Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 81 - the last post from Norway

Hey Fam!

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

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

Remember this scripture? Alma 29:9 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥- Søster Taylor

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 80

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Week 79

Hello from Bergen! 

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

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

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

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

♥- Søster Jessica Taylor