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