FAMILY!!!! I am sending you all a cyber hug through this email. And its probs going to be a bit cold because the Norwegian fall has started!! Elder Whitbeck, our adorable greenie turned to me on Saturday and said "It's cold. It's August..." and then looked around nervously. Yep, winter is on its way which makes Norwegians happy, Americans sad, and the rest of them confused because they haven't seen snow before. I am currently wearing my Norwegian sweater and wishing I was skinny enough to afford the calories of Hot Chocolate. Is hot chocolate capitalized? Probably not. English is hard!! Fall always reminds me of being home. The smell of warm bread! You guys know what I'm talking about! We came in from school and there are like 1000 of those tiny loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread on the counters. You know, those ones that you always tell yourself that you are going to split with someone else, but just end up eating the whole thing. Yes, those are my thoughts about fall. And football. Saturday football! I tried to talk to an American family last week about football, but they aren't huge fans. To say the least, I was greatly disappointed. We are celebrating fall here in The Norway by doing what we always do, baptize people. Okay, well some of us are baptizing *cough cough Thurgood with number 9*, and the rest of us are making Apple Crisp to eat with Ice cream. Tonight we have been invited to FHE with Familien Strand and we are bring dessert. I thought what else would be a more fally thing to bring than Apple Crisp. Again, with the capitalizing... its out of control! They are just being dolls and inviting our newest convert, Benedikte, over as well. So it will be a glorious night! Sorry for the weird language, some times I get bored and have to change things up!
So it's been like 4 days since my last email, but that's okay because I don't remember anything I said in the last email! But since we last spoke, if you will, I have received probably 9 brusies. We had a double stake fotball, aka soccer, tournament on Saturday. We had a 3 people there we are teaching so we were able to go and have fun! It was really fun! I got to see a lot of different members from my different areas, and Tournn's sister. So that was cool! I do have a confession: I didn't play. See what happened was, we got to the tourney and the first thing that they said was that they were worried because we were all American. I was thinking, "Come on this is church ball!" Well then people started showing up... and this was no "church ball". Drammen, the team that ended up winning, their bishop played on a national team. These people were not messing around. So I kindly sat on the sidelines and cheered for my cute little 12 year old investigator that kept scoring and doing front flips. Moral of the story? Europeans are crazy about Soccer/Fotball. Second moral of the story: They don't like Americans that keep messing up their game. So its kind of confusing about the bruises because I didn't play, but never the less they are there. It gives me something to be proud of!
We had a couple of cool experiences this week. Every Saturday night we go over to the Familien Hooper. This week one of their inactive sons was there and he had a friend over. We had met the friend previously and he had read a few scriptures in the spiritual thought, but we didn't talk to him much. This last week though we were able to have a great conversation with him! We taught the family about faith, using Elder Holland's "Lord, I believe". Afterwards, Tone, the mom, asked who here has a testimony? And then made each of the kids explain what they had a testimony of. #boldmoveoftheyear As we started talking and the kids started sharing experiences the Spirit was strong. I knew I had to ask the friend what he believed. So I just took a deep breath and did it. It was great! He was able to explain how he grew up and how he feels about religion. He said he is seeking but he has to do it in his own way. He just kept talking and talking. And his friend, the inactive, bore his testimony and talked about a Bishop in Alaska who had helped him strengthen it. He said that by watching the kind of person he was, it helped him grow in his testimony of God. It was the coolest thing! Everyone was sharing experiences. We didn't push the friend too hard because we want to take it slow, but it was so neat to hear everyone talking about their belief. They are all in different phases of their life and in the gospel. Some are strong, some are weak, some never come or haven't come, and others weren't members but as we spoke there was a unity that brought us together. And it all started with the question, "Who has a testimony?"
Then Sunday came around. There is a part member family here that we work with. The dad is an inactive member, the mom was raised Muslim and Christian, and they have 8 kids and one on the way. Its a crazy situation and every time we go over there we are either a horse, a baking expert, or a children's game specialist. I love it though! The craziness reminds me of home! And I love being around the kids. Kids love you no matter what, and its the best thing! Often, the brother to the mom is there and we just chat with him. This week he asked if he could come to church. He was able to come to church yesterday and he told us he wants to be baptized! He said "I want to change my life and put it in harmony with what God wants!" I thought to myself, well.... I guess we should probably start teaching you then. We want to take it slow, because we want to make sure he really understands, but this is a huge step for him and for the family! We really want the whole family baptized, and we know that as he makes changes that it is going to help the family to make changes. Our first real lesson with him is on Thursday! So keep us in your prayers! He sounds like he is really ready to change. A lot of the changes he is going to have to make will be hard, but the Atonement is for everyone. I will keep you guys posted on his story! His name is Shalko. They are all from Bosnia and probably the loudest, most outgoing, most loving family ever. Mom and Dad, I will definitely take you to meet them when you are here!
This week will be our first full week, in a while, that we will stay in our area. I have gotten so used to traveling that I am almost confused by a full week of planning! But it will be good! Next week Sept. 6th is the Sister's Conference. It will be a full day experience and then we will all sleep in the Oslo area and have the Elder Bednar conference the next day. I am so excited for that! I am DYING to see TJ! I haven't seen her in 6 months. Not since the horrors of Tønsberg! So it will be so great to be with her again, and of course all of the other sisters that I just adore! I think I will probably get about zero sleep, but that's okay! Maybe Sister Hunt will sleep talk again!! That would be exciting!!
Well I guess I should get to the funny part.... here are some quotes...
Ashton on the trek: "We just wanted to give you a little taste of what the pioneers went through. Excuse me?! I could be sitting at home with an Icee playing Nintendo 64. I know what the pioneers went through!"
Sandra on the whispers turning into regular voices "Um... we're whispering pretty loud!!!"
Ashton on Islams: "Do you know what? Technically Mormons are Islamic because Islamic means total submission to God and Mormons are all about that crap!"
Well that is about all for me! I hope that you all are doing great!!! Is the fall coming to America yet? It actually gets dark at night now!!! I am so glad that I won't be here for dark time! Æshj!! I hope that all the kids had a good first week of school or if they haven't started, that they will!! I love you guys!!
Keep it real. Keep it classy. And may the odds be ever in your favor!
Nixon- Happy Birthday!!! I haven't even met you yet, but I think you're the cutest. Also, you can't read because you are one, so this is irrelevant, but your parents can and they are judgey!! Love you!