"But as always, it is the ties and bonds of love and family that keep people from saving themselves." - The Bronze Horseman
Sometimes people ask me what the hardest thing about missionary work is. This week I have an answer or you guys: Agency. Agency is the hardest thing to deal with out here in the field. It isn't your own agency that is difficult, its the other people's agency. It is hard to talk to the people on the street, give lessons, and bare testimony and KNOW that people were touched by the Spirit and that their souls recognize the truth, and then, sadly, watch them tell you no and walk away. I don't think I have ever, or ever will be, as heart broken as I have here in the field. You poor your whole soul out. You tell these people how their whole lives can be changed and made better and then, you wait. And most of the time the use their agency to not listen. President always tells me, "Many people will tell you no, Sister Hodgkiss, but we are looking for gold." And as missionaries we are blessed to find that gold. But here's the thing about gold, the more you have it, the more you want it. The more I see people changed by the gospel, touched by our message, and humbled, the more I want everyone to have it. I wish that I could make the decision for them all. I wish that I could just baptize them and THEN let them see what it is like. I wish they knew what they were missing, but they don't, not unless they partake of gospel.
The quote at the beginning has never been more true to me. I see these people, and many of them want to believe or maybe even do belive, and yet they still don't accept the gospel. This isn't a small thing. This isn't pettty work. This is salvation, and we are trying to bring it to all. I often see that people don't follow up on their commitments (CPR- church, pray, read scriptures) for 2 reasons. 1. They are too scared or 2. They just don't care. Most of the time I think that it is the first one. They are held back by all these things that Satan makes them think are the most important thing. They are too scared to ask if this gospel is true because what it will mean. It will require them to change everything, and that frightens them. It might even require them to lose everything they had. Many ask is it too much? Why would God ask us to give so much, to give up everything? They focus on the question "What will I HAVE to give up for God?" instead of "What MORE Can I give up so that God can bless me MORE?" We don't sacrifice just to sacrifice. God isn't a angry God. We sacrifice so that we can be blessed from on high. No family, relationship, or thing is an exception to the rule because in the gospel all things are better. Maybe not right now, maybe not tommorrow, but in the Eternities. People become so worried about offending others that they forget to save themselves.
Quote of the Week:
Me: I am just obsessed with the pioneers. I LOVE them. I LOVE reading about them. Etc, etc, etc
Søs Hilton: Do you have any pioneer ancestors?
Hilt: Have you seen 17 Miracles?
Hilt: YOU ARE A PIONEER LOVER POSER!
Speaking of ancestors.... #livingthedream I found out some cool stuff this week! Everyone prepare yourself now! So here I am in a lesson with Miran #phantomofthechurch. Miran is ALWAYS here. Yesterday we walked in and he was just sitting in the back of the chapel in the dark. #sketch. But I love him! I love having lessons with the members because they just talk and my Norwegian gets SO much better as I listen and just have conversations with them. I mentioned that my anscetors were from Norway and he got all excited. He LOVES family history. He took my book and got on and looked up all the information of Carl and Astrid. He even got me Carl's address where he used to live! Can you believe that?! I am going to go visit and then take a picture. Actually... I'm thinking about bonking in that area and then asking people if I can come in and look around. I mean why not right? Got to use everything you can to get into houses!! I will send that picture ASAP to you guys so you can see it. What history do we know about Carl? I don't know very much. He used to be a sports shop keeper. He was the guy behind the desk that people would come in and give their lists to and he would go get all the items for them. Crazy right? But anything we know about him, I would love to know. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Carl is from Trondheim. It is way cool to be living in the same city your great-grandfather lived in. I know he is helping the work progress!
Mom- can you send me the information on the relatives that we have in Norway still? I would love to go visit them! Also, go read the talk "Dear are the sheep that have wandered" in the June Liahona. It is bomb!
This week Elder Jensen and Elder Badger found a family to teach. You guys! This doesn't happen! But they made a goal at the start of this transfer. They decided the exact characteristics of the family that they wanted to teach. They wanted a Mom and a Dad, 2 older boys, and 1 younger girl. They have been bonking so much trying to find a family that would be open to the gospel. Yesterday, they met that family. A mom and a dad, 2 older boys, and one younger girl. The older boy had had many questions about religion and the topics we discuss in the 1st and 2nd lesson was exactly what he wanted to hear. They now have a family! Miracles are happening! Because of their sucess, Søster Hilton and I have decided that we want to find a family. We haven't set specifics yet, but we are going to. Please keep us in your prayers! It would be an amazing experience. We don't get the chance to teach many families often here.
Everyone go read "A God of Miracles" in the July Liahona. It will change your life. And watch "Hastening the Work". Its a 2 hour broadcast that was worldwide for everyone about missionary work. It said that missionaries are only there to help the members do their own missionary work. They said that they want missionaries to be so busy with members and their non-member friends that they won't have time to contact of bonk. WHAT?! I can't even imagine that! And..... drum roll please.... in the next year we are going to be getting Facebooks, and blogs, and I think ipads!! The church knows that just street contacting or bonking isn't working anymore and now we need to update our technology. I really hope we have ipads. We could show Mormon messages on the street! We could have pictures and words from prophets! It would be amazing! Keep your fingers crossed!
Also, I want to give a big shout out to Jen Nucklos! Her talk "Truths and LIes" is making its way around Norway! Yep! It is a big hit here. I have used it in 2 lessons in the last week. I read it at leasts 2 times a week in personal study and refer to it countless times a week. A few weeks ago I was talking to Søster Hilton about something I was struggling with and she pulled out a talk for me to read. I read the author and I turned to her and I said "That awkward moment when this is by my cousin...." Søster Hilton flipped! She LOVES that talk and she wants to meet Jen. I told her all about Jen and how awesome she is! I even showed her Jen's picture in my family history book. Søster Hilton was speachless. She got the talk from another Sister here in Norway. It is spreading! I thought that it would make Jen happy to know that her talk is changing people in Norway. I love the ring effect in life! Nothing we do just effects us!
Congrats to Jeff and Shira on their little boy! He is so cute! Thanks for the picture mom. I am so happy to hear that everything went well with the birth. And Aunt Karen is a Grandma now or a Bestemor as we call it here in Norge. That is just so great! I wish them all the best!!
What's the news with Kel and Sarah? Pics? Where they will be heading? Still keeping my fingers crossed for Norway!
Katie. You are going to be beat. No joke. Send me pictures!
Saturday night is a #sketchy time to go contacting. Everyone is out drinking so you have to be careful. We were talking to people and we saw a guy. You know sometimes it feels like a waste of time to go contacting, but this night something really speacial happened. Søster Hilton found her husband. Yes. She found him in all his drunkedness glory. At first we just thought he was a nice guy, but all the sudden I was having flash backs from Russia because the alchoal smell was so strong! He told Søster Hilton that we would come to church if she was going to be there and then they could get married. But! He told her she had to forget about all this religion stuff otherwise it just wasn't going to work. I think that Søster Hilton is still weighing her options carefully. You know, you just never know when and where you are going to meet prince charming. Sadly though, he didn't come to church. Hey, don't be so judgy, we're missionaries! We will take anyone!
So you know if someone would have told me everything I woudl be doing right now a year ago I would have laughed in their face. I don't think I have ever been so out of my comfort zone in my entire life. And you know what the crazy part is? I have forgotten it is out of my comfort zone and now its just real life. We started doing street signs here in Trondheim. And its kinda gotten crazy. We don't just have some lame table, oh no, we go all out. For our weekly one we have copies of Book of Mormons in tons of languages and all this cool stuff and.... we sing. Yep. That's right. I am in Norway singing on the streets of Trondheim. #thisisreallife People are way receptive. They come and listen to us sing and we have all the Elders swoop in and talk to them about religion and stuff. Tons of fun conversations! Street signs are the best! I started talking to people alone, which I never do, and it actually went pretty well. There was this one guy that just would not believe that I had only been in Norway for a month. Seriously, it was flattering for like a total of 2 seconds and then I was just annoyed. I'm like SIR. I AM NOT LYING! #peoplethesedays He was also the same man that when I told him that I know God is there he said "You do not KNOW you HOPE He is there" Oh sir. Good luck. Then when I let him talk and ramble for a second and started to talk he told me he didn't have time. Obvie you had time to stop and chat for 3 years, but now that I want to chat you don't? #overit
This Saturday we are doing something really special. We are having pretty much a Mormon fair. Okay so this is how it all started. We have been thinking about ways that we can get more people to talk to us, but not be so intimidating. For some reason, Russia popped into my head. In one of the cities that we visited they did this cool thing. They had these huge white eggs and were letting people paint them. They gave out paint and let people decorate them with a theme. So many people helped out. There were families and kids and people that were really good at art. We even helped out. While we painted we talked to them about why they were doing it and about the city. When we finished they were going to move the eggs to all over the city for display. The thought occured to me that if they did it, why couldn't we? So the plan was born. After much converstation we decided that that was exactly what we needed. It gave us 1. A community project and 2. An easy way to talk to people about our faith in a non intimidating way.
So this is how it is going down. We have a huge canvas that is blank. It is 5 ft X 7ft, and we are going to have people come up and help us paint the Tree of Life picture by Greg Olsen. We of course won't be coping it directly, but we will recreate the story in a painting. To be able to paint people have to come up to us and get paint and a paint brush. When they ask what we are painting we tell them that we are painting a story and we tell them the story of the tree of life in simple terms. What does this do? This brings the Spirit, and helps the people see us as normal people. Everyone will want to paint just like they did in Russia. They don't have to hear a lesson or even talk to us about the Church, they just have to listen to the simple story and then they can paint. Anyone can do it! Kids and artist! We are going to have multiple pictures of paintings done of the Tree of Life so that people can get a vision. It is going to be awesome! While we paint we will be able to discuss the gospel and what we do here as missionaries. Then we can tell them how this story is found in the Book or Mormon and ask if they would like to hear more. The options are limitless! But we don't only have this painting.
We also have 5 booths, Book of Mormon, Family History, Mormon.org, Servie, and feedback. We are getting the whole ward to be involved to help us. At each booth we will have unique things. At the family history station people will be able to look up their families on the spot and can sign up to come to a class. They also can write letters to their families and we will send them. Also we will talk about family home evenings and things we can do with our families to be better. At the Mormon.org one we will have a huge flat screen tv that is playing Mormon Messages and I'm A Mormon videos. At the Service one people can write down things that they need done or need help with and we will help or assign members to help them. The feedback station is cool because people can give us reviews and can also fill out their information if they want to be visited by the missionaries. Guys. I am stocked. I don't know if this has ever been done before here in Norway, but we are putting SO much time and energy into this. We have 1/4 of the downtown cicle area. It's HUGE! And we have a stage so we are going to be singing and having Elder Leighton play the guitar. This is a BIG event! Please oh please pray that it goes well and we have a lot of success from it. I really think its going to be great!
You know my toe nail that fell off in Russia? I'm pretty sure its going to fall off again. #ash. ash= gross in Norwegian
For the 4th of July we all had dinner together! We have hot dogs and Søster Hilton and I made this apple crisp delite. The Elders have now began to put orders in for things they want us to make. So funny. Mom, you talked about an Elder that records things and also has a hard drive. That's Elder Jensen, basically Jordan's twin. They are so much alike! It kills me. We are currently in a scare war. I try to hide every time he comes in the church, but he has gotten really good at finding out where I am. I must pray harder about this.... He is so funny though. Seriously sometimes I can't look at him he is so much like Jordan. So great. But yeah he has this HUGE hard drive that he got from the states. He just loads everything on there. He has movies in Norwegian from members, music, pics, recordings, everything. And he records conversations all the time. Like you will be telling him a story and BAM! Its recorded. #iwishicouldhithim But yeah, way cool thing. Obvs. I'm here now, so idk what to do about that. But yeah, it works for him.
Birthday= tampons. Tampys are weird here. Not a fan. Also Clinique makeup. That eye stuff you use to make your eye make up stay on? The tint I have is canvas. Lotion. The powder that is like the bare minerals that you turn to make it come out? Lightest shade? I don't know. Make up these days. Every time I think about not doing my hair or make up I think about Corby telling me to just give in when I feel the ugliness coming on. NEVER!!!!!!!!!
You guys all look like you are having a blast this summer. I loved the video! I cried when I watched it. It was a good cry though. Jordan! You are my hero! That outfit for the 4th? LIFE CHANGING! Lins, you looked so cute. You guys are such hipsters. Gavin and Bry and Tom and Heston are so cute! Heston is huge! He tots looks like one of my favorite celebs. Oh man! You guys asked about the food, so yesterday at a meal with a member I took pictures! Just you wait! Also, here in Norway we are asked to do everything. For example yesterday.... 1 set of elders taught sunday school the other set translated for the English speakers. Søs Pet. and Søs Kit. taught primary and Søs Hilt and I taught young mens. Then for RS Søs Kit translated everything that was said in English into Norwegian and I translated everything that was said in Norwegian into English because we had a English teacher and everyone was up in arms about that. I get so much translating practice at Church! Its crazy how much I have already learned!
I have loved hearing from all that I have heard from. Shout out to getting a bunch of mail this week: The Dick Family, Em, Sister Jones, and Andrew!!! It was a great week! You will all be getting mail back! Don't know how long it will take though!
Mom and dad, thanks for all you do! I love you! It is always so good to hear from dad. He always tells me about Shadow, which non of the rest of you hoodlums do. Tisk, tisk. I am grateful for all the love and the support!!! It makes being out here easier!
Oh man, I have to share one last story. So last week I was talking to my ZL, Elder Earl, who is the bomb, about how I was feeling. I was frustrated and annoyed with the lang and the mission life. He was telling me how it gets better, and I told him that I was sick of everyone saying that! Well when we did the street sign last Sat. we were contacting together and talking in between. He told me to ask Elder Badger about how depressing his journal entries were for the first 6 months. I asked Elder Badger and this is what he quoted to me "Today I realized that there are more people that hate me than there are that like me. Today I realized how difficult of a person I am to live with. Why am I here? This is a waste of time!" I died guys. Died laughing. Not because it's funny, but because that's what ALL of our journal entries sound like from the beginning. I was told that until about month 6 you kinda hate mission life. Elder Earl is the bomb though. He seriously is the best missionary. He can tell me exactly the page number of where everything is in the White Handbook and PMG. Seriously. My hero. He tries to help so much and I just loved that he was like look I hated it, but I'm awesome now. Of course he would never say that out loud though! The missionaries here are great!
Well that's all for now guys! I will send some pictures later! I love you all!