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