makes me so very happy! 2. this gospel- for how it strengthens us in every aspect of our lives. 3. Jesus Christ and His atonement- never have I ever felt the power of the Atonement so much in my life. I watch it work in the lives of others and in myself. We can do anything It truly gives us the power to change, be better... Oh man! It makes me so happy! Greatest expression of God's love right there! :) 4. My family... hey, that's you!!! ;) I am so grateful for you. You all make me so happy! I am so grateful for all of your support and for everything you have done for me. You're amazing! I love and miss you tons and tons! I can't wait to skype you in a few weeks (less than 5!!!! Holy cow- that's so soon!) I hope you all have a great week and a happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy it for me... (Eat lots of yummy yams! Ha ha! Ouch- I just realized how much I am going to miss those... Oh well)

I love and miss you tons! Have a great Thanksgiving!! :)

Lots of love,
Søster Jessie Noelle Taylor

P.S. Yeah, elder Davis's family died when they heard that he had met THE Jessica Noel... Ha ha ha!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 28

Hello Family!

How is everything going? I love and miss you all so very much!

Oh my goodness- this has been the hardest, best week ever! I would love to tell you all a little bit about it:

First item of business... So last night, there was supposed to be a dinner for everyone at the institute center, but it didn't end up happening... Well the only problem with that was no one cared to tell us missionaries and none of us had any food. So we all raided our cupboards and made a bunch of random stuff... We ate french toast, hash browns, and chicken-potato soup... it was interesting! Well while we were cooking, Elder Davis (the one from our stake) asked me if I had ever heard the song "Jessica Noel." Of course I told him that that was where my name came from. I was floored that he had actually heard of that song... Well he proceeded to tell me that somehow he saw my full name (probably on my email) and was reminded that his family used to make fun of that song all the time... So the whole Davis family gets a kick out of my special song! Yeah, I have never been so ashamed of my awesome name. It was kind of embarrassing and pretty darn funny!

Moves were this week. I was super stressed before Sister Johnston left Oslo because I knew it would be me holding up the area with a missionary who has only been out 3 months more than me. I was freaking out to put it simply. Anyways, Wednesday- moves day came and Sister Johnston left at 6 am which meant that I had about 3 hours of personal study until Sister Ray arrived at 9. Well within that 3 hours, many missionaries came to the center to meet their new companions. There were many from my MTC district and it was so good to see them. One in particular was Elder Lillywhite. He has been in Norway 3 weeks longer than me and he is serving with a missionary that got here 2 months after him. He was freaking out worse than I was. Ha ha! President Johansen came and was interviewing the new missionaries who had just gotten here. After he had interviewed them, he pulled me aside and we had a little chat. He told me that I need to be super strong and not let the work slow down here in Oslo just because I haven't been here very long. He complimented my skills as a missionary and also my language abilities. So basically he freaked me out and smoothed it over all at the same time. Ha ha! I went back to studying with Elder Lillywhite and I just started to cry. Thank heavens for good friends!! He shared with me a scripture in D&C 121:7-8 and one in 122:7-8. I am so grateful for good friends! It made me feel so much better. Anyways... Things have been interesting. My companion is Sister Ray. She is very nice and sweet and funny. It has been a hard adjustment though. I am really just relying on the Spirit and trying to do my best. The coolest part about it is that I have found this buried faith in myself and my ability to do missionary work- I'm pretty good! :) Ha ha! I have a lot of work to do, but I have a lot of skills I didn't know I had. I love it!!!

So as far as our investigators go, it has been really good for some and kind of hard with others. For a while, I thought Ugo completely fell off the face of the planet, but we were able to talk to him and figure out that he just isn't committed enough to be baptized. Oh Man... We are still going to meet with him, but we just don't know when it will happen. He still has potential. Onward and upward... We have been teaching this kid named Teya. He is from India and has lived in Norway for 3 years. He was very very religious back in India, but when he moved here, he lost his faith. Well now he is trying to find it again. He came to church with us yesterday and ate dinner with us. He comes to almost all of the activities and reads in the Book of Mormon. His little testimony is just growing and growing! :) He made his baptismal goal for December 10- what a nice early birthday present for me! :) He is ready to just jump in that water! David is from Africa ( I have mentioned him before) will also be getting baptized on the 10th of Dec. He has a very hard situation right now. His twin sister just died in a car accident in Belgium and she was his last living family member... So now he is all alone. He was at the center earlier and so we turned on the testaments for him in French because he doesn't speak very much English. We walked past him towards the end of the movie and he had tears running down his face- it was so sad! After the movie was over, we asked him if he wanted a blessing and he did. We got the elders and they gave him such a sweet blessing! I am so grateful for the gospel! Anyways, Jacek- He is a walking missionary miracle! So we have just been barely teaching him maybe once a week, but in the last couple of days we have seen him turn completely around. So we met with him on Wednesday, and he had lost his apartment because he couldn't pay the rent and he couldn't find a job, so basically we just had a big pep talk. The next day, we met with him again. This time, we talked to him about baptism and what it means. We challenged him to set a baptismal date-goal. We had a girl named Liv come with us. (She was baptized about the same time that I got to Norway and she is so stinking amazing!) So Jacek told us that he had read in the Book of Mormon the night before and as he was praying, he had the weirdest, strongest feeling come over him. He told us that he was disturbed by it because he had never felt it before. After about an hour of pondering, he came to the conclusion that it was God. Liv explained her situation with reading and praying and it helped understand that God speaks to us in ways that we can recognize.  We took the opportunity to testify and seriously, the Spirit was the strongest I have ever felt it thus far on my mission. It was so strong that we all just sat there for a couple minutes in complete silence- just basking in it! IT WAS SOOOO GOOOOOD!!! And even though he was super depressed about his situation, he left there in peace and happiness because he had truly felt God's love. We met with him the next day and he had lost his light a little bit, but we got talking again. We shared with him the story of when Christ was baptized and how God spoke saying, " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." We asked him what he thought God would say if he got baptized. He said "Probably the same thing." He began to cry and told us that he would like to set a date for 3 months away. We asked him why so far out? He told us that 3 was his lucky number. Then we thought of this promise that we have been given as missionaries that if we teach a person 3 times a week for 3 weeks, 30 minutes each time, they will be ready for baptism. (Also, if he committed to that, he could be baptized on December 3rd). How perfect, right??? God loves this kid so much! He accepted and is preparing rapidly! Can I just tell you- I have never felt so much love for random people in my entire life! I love these people so much! They all mean the world to me and I love being able to see how much God loves them too- it is incredible! I love being a missionary!!! :)

Well family, I hope you enjoy this email. I enjoyed writing it! I love and miss you all so very much! I hope you all have a great week. :)

Vi Snakkes!

Lots and lots of love,
Søster Jessica Taylor  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 27 - 6 months

Hi Fam!

I love you all so very much! It sounds like you all had a good week. :) I absolutely love reading your emails and I am so grateful for you letters!

So this week has been a good one. We have been meeting a lot of cool people and we have also had a lot of time to contact. It has been Sister Johnston and my goal to build up our area before Sister Ray, my new companion, gets here on Wednesday. Hopefully it works! (I guess we will find out!) There are three things I want to tell you about:

1. Ugo didn't get baptized. He was worried about being able to keep all the commandments for the rest of his life and so we decided to give him 2 weeks to decide if it's really what he wants and is able to do. Hopefully, he will be able to really feel the Spirit as he keeps the commandments and receives the blessings promised! If all goes well, he will be baptized on Nov 19. (Can you believe that is only 2 weeks away??? Time is flying!)

2. Oh my goodness! This is so cool! We were out contacting the other night (well it was only about 4, but it was really dark like at 7 or 8) and we had said that we were going to talk to every person we past. When we first got out on the street, there weren't too many people out, but then I saw this guy and went up to talk to him. I couldn't really see what he looked like at first- it was very dark- so as I got closer, I saw that he had piercings all over his face and tatoos everywhere. I mean, he didn't just have an eyebrow piercing and a nose piercing, but he had 2 nose, an eyebrow, his ears, and his whole bottom lip was covered in rings. He looked like a skeleton! I regeret my first thought, but it was this guy is never gonna say yes... but it was too late to turn back, so I had to continue with the contact. Much to our surprise, he spoke english, was from Germany, and wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon. And so we took Alex (that's his name) to the center and taught him the Restoration. He had many good question and the Spirit was definitely there. As we taught him, it was very hard to not look at his piercings and tatoos, but as we were with him longer, I started to imagine how he would look as the Gospel began changing him- lots of holes and old body art, but someone who really took the Atonement and let it change them. This is a prime example of the fact that you cannot judge a book by it's cover. Even though he looks very different than me, I know he is a child of God and that God loves him just as much as he loves me.  :) This guy is super cool! He's a keeper! :)

3.  So last email, I talked a little bit about how we are studying the Atonement a lot. Well, we have noticed this super cool pattern as we teach people the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all know it, but it is something that I, for one, have taken advantage of. It is the 5 simple steps of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. The thing we have noticed that is super powerful is faith unto repentance. Every single time we teach faith and repentance, the Spirit is so strong. For example, we taught this guy named James, from Sudan, the other day and we were teaching him this lesson. We shared a scripture in Alma 7:11-15 and talked about Jesus and what He did for us, why He did it, and then how we can use what He did. The second we made the transition in the lesson between faith and repentance, James stopped us and said that he was feeling something unlike anything he had ever felt before and that it was very very good. We explained that it was the Spirit testifying to him that what we were saying was true, then we bore testimony of Jesus Christ. It was incredible! The fact that we can gain forgiveness for our sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most amazing thing to me. It is the remedy for any problem. I read in Preach my gospel that repentance is what heals us spiritually. It is sad that the word repentance often puts such a bad taste in people's mouths when it is the very means that we are able to come closer to God! No change in attitude, behavior, or character is possible without the Atonement, and repentance is the means that we accomplish. Man! I love this gospel so much! I love sharing it! I love the opportunity I have to change-to be better through the power of the Atonement and the process of repentance! GREATEST BLESSING EVER!!! :)

Well, I just spilled my guts... I hope you enjoyed it. :) I love you all so very much and I miss you too! Have a great week and we will talk to you in 1 more!

Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 26

Hello Family!

I love you all so very much! I hope everything is going well for all of you. Thank you so much for the emails, they made my day! :)

Oh and Happy Halloween! It's not so fun without you all... But we may carve pumpkins today. Who knows. Ha ha!

So transfers will be announced a week from yesterday. However, we got the inside scoop last night from President Johansen. :) It was so nice- President and Sister Johansen invited Sister Johnston and I, and 2 new converts named Liv and Elizabeth to come over for dinner and waffles (typical Norwegian dessert). So it was girls night with the President and it was so fun! It was my first time at the mission home so it was cool to be there. We just ate and talked- it was so nice! It was there that we asked President Johansen what was going on with transfers- the pressure was killing us! We figured it would be me leaving to Bergen and Sister Johnston staying here to finish out her time, but I am actually staying and Sister Johnston is going to close Stavanger. So I will be serving with Sister Ray. I knew here in the MTC and she came out just 2 months before me... eek!! That is so scary- 2 very new missionaries! Oh man! I'm super nervous... Oh well, I am learning so much right now and my language skills are improving fairly quickly, so we will see how it goes. :)

There were 2 baptisms this weekend in the district so that was really awesome! Plus, Ugo our investigator, should be getting baptized this coming weekend! Yay!! Finally :) He met with missionaries 8 months ago, but they dropped him because he is hard to meet with, but we found him and he was still interested so we started teaching him. He has such a strong testimony and it is so cool to hear him share it. :) It's going to be so awesome! He told us that his mom is really against it, but he feels ready more now than he has in the past 8 months of meeting with missionaries. The Church is true!

So on tuesday, we busted out the thermals and stuff. It is so warm now! Ha ha! We haven't quite hit the boots and coats yet, so that is a plus. :)

Can I just tell you, I love being a missionary! I am learning so much about the gospel and it is helping me so much! One thing that Sister Johnston and I have been focusing on is really centering our teaching on Jesus Christ and His atonement. Before we would try to teach the Atonetment, but it just seemed kind of distant for our investigators, like they know it happened, but they don't know how it applies to them. That is why we are evolving our strategy. As we have been studying, we realize more and more how central the Atonement really is. It is amazing! I am so grateful for the Atonement in my life. It really is the greatest expression of God's love for us! It am so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, because that is the way that we can fully access the power that the Atonement can bring into our lives. Like this week I had an experience where I was feeling super down on myself. We read this scripture in Alma 7:15 about laying everything aside and that if we have faith in Christ, it can be taken away. So one night, I knelt down to pray and told Heavenly Father what was in my heart. I told him exactly what was bothering me. I told him that I had faith in Christ and that I knew through him, everything could be taken away. So before i could even ask, all of it was gone. All of the hurt was gone; I could remember the experiences that had gotten me down, but they didn't sting like they did before and all I could think about was how much God loves me exactly the way I am. That was only possible through the Atonement. So AMAZING!!!

Well, that's all I've got for this week... Sorry! I love you all so very much! I hope you have a great week!!!

Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 25

Hello Family! It is so good to hear from you all! :)

This week has been a very good week compared to last. We are still missing our old baptismal candidates, but we are gaining some more. For example, we met a man named Hamid a couple of weeks ago. He is from Italy and speaks only a little bit of Norsk and a whole lot of Italian. (and NO english) As we teach him, we have a member named Arben come with us. (I'll give you his story real quick- he is from Albania, but lived in Italy for a lot of years. He was actually a member of the Mafia there, so he is filthy rich! Ha ha! But He met the missionaries a year ago and couldn't speak english or norsk, so they taught him through google translate! He was baptized on my birthday last year and is so strong in the church. He is amazing!) Arben speaks Italian and he comes to translate. The coolest thing was that the 1st time we met, we taught him the Restoration very, very simply. The 2nd, we needed to review it just because translation is hard because Arben is still trying to learn English. So we decided to watch the Restoration movie in Italian. After, he was saying "I want to know more. Teach me something new. I need to be able to tell my family more about this!" It was super cool. We actually gave him the movie and made another appointment. When we met with him last, we asked him if had been reading the Book of Mormon. He told us that sometimes it is really hard for him to read because he is tired and he works a lot. We were disappointed, but then he continued to tell us that when he was too tired to read, he would watch the Restoration movie. He loves it! He knows that Joseph Smith really was called as a prophet! Even though there is sucha huge language barrier, the Spirit is speaking stronger! He set his baptismal date for the middle of November. He is a gem!!! :)  
On Thursday and Friday, we had splits. Sister Johnston went to Stavanger, and a Sister Mergens came from Trondheim to serve with me. It was a lot of fun. It was nice to switch things up a little bit. It's fun to see how other missionaries do things and it's a good way to learn. So I got to ride with President and Sister Johansen to the airport to pick up my companion. It's about a 30-45 minute drive, so we had a nice talk. I really love them so much! They work so hard to help us and make us better instruments in the Lord's hands. So it was great to get my companion back. I didn't realize how much I'd miss her til she was gone. Sister Johnston is helping me a lot. She teaches me a lot every day. The cool thing was that even though it was just 2 days apart, she noticed a change in me. Lately, I have had a hard time with finding out exactly who I am (as in what I like about myself, my talents, my gifts, etc). So she would ask me 5 or 6 times a day something that I like about myself. At first it was difficult, but when she got back, I could answer her quickly and easily. I was too busy comparing myself to everyone else that I wasn't recognizing my own strengths. So she is helping me overcome that. :) She is helping me prepare to be an old missionary. I'll explain what I mean by that- so in there are 10 sisters herein Norway right now. 4 of them have been here for 15 months. 2 got here 2 months before I did, and then there is me and Sister Butterfield who got here almost 3 months ago, then there are the 2 that got here after us. So the 4 old ones will be leaving in mid-December, which means the oldest sister missionaries will be the 2 before Sister Butterfield and I... Eeekk! That is so scary! Anyways, Sister Johnston is helping me prep up by making me take more control to build up my confidence... it's pretty shaky right now... Ha ha! So that is what's going on here.

Ok- I had a super cool experience last night that I have to tell you about! So earlier this week, I was studying in the book of Mosiah. I was studying the story of Abinadi and how he was crying repentance to the people out of sincere love for them. Well, I kind of put that study on the back burner for a while. So last night, we were teaching this guy named Jacek. He is having a really hard time with life. He is from Poland, he is having a super hard time finding work, and because of this, he will potentially lose his home. He wants to change his life, but it's almost like it's hard enough just hanging on to his sanity at the moment. So we were teaching him last night. Lately, all of our teaches are just like pep talks and trying to help him change his attitude. Last night started out the same... it got to the point where Sister Johnston just got very quiet and it was like there was nothing more to be said. Then I thought of Abinadi crying repentance to the people. I looked at him and I said, "Jacek, you need to repent." What are you saying??? I thought to myself; I was afraid he would get mad or something. However, I proceeded to tell him that when he lets go of his guilt and the things have have happened in the past, he will be able to change his life for the better. I bore my testimony of the cleansing power of the Atonement and how much it can make us better and more happy. I was crying repentance just like Abinadi! It was so stinking cool! It was in the process of bearing testimony of the Atonement that I realized how powerful it really is. Anyways, I was on fire. Ha ha! I told him to go home that night and think of one thing that he wanted to be rid of, to get down on his knees and ask Heavenly Father for forgiveness until the guilt is gone. He said he would. Then Sister Johnston invited him to say a kneeling prayer with us to close. Well Jacek would not kneel, not if his life depended on it. So I told him about the Children of Israel who began to worship idols and were plagued. They were told that if they just looked at Moses' staff they would be healed, but because of their pride they wouldn't and died. That wasn't enough... Then I told him to think about Jesus Christ, when he was taking upon him our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, He kneeled before God... That did it. He was down on his knees and he even said the prayer. Man! It is amazing to watch people, as they feel the Spirit, completely change their perspective. And it's even cooler being the instrument that God uses to help them feel it! I love being a missionary!

Well family, that is about all I've got for this week. Please send my love to the family... I hope everything goes ok with Russell... Man, I'm super worried about him! That is so scary. Have a safe trip up there. I will miss Nevada Day! Just know I'll be celebrating in my heart... Ha ha ha! I love you all so very much! Have a great week!

Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 24

Hi Family! I love you all so very much! I hope everything is going well for all of you. I miss you all tons!

So last week, we had zone conference. It was in a city called Mås. So this city is about an hour away from Oslo. It is a beautiful city right on the ocean. However, this beautiful little city has a horrible problem- it stinks SO BAD!!! They have several factories there- a newspaper factory, a glue factory, etc... So when we first pulled into this cute little town, we were all admiring it, then the STINK hit us like a ton of bricks. I thought I was going to puke! Ha ha ha ha! Anyways, enough about smelly cities. The conference was fantastic! We learned so much about how to really meet the needs of our investigators and we actually got to practice teaching native norwegians, so that was an awesome experience (Normally they only practice on each other). For lunch, this member lady had lunch made for the whole zone! It was authentic Indian food and it took her 3 days to prepare all of it! She was probably one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She has such a strong testimony and she just loves the missionaries- I think she wishes she was one. :) Anyways, after the conference, the ward had this amazing activity planned for as many members were available to go on splits with the elders. So they stormed this little city of 20,000 people! It was super cool. :) The super cool thing was the members thought it was the coolest thing that there were sister missionaries there, so we were like famous! Everyone wanted to talk to us. :) So they were having their young women/young men activity and we were the main event! They had us act as investigators and they paired them up and made them share about their beliefs to us. They were awesome kids! Afterwards, they had typical Mås desserts, including hot dog wrapped in waffle... Super weird!

This week has been really hard. At this point, all of our baptismal dates have fallen through. We don't have anything to show for all of the hard work we have been doing. Ugo, from Nigeria, was super positive and has a baptismal date for Saturday, but we lost contact with him last week and he won't answer our calls. Lidija, from Lithuania, was doing really well, but lost her job and decided to go back to Lithuania. She might come back, but we don't know when. This is super upsetting. Every one of our investigators is depressed or not willing to keep commitments and we don't know how to help them get passed the difficulties in their lives and turn to the Savior. Oh man! Missionary work is hard...

On a happier note, David (from the Ivory Coast who speaks Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, but not English or Norwegian. Yeah, there is a slight language barrier.) is doing quite well! He can't communicate, but he can progress and keep commitments and we even found a couple of members who speak his languages and that makes it even better! He told us that he even had a dream about the Book of Mormon and he knows its true. It's just a matter of time before he is baptized... Knock on wood... :)

So Sister Johnston, my companion, is a really good missionary. She is helping become a better person. It's crazy to me because I thought I knew who I was before I left, but turns out, I really don't. It's been super hard to realize that. I have been comparing myself to others and I determine my success and talents on what other people do or say... That is so wrong and a hard thing to overcome. There are so many things I need to change about myself. Good thing I am living in the refiners fire! Through the Atonement, we can overcome all of our weaknesses. I am SOOO grateful for that. I hope I come home a better person than I left! :)

Oh Family, I love you so very much! I hope you have a great week and I am so grateful for the package you sent me!  I miss you so much and, again I love you tons and tons!

Until next week,
Søster Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week 23

Hello, hello!!
How are things going? I love and miss you all tons!
So this email is going to be kinda short... Sorry! But I really want to tell you about a cool experience that we had this week.
The other day we were out contacting near National Theater. This was odd because we haven't needed to contact for a while because we have so many teaches all the time. But anyways, we found this Norwegian girl who wanted to hear a little bit more about the Church, so we sat down on a bench and gave her a 5 minute teach about the Restoration. Afterwards, we gave her the Book of Mormon and let her read the promise in Moroni 10:4-5. As she read it, she stopped right in the middle and told us an experience that she had just had. About a week ago, a random man came up to her and asked her if she believed in Jesus Christ. She told him that she was raised as a Catholic and that she knew he existed. Then, he just walked away. Afterwards, she felt really bad because she does believe in Christ, and she should stand up for that. well a few days later, the same guys came up to her and asked the same question. This time, she said yes. Well 2 days later, she was feeling really lost and she decided to type a letter to God. She asked him to give her direction and show her the truth... 3 days later she met us on the street. So when she read the promise that said "if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." Having Faith in Jesus Christ. It was when she read that, that she knew we were sharing something important and that God had placed us on the same path. She took the Book of Mormon home and began reading and we are going to meet with her again on Tuesday.
It is experiences like these that make me LOVE being a missionary. I have never felt anything like this! It is incredible being able to be led like this to help those people who God has prepared. There is a scripture that talks about how angels are preparing people to hear the gospel and it is so true! I love this work!!!
I love you all so much and I hope things are going well! Miss you tons. Have a great week!!!
Lots and lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 22

                         This is the building where the Nobel Peace Prize is given out each year.

Hi Family!!!
I hope things are going well with all of you! I miss you all lots and lots! :) Can you believe that it will be 5 months tomorrow??? That is so crazy! Anyways... How are things? What's new? Tell me EVERYTHING!!! :) I love hearing from you!
So this week has been really good.
Monday, we had a Zone sand volleyball tournament complete with rain and hotdogs. :) Then Sister Johnston and I did a little shopping. She bought Harry Potter in Norsk and I got a Minne Book. (It's a memory book that people write in and you can put pictures in to remember everyone and everything. Everyone has one. ha ha!) It was a good P-day.
So here is my funny story for the week- it's not really a story, but it's more of a daily occurance. ha ha! I am becoming more and more like mom the longer I am away... So since we have been so busy teaching people lately, my subconscious doesn't ever take a break... I have been waking up in the middle of the night to teach investigators... well to say waking up to teach would be pushing the truth- I am dreaming that I am teaching investigators, but I usually sit up in bed and start teaching. Then I realize that it's the middle of the night and lay back down. It's so bad!!! Luckily Sister Johnston sleeps like a rock and has never heard me! Ha ha ha!
So Tuesday, we were fed a Norwegian National meal of cabbage and lamb soup. It was... interesting, to say the least... Ha ha!
I will tell you about my favorite investigators right now:
Arnoldas- I found him last week on the street. The crazy thing was- he didn't have a phone with him and he didn't remember his number. So I gave him our card and never thought we'd hear from him again. Well, he called! He actaully lives 2 floors above the center. We teach him every single day! He is actually from Lithuania and, man he is awesome! He is so funny and just loves being here- it's like his basement! Even when we are not teaching him, he comes to play the piano and pool and stuff. He reads the Book of Mormon every day and watched almost all of conference with us. He claims not to have an answer of truth yet, but he told us yesterday that he thinks it'd be cool to serve a mission! ha ha! He is awesome! He is totally getting baptized if I have to throw him in the water myself! (But I won't because he will jump in when the time comes. :) )
Lidija- She is also from Lithuania (Kim Bowman would be proud :) ) She is so sweet! She doesn't like to talk a lot because herenglish isn't very good, but she understands a lot. She has had a really hard life. In fact, while we were teaching the plan of Salvation, she kept asking us why this life is so hard and if God really love us, why would we have to suffer like this. We focused on God and asked her to pray to feel His love. Oh man, she did and she KNOWS He loves her. But we still weren't over the "why is life so hard" question. We were teaching her the other day, and she broke down and told us that her parents neglected her and she never felt love from them. Her father left and her mother was never there. She was so angery about her situation and just cried because she feels like no one loves her. My heart Broke! We both shared our testimonies of God's plan and His undying love for his children. Man... She just needs to understand the infinite power of the Atonement. So we are trying to teach her. It's gonna change her life!! :)
So the Lithuanians are my favorite. :) I just want to pack these 2 up and take them home with me! This work is incredible!
Hmmm... What else...? I think that is about it. Life is super duper busy, but nothing too exciting is going on. Here are a few pictures of randomness...
Family, you are amazing! I love you all! I love this work! I love this country! I love life! :)
Oh yeah! General conference! It was SOOOOO GOOD, right? I loved it so much! So we actually got to watch all four sessions. And most of them at the same time as you! Last night, we had permission to stay up til midnight to watch the Sunday afternoon session. So even though I am on the other side of the world, I watched the prophet speak at the same time as you! Sweetness! :) What were your favorite talks???
Well, I gotta go cut some elders' hair (4 to be exact) Should be fun! Have a fantastic week! I love and miss you all! Vi snakkes!
Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Monday, September 26, 2011

Week 21

Hello everyone!!!

I love you all so much! I am so excited to be able to email you all today- one of my favorite parts of the week! :)

So how are things? How is everybody doing? What is new? School, work, play? Tell me EVERYTHING!!! Ha ha ha!

Well it is sad, but I don't have ton to say today. I'm not going to lie- this week has been somewhat of a blur... We have been so busy and I LOVE IT!!! So here is the thing- Oslo is like the South America of Norway. We are so booked with people who are interested to learn more that we barely have time to contact! I don't know how we are finding people, but they just keep coming! There are not enough hours in the day to meet with everyone. We have even started getting 2 female members to come with us so that we can go on splits. I love this work! Our baptismal candidates are still doing well. We are worried about 2 of them not making their dates, so we might have to push them out a bit, but they're still progressing in the right direction.

Family, I am SOOOO happy here!!! This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done! I love studying the gospel every morning. I love talking to random people no matter how bad or good my Norwegian is that day. I love watching the Spirit eat people up to the point that they will turn their life around to follow Jesus Christ. This is experience is unlike anything. The funny thing is is that normally when I email you, I get tears in my eyes from missing you, but today, I tear up just thinking about how much I love this work.... Don't get me wrong- I still miss you like crazy! I just KNOW this is where I am supposed to be- not matter my insecurities, my weaknesses, my whatever- Heavenly Father needs me right here, right now and I wouldn't have it any other way! This is making me into a better person and I can't wait to share with you who I hope to become after this experience! :)

Like I said, I don't have a lot of time, but I will tell you about one very very cute young african man we
found this week. We were waiting for an appointment down town in the city so we started talking with people around us while we were waiting. Sister Johnston stopped a black
man who didn't speak much english and tried to communicate with him.She planned a time we could meet again. We met again on Saturday to give him a book of mormon but we
couldn't really teach him because he couldn't understand so we decided we would have to teach him with a member in the ward who could translate. We invited him to church and showed him how to use the public transportation and yesterday he came to all three hours of church. While he was there he handed me a paper that he had written in Italian and told us to translate it. So...that's what we did. We typed it up on Google translate and although it wasn't a perfect translation you get a pretty good idea of what he is talking about. Here is what he wrote:
I think the solidarity and a deposit in a bank that grows more and
more, and that in any moment of our lives and always ready to be
received with great interest. I say this to my life experience, and
also to have found in the word of god. In fact I remember in the few
years that I lived with my mother, her immense generosity in giving
and in giving to others without expecting anything in return. In
reality she was accumulating so that one day that love would be poured
over me. When I became an orphan of both parents I began to travel. To
every place I went I always found that famous bank account ready for
me. love. In short, all the people I have met so far have always
welcomed me with love not even knowing me. It has been as if the love
that my mother has distributed in her short life, has generated so
much love to help me now by myself when I have more needs. So I think
you should always love one another because this love will not be lost,
but will seed for another love that will travel the world, and I hope
other people in the world who suffer from hunger, loneliness, cold ...
can find the same peace that I have found.

This is missionary work- man... Words cannot describe how I feel about the people here. Yeah, they are super rude sometimes. Yeah, I cry and I hurt when things are hard. Yeah, I feel stupid sometimes. Yeah, people look down on us. But, We read this talk on Missionary work and the Atonement, and we learned that right now, we are walking with the Savior because we are doing His work. We are helping people come unto Him and find joy that you just can't find anywhere else. This is heaven on earth! :)

Well, like I said, this is not going to be very long, but I hope you all know how much I love you! You mean the world to me and I really do miss you like crazy! Keep being amazing and try to help the missionaries out as much as possible- it's tough when the members don't help, but it's AMAZING when the members and the missionaries work together! Can't wait to talk to you next week! Have a fantastic week, fam!

Lots and lots of Love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 20

Hello again! I hope everything is going well at home. :) Did you all have a good week? I just love hearing from everyone- it makes my whole week! Thank you so much for keeping our investigators in your prayers- it means so much to me!
So this week has been one with many ups and downs.
We started out good- teaching lots of people, meeting with members, having investigators come to activities, Awesome!
Sister Johnston was having a hard time deciding how to do her essay for pharmacy school, so we fasted for her on Tuesday. It was a good bonding experience, of sorts. We had a nice feast of chicken tacos afterward.
The Boyces came to visit- that was so awesome! It wasn't upsetting at all- it was nice to see familiar faces. :) We did talk for about 10 minutes and it was really nice. They had a couple of friends with them and their last name was Pulsipher- don't worry, we're related! They came form Zera Pulsipher's brother, Daniel. Super cool connection! :)
We had specialized training with President and Sister Johansen and it was so good! They talked alot about obedience. Not just following the rules-obedience, but PERFECT obedience. Obedience brings blessing, but perfect obedience brings miracles. It was good because it caused us to look at how we are living and make sure that we are following every rule perfectly. They also talked about the tree of life and the fruit that Lehi ate. We all know that it represents the love of God, but what does that mean? How has He showed His love? Through the Atonement! So they talked about what it means to partake of the fruit and how special it truly is. I just love learning about the Atonement and trying to apply it more and more into my life. It truly is incredible! We could study it every day of our lives and still never fully understand its infinite capacity. Oh man- it gives me the chills!!! God love us so much! :)
We had some really good teaches with Ugo and Collins on the Plan of Salvation. They both had awesome spiritual experiences during the teaches. Sad part is, I think we will have to push their baptismal dates back because we are not able to meet with them as often as we should.
Good and bad with our baptismal candidates. I'll start with the bad- we lost 2 this week. Rachel wouldn't answer our calls for 3 days, then on Wednesday, she text us and told us that it wasn't working out for her. Sad. :,( We lost Charlie on Wednesday too. His story is a little different. Wednesday morning, during our studies, I got a text from him that said that he wanted to get to know me better... Bad news. We explained that that could never happen, but that we would love to continue to help him, but we neer heard back from him... I felt really bad about Rachel, but not so much about Charlie- that's just awkward.... Good news- we got 2 more baptismal dates to replace them and these 2 are even more golden! 
Javid- He is originally from Afghanistan. He didn't like being a muslim, so he was baptized into Christianity and now wants to find the truth. He told us that he felt led to meet with us! He has a date for the 15. 
Ephraim- He is from... I actually don't know where he is from. We met him on the street on Saturday and invited him to church. He came and the program was actually about the Book of Mormon, so it was perfect! He asked me after where he could find that book, so we met with him, gave him a copy and set a date for baptism! He loves it already! :)
So we are teaching this other guy that Sister Johnston met on the street. His name is Jacek.He is from Poland. She said that when she met with him, he was swearing like a sailor, saying that religion was .... bad... Ha ha! But for some odd reason, he came to meet with us. We had a good first teach. He came to church yesterday, and after, he met with us at the center. We invited him to be baptized, but he didn't feel ready to make that kind of commitment. Funny part- He actually didn't want to leave the center because he felt so good here. (He had been here for 2 hours!) We explained that it was the Spirit and that if he got baptized, he could have that feeling all the time. It was so cool! I see good things coming from him! :) 
We had an awesome opportunity to help a young nonmember family move. We were invited by her member neighbors to help ;) We are so gonna teach her and her family! It was cool because Norwegians DO NOT hug, but she totally hugged us before we left! Good sign... :)
Well that's the good stuff, now I'll tell you the not so good...
So we had a dinner appointment with a memberthis week. Her name is Tatiana and she is from Russian. I lke her. :) So she always cooks dinner for the 30+ single adult institute on Tuesday nights. Well on Tuesday, she made a fish salad. (I know that doesn't sound like important info, but just wait.) We went to her home on wednesday and she had made fish soup... So I was like, "Ok, I can do this... I ate fish last week- I have the gift of tongues" Well then she proceded to tell us that it was the leftover fish from institute, and that all that was left was the fishheads! Oh man!!!! I was like, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" She continued telling us how difficult it was to pull all the meat out from around the bones, so if we found any, we could just spit them out on a plate. Shoot me now! I was ill! It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I was holding back gags... Barf! Worst food experience yet. Period.
I probably had the hardest couple of days since I've been out on my mission. Studying about pride and praying for humility is a sure way to knock you down flat. It makes you realize how dependant you are on Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. It makes you appreciate small things, like prayer, repentance, and the Sacrament. Anything to get us closer to the Spirit. It's a refining process. Getting broken down in order to be rebuilt into something better... over and over again until all the kinks are worked out and we are perfect. I have a LONG way to go! So I guess that isn't all bad. There is a lot of good with it, with becoming a better person, with learning and growing. I am so grateful for the Atonement, because it is through its cleansing power that we can improve and become more like Christ!   
Well that's all the bad. Ha ha ha! Oh family, You're the best! I love you so much. You are always in my prayers!!! Have a great week!
Vi Snakkes!
Lots and lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week 19

Hello again! Another week has come and gone. How are things? 

What a week! It has been really hard and really good all at the same time. Met some cool people. Making lots of friends. Was asked on a date. Recognized a lot of things I need to work on as a person. Cried a few times. Felt the power of the Atonement strengthen me. Ate fish for the first time. Yes, I ate fish. And I liked it. :) So we have a member who just moved here not to long ago from Provo, but he's originally from Taiwan, and he invited us to dinner. Oh my goodness!!! Chinese heaven! We ate with Chop sticks and he made 5 or 6 different dishes and one of them was fish. we didn't know what kind because he doesn't speak Norwegian yet. IT WAS DELICIOUS! ha ha! that is the gift of tongues! :)

Something scary is happening here... winter is on its way. That days are getting shorter and it's getting colder and colder.... AHHHH! I'm nervous! Good thing there are about 12 big coats in our apartment. We are prepared! It has been raining a lot. But not normal rain. Like down pour, rain. That's lots of fun. 

I won't be getting hit by trikks this month because they're re-doing their tracks. So it's just buses for now. I'm safe! :) 

So I have to say, this week has been one of many miracles! What I will tell you will blow your minds! (well, maybe not. we'll see. he he!) Well it was Sister Johnston and my first week together as companions, and we TORE OSLO UP!!! We don't really have time to contact, because we are in teaches all day, everyday. We are meeting with some really prepared people and it has been incredible to see their progress! Ready for the big news? We got 5, yes FIVE baptismal commitments this week! That is nuts!!! I will tell you about these amazingly prepared people:

1. Rachel- she is from Taiwan and has lived in Norway for a few years. I met her with Sister Stevens. She speaks English which is nice for me and she speaks mandarin so we gave her the book in Chinese. She didn't have a specific belief in God when we met her, but she is beginning to form a relationship with Him. When we taught her the Plan of Salvation, she was so excited about the Premortal Life and when we talked about the purpose of life and that we need to follow Christ, she was all for it. She has the goal to be baptized on October 24.

2. Piter- He is a Norwegian and is so funny! He talks so fast so sometimes I have a hard time understanding, but he is so cool! He is not very religious, but he wants to find the truth. The funniest part about him is that he has only read 2 books all the way through in his whole life, but now he is going on 3 with the Book of Mormon. He is awesome! He has the goal to be baptized on October 15.

3. Ugo- He is from Nigeria and had met with the missionaries 8 months ago, but he was never baptized. It was so funny because he always comes to the center to play on the computers and for family home evening so we just always thought he was a member. Well one day Sister J was talking to him and realized that he was not baptized. She asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said 'Sure!' So now we are teaching him all over again. The cool thing with him is that he already has a testimony, he just didn't understand why he needed to be baptized. So we are working on it. He will be baptized on October 8.

4. Collins- He is from Africa as well. The cool thing about him is that Sister Steven taught him before I came, but he wasn't interested. So right before she left, she invited him to come to the center and meet because it would be her last time to see him. (She guilted him into coming ;) he he!) The coolest part was that the teach we had was so strong and he just needed that spiritual push. Now he is reading in the Book of Mormon and he always comes with good questions and his testimony is growing. He had the goal to be baptized on the 8th of October.

5. Charlie- I met him the first week I was here. He is also from Africa. He was really flaky at first, so we dropped him. Yesterday, on my way to church he called me. He had seen us walking and decided to say hi. So I told him I would call him back later. Well I did and we met last night. He really wants a stronger relationship with God and he wants to know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet, so we invited him to begin reading in the Book of Mormon again. He is so cool :) He has a goal to be baptized on the 8th as well. 

WOW!!! I love these people! I love all the people we are working with! It just makes me so happy. :)  We are also teaching some really cool people who, if they just keep trucking along, will have baptismal dates as well. I won't bore you with all of my stories and profiles on people. :) 

I will tell you this cool story though. So at 9pm , we always take 30 minutes plan for the next day. Well on Friday night, we looked wt our planners, and we had 0 appointments. Ouch. A full week to nothing.... We began with a prayer, of course. (We need Heavenly Father to guide everything we do, or we would never get anything done!) well as we planned, we were calling people and sending texts and trying to figure out what we could do to fill it up. By 9:30, our day was completely filled with appointments. We had someone booked for a teach every hour the whole day. It was so cool!!! I love little miracles. :)  

So we set up a new activity for ward members and investigators. We play soccer on Saturday mornings. We did it for the first time on Saturday and it was a blast! It was the prefect day- sunny, nice breeze- perfect! 

Mia, the girl in the wheel chair who just got baptized, gave her first talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday! I was so proud of her. She did a great job! She spoke about her experience with finding the church and bore her sweet testimony. I think she is going to come out contacting with us soon!  
I love being a missionary!    

I've learned lots this week as far as scripture study goes. I read Jacob 4 which is an incredible chapter in the Book of Mormon! I also read in Enos. Wow- now that is a great book! It amazed me most how his thought process led his prayer. As soon as he received a remission of his sins, he immediately thought of his bretheren, the Nephites and their salvation. Then the Lamanites. Then the records of his people. Because of his faith, the Lord covenanted with Enos that He would take care of things. Oh man! I wish I had that kind of faith! I will work on it. :)    

Well family, I keep trying to think of things to tell you, but I'm out of stories. Sorry... :( I love you all so much and I am so grateful for everything you do! Keep being amazing!

Lots of love,
Sister Jessica Taylor  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Week 18

Another week just flies by! I can't believe it... Can you believe I have already been out for 4 months and a day??? It's even crazier that I have been in Norway for over 6 weeks!
So we just went through transfers. I am still in Oslo. The only thing that changes was that Sister Stevens moved to Bergen and I have a new companion who came from Trondheim (the most Northern city for sisters). Her name is Sister Johnston. She is from, guess... Centerville, UT! We were in the same 6th grade class! Mr. Volmar- eeek!! Ha ha ha! It's kinda weird. She is a super hard worker. It's funny because she is really good at the language, but new to Oslo and I am pretty good in Oslo, but not so much in the Language- we make the perfect pair! :) However, the language is definitely coming. In church yesterday, I understood most of what was being spoken and I was so happy! Of course, there were a few times where I got a little lost, but it honestly suprised me! :)
We were able to go visit Per and Margaretta Jacobsen again. (They are the older couple who Sister Stevens and I visited one of my first weeks in the land). I love them so much! They are 2 of the greatest people i have ever met! She made some yummy meat balls and we ate them with cranberry jam. Little different, but super delicious! They have the most amazing view from their home outside of Oslo and what great conversations we have together! We spoke a lot more Norsk this time around. :) They are great examples of pioneers in Norge!
We are teaching some really cool people right now and I am so happy about it! I will tell you a little about a few of them:
1. George- I found him on splits with Sister Fredrickson. He is from Romania and was here working to earn money for his girlfriend and son back at home. It was so sad- he didn't have a place to stay- he was collecting bottles and taking them to the recycling place where they give 1 kroner for every bottle. That was what he did to make money. He was very receptive when we told him about the restoration and he met with us everyday for 1 1/2 weeks. On our second visit, he committed to baptism. In that short amount of time, his testimony grew so much! We witnessed a miracle with him too. One night, he lost his wallet and when he found it, all the money was gone. That was the money he was going to use to go home. He was so upset. He almost didn't meet with us, but then he decided to come anyway. A few days later, we were talking about how faith in Jesus Christ has helped him. He told us that because of his faith, he was able to earn more money in the last 3 days than he had the whole time he had been in Norway! On Sunday, he was supposed to come to church, but he wasn't there. I called him up and he told me that he had was heading home to Romania. He said, "Taylor, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn about this church. It has changed my life. I want to meet with the missionaries in Romania so that I can be baptized. I will never forget you. Thank you, Taylor." My heart melted! It was so sweet! It was in that moment that I knew that "the worth of every soul is great in the sigh tof God." What anamazing thing to be a part of! :)
2 and 3. Matilda and Alex- These 2 18 year olds I met outside the T-bane (Subway) station last week. Alex is from Denmark and is agnostic so she doesn't have a religion and isn't so sure about God, but thinks there might be something out there. Matilda is Norwegian and has a Christian background. I was so suprised that they actually wanted to hear more- normally girls their age would just laugh and walk away, but they had such good questions and wanted to learn more. Since our meeting, we have taught them a few times. Alex isn't progressing as much as Matilda is, but we will work on her. Matilda, however, I have been texting her- she told me that she has been reading her Book of Mormon and that whenever she does, she feels peace and she sleeps better at night. Oh man! That right there is progress! I will make sure that that girl is baptized if it is the last thing I do!
There are lots more, but I don't want to bore you... :)
Ok so those are just a few people that I am very glad in. :) I have also had some not so fun experiences this week. (But they were either super funny or necessary for better things to come)
1. I got my first kiss as a missionary... I was snagged by a drunk indian man who told me that God had commanded him to do it. I was freaking out- he almost got my mouth, but by some unknown power I was able to turn my face so he only got my cheek. I also don't know how, but I was able to push him off me and hand him a pass along card. ha ha ha ha ha! I was so freaked out, but me and Sister Johnston just laughed about it all night long! I'll never forget that one. DON"T WORRY- I am not hurt, injured, or mentally unstable now. Just wanted to share a funny story with you all. :)
2. We have come in contact with a lot of Bible-bashers lately. One group I was with Sister J., the other I was alone. It was not fun having to crazy Catholics down you're throat about why the BOM is so wrong in Gods eyes. It's like all you can do is invite them to read it and testify your heart out. So that's what I tried. THey basically told me I was stupid and misinformed and I had no idea what I was talking about, but as I walked away from them, I felt something unexpected... I thought it would cause me to question my beliefs, question why I was here, question what has been such a huge part of my life... I was waiting for these questions to wrack my soul with torment... but they didn't. I didn't understand why at first, then I realized: I KNOW it is true. I KNOW it. Nothing anyone says to me can ever change the fact that I KNOW this is true. YAY!!! It was so cool to realize the power of my own testimony even if didn't convince anyone at that moment. I was convinced. :)
So I was having a hard time the past couple of days. I've been feeling very lonely, inadequate, and yeah, just down on myself. But today, I was reading in 2 Nephi 33:3-4 and it's about Nephi praying for his people and crying for them at night. He doesn't talk about his own issues- he is focused on his people. He had faith that God would consecrate his prayers for the sake of his people. So I gained new perspective- to find joy here and stop being so selfish, I need to focus on my people, the Norwegians. I need to love them like I've never loved anyone before. So that is my new goal... I will stop worry about myself and worry more about my people. Pray more for them. Cry for them. Seek more to help them. Then no matter what, I will be happy! Yay for inspiration from the Spirit through the Word of God! :)
Anyways... That's my life for now. We are teaching teaching teaching all the time and I love it! So much fun! The Spirit is so strong all the time and it just makes me happy. Doesn't mean things are easy, but I am able to find strength in it.
Well I love you all tons! I spill my heart out to Heavenly Father for you everyday! You're the bestest in the westest!
Vi snakkes!!
Sister Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


                                            I really don't have tacos, my rain jacket leaks!!!

It's Monday again!!! My favorite day of the week! :) I love hearing from you all- it is the best!
So I'm healed- I went to take a picture of my nice bruise, but it was gone! I swear, I'm not going to tell you any of my funny stories if you are going to take them so seriously! Sheeesh! Ha ha ha! :)
So last Monday, we went for a hike. It was so beautiful! Norway is absolutely incredible! :)
Tuesday was a day of food and lots of it! We had a member lunch with an older lady named Randi. She fed us pizza and strawberry short cake- it was fabulous! Then we went to go mop floors for a member who just had surgery, and she tried to feed us too, but right after, we had a member dinner so we had to eat again! We ate and ate and ate! I love the ward here thoug- they are amazing!
Well this week we had some splits going on. Sister Stevens went up to Tronheim for a few days and I had Sister Fredrickson for 2 and Sister Ray for 1. These were the 2 sisters who were delayed at the MTC when we first got there! It was so good to see them- they are amazing missionaries and I can't waith to be companions with them! We found lots of people to teach! I was so happy to work with them, but I missed Sister Stevens a bit. :) It's actually really sad because on Wednesday, Sister Stevens moves to Bergen and I get a new companion. We keep asking President Johansen if I can follow her there next transfer because we got jipped due to my visa delay... we'll see what the Lord says about that...
So splits took up most of the week. Yesterday we had 2 investigators in church which is awesome! We are teaching some really good people while still keeping tabs on Mia and Yusuf- the 2 recently baptized members. I am so grateful for them and their awesome testimonies!
It's been raining like crazy here lately. It's getting darker and darker everyday, but the rain is ridiculous! ha ha! A member actually gave me a rain jacket, but in one pic I'm sending shows a defect... looks like tacos! ha ha!
Funny story, I've been cutting lots of hair here. The elders need them often.. ha ha! One elder bought me a kebab to say thanks- it was awesome! So fun! :)
So I attached some pics from Yusuf's baptism, our hike, and some other stuff. :)
Sorry this is kinda short! Just know I love you all so much!
Vi Snakkes!
Lots of love,
Sister Taylor

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week 16

Hi family!!!

Oh my goodness- thank you for the emails! They just make my whole week better. :) Ok, the stories from your week were hilarious! I shared the one about Mason with my comp and the zone leaders- we had a good laugh together. And Grandpa A... What a peach! Ha ha ha! Please send Grandma and Grandpa A my love. Sorry that my pictures were so crazy last week... They take forever to upload and I didn't have the time. I'm also sorry because today I left my cord at the apartment so I can't send anymore this week. Next week- I promise!! 

Well here's an account of my week:

Monday: P-day! We had to register for the city and that took up most of our time, but when we were all done, we went with the zone leaders (Elder DeCosta from Hawaii and Elder Davis from the Green Valley stake) took some city bikes (we have cards that allow us to rent bikes) and rode them to the building where they give the Nobel peace prize each year and then we went to the fortress. It's the old palace and church and military base... and it was bombed in WWII. Apparently the Norwegians are really superstitious because they say it is haunted. But we went and walked around the cobble stone streets up there. It was so cool! 

Tuesday: So we had a girl from the YW in the ward who wanted to go out tracting with us. Her name is Inger Sophie and can I just tell you- she is the Norwegian version of Lauren Grondel! She is so stinking sweet!!! She talks to me all the time in Norsk (because her English isn't so good) and I can barely understand her, but she told me the other day that we are best friends! Even though I have a hard time with the language, she will just come and stand by me and she'll give me hugs and tell me I'm smart. Ha ha! She even has the super curly hair! I love her! So anyways, we went tracting together and she helped me teach a man while Sister Stevens taught someone else.
That night, we took Yusuf (I think I've been calling him josef in my emails, but we were wrong... ha ha! He got baptized on Friday) to dinner with a member family- the Isaksens. Joakim and Marianna and their cute little 2 year old girl who reminds me of Charlie Ashton. I can understand when she speaks Norsk! Ha ha! They made us pizza and it was delicious!!! They had this yummy Norwegian sauce that you put on top and it is like a ranch/sour cream sauce- it's to die for! We talked about temples and it was grand!

Wednesday: We were given free tickets to a play at the opera house from our investigator, Janne (said like Yanna). It was a beautiful evening- we bought a big chocolate bar at 711 to eat during the play. The play was very interesting. It was an Old Norwegian opera and I understood like 3 words. I felt so stupid, but then after we were told that it was in old Norwegian so no one could really understand! Yay! :) I'll have to send you the video of us reenacting the play- it was super weird, but we were so grateful for the opportunity! We ran home in the rain and it was just a fabulous night!

Thursday: I got hit by a trikk... ok, just my arm. It was awesome. It knocked my book of Mormon out of my hand and gave me a huge bruise. I was so embarrassed! The driver jumped out and asked me if I was ok. I turned bright red and said I was fine because I was. But man did I hurt my arm and my pride, and they are both still hurting today! Ha ha ha! I'll have to send you a pic of my battle scar.

Friday: Baptism day! It was interesting... It was rainy, we took the wrong subway about 3 times, Yusuf almost didn't show up and we almost freaked out, the other girl getting baptized had a break down, but it all worked out! Woooof! :) Yay for sharing the gospel! 

Saturday: We had another member dinner with a single woman who, to our surprise, invited a non-member to eat with us. We taught him a brief lesson about the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. It was great! And it was chicken... Still no fish. I have a feeling it's coming fast though... we have a member lunch and diner tomorrow, so I'll let you know. Ha ha! 

On our walk back, we met a Polish man who spoke very little english, like 5 words... ha ha! We gave him a pass along card and then her gave me a bouquet of flowers that he had picked from the flower beds all over town. They were so pretty! I'll have to send you a picture- they were incredible!!

We had a teaching appointment too, a man from Sri Lanka and he gave sister stevens a gift- we thought it was perfume, but when she opened it, we found a light up cross with Jesus on it.

Sunday: Church is in all Norsk so it's good practice. I love the members! We had to visit a member about a referral and she had a cat... you can only guess what happened... ALLERGIES. Ha ha ha! I was a mess! Funny times.

Anyways... That was my week. I love you all so very much! Thank you for being so amazing! You're the bestest in the westest!!! 

Vi Skrives,
Søster Taylor

I need to send an amendment to this email:

I am just fine from getting hit by a trikk! It clipped the back of my arm and knocked the book out of my hand. I have a bruise about the size of an egg on my elbow, but I am totally fine. The only thing that still hurts is my pride. I was soooooo embarrassed! Don't worry about me- it was supposed to be something to laugh about. Sorry if I worried anyone! Love you tons! :)