Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week 39

Hello my dear, sweet family!

How are you all doing? Everybody healthy and happy?

I just have to say thank you for always beeing so diligent in sending mail and emails. I am sorry that my writing skills have gone downhill lately. Things are really really busy here, but that is still no excuse to not be on top of mailing stuff to you guys! Please forgive me!!! I am repenting and will try to be better at it. :)

Can I just tell you all: I am sooooo HAPPY!!! Whenever I think about how blessed I am, my heart just swells inside my chest and I feel like I could explode! I don't think I have ever been this happy in my entire life. On Wednesday, one of our investigators brought a friend for us to teach and after we had talked about the plan of salvation, the friend asked us if we were happy being so far away from home and what not. I told him that this was the best experience I have ever had, and I really meant it. However, this man just said that we are too young to know what true happiness is. That made me think a lot. I mean, yeah I am young, but I can't imagine being more happy than I am RIGHT NOW. I feel the Holy Ghost every minute of every day. I get to share what I love with others every day. I get to study the Word of God every day. I get to talk to God hundreds of times every day, and I feel His love every day... Yet he can tell me I don't know true happiness? Whatever! He has no idea what he is missing out on! :) This gospel is all about finding happiness in this life and joy in the next... We are so blessed!!!

Wednesday was a miracle day! My heart was swelling all day. :) I was super stressed trying to plan the baptism for Sunday, but at 5 pm, we met with Marita (the girl with the baptismal date in April). We knew we needed to change her date or else she could get lost. We planned an awesome lesson beforehand, but didn't use it at all! We just followed the Spirit's promptings and met her needs 100%. I know that because when I asked her about moving her date to the 7th of March, she was 100% ok with it! It was so awesome! :) So we have awesome point #1 baptism on Sunday. #2 Marita's date moved up a month. And #3 we had 3 investigators come to the institute dinner and activity that night! WOW!!! 

Thursday was a SUPER COLD day! Sister Campbell, Elder Sessions (DL), Elder Strange, and I went to visit a less active family outside of the city, but they weren't home and we had to wait an hour for the bus to come back. There were no people out (mind you it was -9 Celsius with a HUGE wind chill). We went to the grocery store to buy some Norwegian chocolate, then weathered the storm by the bus stop. It was horrible and hilarious! We were all doing jumping jacks and dancing trying to stay warm... We looked like a pack of crazies! :)

Friday, we had to come home early because Sister Campbell got really sick. (We were home almost all weekend... It was super sad...) But I had the opportunity to call some people while she slept. I called this one guy named Simon. He told me that he was in the hospital and was really sick. He has been thinking a lot about God and religion and he asked me to tell him what happens after death. So I had the opportunity to teach this man about the Plan of Salvation and about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it all possible. It was such a cool experience! He is not in town, but we are planning to teach him over skype very soon. I will keep you posted! :) 

On Saturday, Daniel (the athiest boy who's sister is a member) was baptized! His nonmember mom and brother were there. It was so awesome! He totally has a belief in God and when he heard that Sister Campbell was sick, he told her that he would pray for her. Maybe that doesn't seem too cool, but when you knew the guy didn't believe in God before and then he tells you he will pray... It is a miracle! It is THE MOST AMAZING thing to see the change that occurs in a person as they realize that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them. My joy is full!!! He is so happy, and even though he doesn't really show his emotions that much, he told me that his outlook on life is more clear and he feels at peace! Herlighet!!! :) (Yes that is Norwegian... I can't think of an English word that embodies how I am feeling... herlighet means like glory and joy and perfection and... yeah...)

Well, sad news- no baptism yesterday... But no worries, Mariell is still getting baptized. She got really sick on Saturday night. The Elders gave her a blessing, but she still wasn't better by morning. It was really sad becasue I put SO MUCH work into getting that all organized. (I was pretty much doing it all on my own because poor Sister Campbell got super sick this week- stomach flu and a cold... it was horrible! So everything fell on me.) She will be baptized the second week in February. So all is well. :)

Whenever I write you, I just feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest! I love you guys so much!!! You are so wonderful. :)

Thank you for all you do. You are always in my prayers!

Vi Snakkes!!!
♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Week 38

Hi Family!!!

How are you all doing? It was so good hearing from all of you this week- it makes me so happy! :) 

Everything is going well here in Trondheim! The weather is very mild... Nothing too exciting. It is cold, but not too bad. The scariest part is that the streets are covered in ice and so we have to walk like 90+ year olds where ever we go. It is really funny because that is how everyone walks around! I call it the Trondheim shuffle. I will show you what it is like when I get home. :) I can't believe that I am almost on the downhill climb... SCARY!!! It is going by so fast...

Training is an interesting experience. I feel so inadequate, but I am trying my best to keep everything under wraps. I am never quite sure what I am doing and I kind of just fly by the seat of my pants. Too Late! Hopefully Sister Campbell turns out ok... Sister Grass is leaving me today for Oslo. That is a little scary. I love that girl! She is so amazing! I am going to miss her tons and tons...

We received a lot of recognition from our newspaper article. It really made a stand here in Trondheim and I guess Elder Davis and the other AP were on the Norwegian news. So everyone is talking about "The Mormons" right now. I just can't help but feel so blessed to have the knowledge of the gospel and to be able to be a representative of Jesus Christ! It is quite the privilege!

So this week we had Specialized training with President and Sister Johansen. They flew up to Trondheim for the day and shared some wisdom with us. It was really good to hear from them- I love their advice! It always pumps me up! :) They are really trying to step up the way we do missionary work. Because our goal is 100 baptisms before the end of June, we really have to become the most effective, diligent, and obedient missionaries so that we can be worthy of the blessings we need to reach it.

This week, we got 2 baptismal dates. One is for a nine year old, named Mariell. Her mom is a member from the Phillipines and her father is Norwegian and is against the church. He told her that she had to wait until she was 9 to be baptized (which is perfect because now she is a convert baptism!). She has been taught all of the lessons, received her interview, and will be baptized next Sunday morning. Yahoo! :) The other is for a man named Wanda. He is from Africa and we met him on the street last week. He was really open the first time we talked and told us that he felt like he needed to listen to us right when he met us. He is really cool- he works for non-profit organizations that try to prevent sexual abuse of children in Africa. The last time we taught him, he basically asked us when he could be baptized! We set his goal for the 18th of February and we are going to do everything to help him reach it! We are still teaching Marita- she has a baptismal date for the 7th of April. We are hoping that we will be able to move that up a few months... We will see what happens. She really wants to finish the Book of Mormon before she is baptized, which is admirable. :) We are teaching some other random people here and there and doing lots of finding- we need to find the elect! :)

Ok- so last night we experienced a miracle. It was after 9, so we were inside planning for today when we received a phone call from our zone leaders; 2 words- NORTHERN LIGHTS!!! We ran outside and saw them dancing across the sky- it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen in my entire life! I don't even have to words to tell you how wonderful it was to see them!!!

I am just feeling so blessed! I love this gospel so much and I know it is true! I am so grateful to be able to share it with these people! Happy, happy, HAPPY!!! :)

Well, I love you all so very much! ...and I miss you all too. I hope you all have a great week! Vi snakkes! :)

♥-Søster Jessica Taylor  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 37

Pictures of Hell, Norway. It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen, it reminds me of a snow globe.

Hi Fam!

How are you guys doing? Oh man, I love being able to read all of your emails- they make me so happy! :)

The weather has been really bad and wet lately. It is not cold, but rainy and icy. We all have fallen down and I have a nice bruise on my knee from falling down- I love the battle scars! :) Even with the bad weather, this place looks like a snow globe! It is so beautiful!

So my new missionary got here on Wednesday. Her name is Sister Campbell and she is from Kansas. She is really nice and cute. It is really weird being with a missionary that doesn't really know what they are doing- I have TONS of responsibility right now. I am trying to up her teaching and language skills, introduce her to members, keep track of our investigators, and be super happy and organized all at the same time! I think my brain is going to be fried at the end of this transfer... Thank heavens that I have Sister Grass here to help me for a little bit. However, I don't think she will be here for too much longer.

On Thursday, we had an interview with a guy from the local newspaper. He was doing an article about Mitt Romney and Mormons. (Norwegians are crazy about American politics- Dad would like them :) Ha ha! jk.) We couldn't answer any of his questions about politics because as missionaries, we can't have a political stand. But after the interview, a photographer followed us around and took a bunch of pictures of us contacting. It was really fun! The article came out on Saturday, so we went and bought copies to take home :)

On Thursday, we had another Christmas party and we sang traditional songs around the Christmas tree like the whoos in the Grinch. I loved it so much! This place is incredible!!

Can I just tell you all, I LOVE THE PEOPLE HERE!!! They are the most amazing people I have ever most in my entire life (other than you guys of course). They are so sweet, inspired, and Christ-like people. I am so grateful to be here! I had the wonderful opportunity to teach relief society on Sunday and lets just say I was sweating bullets! It was alright... (it would've been so much better in English!) Anyways, it was about charity and service. I told a story about Sam and the Spirit was strong and I think people felt it.. I hope... They told me they might ask me again... SNAP!

Well, I am sorry, this was not a very spiritually uplifting email, but I hope you all know that I know this Church is true and I love our Savior with all my heart!

I hope you all have a great week! Love and miss you all tons!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week 36

Hi Family!!!

Oh my goodness, it is so good to be able to hear from you all each week- it makes me so very happy! :) (I almost feel like I am right there with you!) I hope everything is going well with all of you. :)

So I don't think I have ever felt as cold as I have this past week! It has been ridiculous!!! At the first of the week, we had some nice snow storms and what not. That was really fun and not at the same time because it makes my hair snarl up and all nasty. Ha ha! (I am so vain.) Then the temperatures just dropped. Everything turned to ice and not even 2 wool coats, thermals, tights, wool socks, boots, gloves and a hat kept me from freezing! It's all good though- I absolutely LOVE it!

Sister Grass and I have so much fun together! I seriously have not loved missionary work so much as when I have been with her. I am so stinking happy right now! :)

We have been teaching a lot of people, but not many of them are really progressing, so that is hard, but we have 4 people right now who are in the "zone" to be baptized. Daniel (I have told you about him a little bit, his sister was baptized in June) was an atheist, but admitted last night to Sister Grass that he believes in God. We had the most amazing teach with him last week. We had planned to teach him about following the prophet, but we ended up talking a lot about the Word of Wisdom and how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us overcome temptations. The Spirit was soooo strong and we helped him recognize that it was the Spirit talking to him. I loved it!!! He is totally getting baptized... the only question is when... I will get back to you all on that one. We are teaching him again tonight! Then we have Marita. Her mom is a less active. We haven't been able to meet with her for a little while because of the holidays, but she has a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Only problem- she is looking for a BIG answer or sign from God that it is true... Hopefully we can help her recognize the little things and how they add up. We are planning on teaching her about the Holy Ghost and how He communicates with us. I am excite for that. :) Then we have Anette. I actually haven't been able to teach her yet due to the holidays and her being sick, but I did meet her on the street. She has been taught everything she needs in order to be baptized, now it is just a matter of getting her to church! She should be ready for the end of this month. Then we have Brit who was a referral from a lady in the branch. She is Lutheran and actually works for the State church, but we went over and taught her the restoration- IT WAS AMAZING!!! The Spirit was so strong to the point that she had goosebumps! I almost cried in the lesson because it was so powerful! :) Oh Man!!!   

Well on Wednesday evening, I received a call from the Assistants telling me that I would be training next transfer. So on Thursday, Sister Grass and I flew to Oslo for a training meeting. I don't ever think I have felt more inadequate in my entire life. During the meeting, they just kept telling us how big of a responsibility it is and that we will have a permanent mark on these missionaries. So there are 4 of us training- 3  from my MTC group and one from the group that came after. There is only one sister coming and 3 elders. It should be really interesting. It has been cool to see how scared I was at first and to see how Heavenly Father has helped me feel calm and ready for this responsibility. I will let you know how it goes! Sister Campbell will be here Wednesday morning! :) (The cool thing is- because I have only been here for 3 weeks, president is letting Sister Grass stay here for a week to help me out a little bit before she moves to Oslo to be in a three-some).

Mom, you would like this- So at church yesterday, I was asked by the Relief Society president to teach next week... PÅ NORSK!!! Mom, you can't complain anymore about teaching because I officially have you beat... Preparing a lesson in another language! Ha ha! Just consider yourself lucky that you get to teach in your mother-tongue! :) I will let you all know how it goes...

New hot off the press- the Mitt Romney-Mormon thing is really hitting hard here in Norway, so on Thursday, the biggest Newspaper in Trondheim is going to come and interview us, then go out on the streets with us! I am gonna be famous! Ha ha! Just kidding! :)

Well that's about all I have... I love you guys so much and I love this work! I hope you all have a great week! :)

Vi Snakkes!
♥-Søster Jessica Taylor   

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week 35

Happy New Year!!!

Oh my goodness- I love and miss you guys so much! I am so glad that you got the package I sent- I was afraid it would never get there.... Anyways, I will translate my testimony for you... later. I forgot what I said. oops! Too late!! :) Congrats to Kelie and Mason on passing your life guard tests! That is awesome! :) And no, my pj pants have not ripped yet... I have a feeling it will happen soon though... :(

I still think about our chance to skype every single day- that was so wonderful! I loved every minute of it and it makes me so excited that we only have about 17 more weeks until we get skype! Woot!! I am so excited!

I can't believe it is already 2012... That is nuts. Any New Year's resolutions? I certainly have some. I am trying to become more converted, more obedient, more positive, and more healthy (I already eat pretty healthy here, but me and Sister Grass plan to become hotter and ripped real soon so we can find us some italian stallions! Just kidding. Ha ha!) We actually are cutting sugar out of our diets. It should be interesting. We will see how it goes. :)

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to go to a concert at a cathedral here- it actually is the most famous one in all of Norway- it was a girls choir and it was absolutely AMAZING!!! They sang many traditional Norwegian and English Christmas songs. (Christmas is still kinda going on here... Everybody is still saying "God Jul!") I felt like I was i the Sound of Music or something- the architecture was incredible- I was in Heaven!!!

So we had an awesome New Year's eve party! The Springers (the couple missionaries) and Jo-Ann (a new convert) and Hande (our blind investigator from Turkey) and us were at the church playing uno and watching The Other Side of Heaven. It was so fun! Then right before midnight, we walked out and stood on the bridge and watched the fireworks go off all over the city- It was amazing! Some people were lighting up these lanterns like on Tangled and Sister Grass and I were dying- we took lots of pictures! :) It was so nice. We got to sleep in until 7:30 yesterday morning and then we had an hour of church. It was wonderful! I am starting to build a few more relationships with the members here- that's exciting for me. :)

Sister Grass and I are having such a great time together. I love this girl! She is an amazing missionary. I am so lucky to be her companion! :) We are working really hard to get lots of people to teach. Right now, we have a guy named Daniel. His sister, Molly (Mormon), was baptized a few months ago. He is a rocket scientist and was completely atheist, but I talked to him the other day, and he is becoming more and more open to the idea of God. It has been cool to see him change and open up. He actually has a baptismal date for the 21st of this month. We will be teaching him the law of chastity next... my favorite lesson. NOT!!! Ha ha! He is really cool though. He bought me mittens for Christmas- they are red with white snowflakes on them- Norwegian style. :) Marita is really awesome. She is Norwegian and her mom is actually a less active member. I just met her, but she is so prepared! I love those kinds of people!!! :) As far as people back in Oslo, as far as I know, none of them have been baptized yet. Hopefully, soon though... I thought I would miss them more, but the people here in Trondheim are just filling up my heart super quick! :) More updates next week...

Well, I don't have time to send individual emails this week, but please know that I love each and everyone of you individually and I love hearing from you! You guys are the bestest family in the westest!! Thank you for everything. Yahoo the Church is true!!!

Lots and lots of love,
Søster Jessica Taylor