Dear Weasley Family and Friends,
Thank you all for the birthday wishes! And thanks Mom and Dad for getting married 41 years ago so that I could come to earth with so many wonderful siblings and be raised in a wonderful family. Mom and Dad are on their way to their 50 year mark, and I'm on my way to my 30s. This is a day to be celebrated, for suzies! I woke up this morning and I sang "I'm feeling 22" by T-Swift. Last year on my birthday I was in Trondheim and we had a surprise distrikt dinner planned by Elder Jones. It was a blast, but I figured since its my last birthday on my mish, I had to make it a big one. Elder Ashton has been announcing my birthday for a couple of weeks and reminding everyone of the countdown. We all came to the church early today and saw The Saratov Approach. It is an amazing movie!! I cried the whole way through. I would have started ugly crying, but there were 6 elders around, so I kept my dignity. Boys don't need to see that kind of stuff until they are married. I loved the pictures of the nieces and nephews! We have the cutest family!! And the cute air balls with the quotes were adorable! I have them sitting in a vase in my desk. What a cute idea! I have been showing all the members that I've seen the pictures of the kids. I just die every time I look at it! Really, thank you guys so much for all the warm messages, letters, drawn pictures, and all. It really made my day and really made me feel so loved!! Just what I have needed!! And only 10 weeks until I see Mom and Dad and then only 13 until I see the rest of you! DING! Elder Ashton as made it a point to make a dinging sound every time that I make a reference to going home. Bring on the dings!
Celine and Torunn sent me packages in the mail too. They were the cutest!! I am so lucky to have so many people that I have gotten to know and love. Also, Kirsti, her daughters Julia, and Helena, and Lisbeth, all from Sandefjord, drove down to have a birthday lunch with me!! I am so grateful!! It was so great to see them!! It has been a good day so far!! I woke up to text messages at 6:30 am from missionaries throughout the land, so that was way fun. And the Elders brought me homemade gifts,as in Granola Bars from Sweden, and an old Cd that's scratched left over from an long gone elder. I have a great distrikt! And great friends and family! Tonight, we are headed to one of my favorite member's house, The Pedersons, to have Family Home Evening. Wellah is amazing! I am so excited, and I am pretty sure there is going to be cake! Yummy!
I must admit that I opened my package Saturday night. It was actually the perfect day to do so. That morning during personal studies I was looking through my book of talks to find one to read and I came upon some of your emails and letters. I read through a few and they made me start to cry. I don't think you guys know of the strength you've been to me on my mission. Your words, your thoughts, your prayers, and fasting, it has all blessed my life and my mission. I know many of the blessings that I have received and miracles that I have seen have come from the prayers you guys have prayed. I look back and I'm amazed at the blessing that have come to me and to all of you. I have heard stories of accepting new calls, listening to inspiration, giving talks, teaching with the missionaries, a baptism, temple work, nieces and nephews praying in faith, overcoming trials, being protected, enduring, learning, and finding happiness through all. It seems so much has happened and changed, but at the same time, nothing at all. I know that when we are back together again it will seem like no time has passed. I'm grateful I got to share so much of my mission with you guys. I'm grateful for the strength you have given me. I don't think you will ever know how much it has meant, and how much I have grown from your experiences. Berfore I went out I remember being so worried about leaving you guys. I had been in Russia and I wasn't even home yet, when I told you all I would be serving a mission. Your support and love helped me to go. Your faith and prayers has helped me to stay. I have seen that the Lord has done more with these 16 months than I ever could do. The Lord's hand is in our lives, that I am sure of. And though we may pass through trials and times of darkness it is only to bring us closer to the Savior. #familyisforever
I must admit that my heart is heavy as I write this email. That sounded quite dramatic and sophisticated at the same time, but I guess this is what a 22 year old sounds like? Thoughts? I learned about the experience with Millie and the Parr Family. First I must say that I am so grateful that Millie and all are doing well. I am extremely grateful for my blessing I received and that I have been able to have faith that you were all doing alright. I am glad that you were all together as well, I can't imagine how terrifying it all was. This week I have been thinking about you all a lot. You have each been in my prayers by name and with lots of details. I know that isn't much, but I hope you guys know that I love you all. Every time I think about the Parr family I start to tear up. There are so many hard things that we pass through in this life. Brigham Young once said "We are not going to suffer more than what is for our own good." Unfortunately, suffering is a part of this life. Sadness, heartache, loss, and darkness come, and often we began to question why. I have had those own moments in my life. I have had those moments on my mission. I don't know what it is like to be a mom that has lost a child, or nearly lost her child, or to be parents who have to stand by helplessly as their children make decisions that aren't good for them, but I do have a testimony that this gospel is real, and that the bonds of a family exist beyond this life. And no one can ever take that away from us. This gospel is for the happiness of us all. The Lord loves us, and knows us. We never travel alone. So no matter if we are struggling, lost, or even far away from home, there is always a way back, there is always light to be found. I'm grateful to be a missionary and to spend every day testifying of God's love. I wish I could put my arm around everyone of you and all of the Parrs and tell each of you that it is going to be okay, but I'm not there. I know that our Father in Heaven longs to do the same. And we will each have that experience when we return back to Him. We will each be able to sit down and go through all of our trials and ask Him why, and He will not be annoyed or silent, He will explain to us how it helped us to be molded, He will explain to us how it made us more like Him. And He will show us how he was there every step of the way. God is real. He loves his children. And He will not fail us.
Goodness, I'm quite the sob fest today. My apologies!! This week was actually an AMAZING week! I expressed last week that I was struggling a little having a Norwegian comp and only speaking Norsk, but I am really so grateful for Sister Trydal. It isn't like serving with Sister Thurgood or Sister McArthur. With them it was like serving with a best friend which was fun, but it can also be challenging to push each other. With Sister Trydal although we aren't exactly alike (actually quite opposites) we work well together and the work is easy. Throughout my whole mission I have looked back on my first area, Trondheim, and thought how I wanted to go back to that time. But this last week I kept thinking to myself that its the happiest I've been since Trondheim. My mission really is ending on the highest note so far. Things are going well! We had the opportunity to teach many last week! That was so great. Its funny because now that I have a Norwegian companion, no one can understand me. So many people this week, after I said something, would look at her and say "Can you translate? I don't speak English." We've had to start singing hymns in our head to keep from laughing. I constantly find myself among Norwegians, and the loner American. It's so weird! I feel like I've been given access to this secret club. The Norwegian club, if you will. It's been fun! I sometimes don't understand anything that is going on, but I just smile and nod.
Sister Trydal speaks Ny Norsk. It's the old Norwegian that was spoken hundreds of years ago. It's so funny because even when she reads, she reads things that are in the Bokmål dialect in Ny Norsk. Then we get investigators that have crazy dialects and I just get lost! I have started to pick up on some of her words which is probably not my best idea, but when you hear it all the time it just gets stuck! I think people get confused by blanding of everything.
This week I have focused on prayer. A few weeks ago Elder Ashton challenged us to work on our prayers. I studied about praying and why it was so important, and then I decided to challenge myself to pray for 20 minutes every night before I went to bed. I am proud to say that I have done it each night, and I have been so blessed by it. My whole perspective has started to change. I have seen that I have thought less about myself and more about others. Its been so much easier to help others and know how to help, but also how to not wear myself out. I have just thought to myself, why haven't I done this sooner? It has really made such a difference, not in necessarily how many people we taught or baptized, but my happiness and ability to keep going.
To tell quickly about a few of the cool experiences we had this week I will start with Sadun. Sadun came to church again, along with another investigator. He wore a suit this week. Although it is hard to communicate with him because of the language, we meet with him often. One day we were talking about trials. He was struggling with things and he was telling us about thme the best way he could. I asked him if he felt like God answered his prayers. His face lite up and the Spirit in the room changed. He said YES!! And went on to tell us about a time he prayed he would be able to see his children and then he ran into them at a restaurant with their mother. He cried while he told the story. Afterwards, I was able to teach him to pray and then help him to say the closing prayer. It was really a neat experience for me. I loved seeing the happiness that came to him as he remember the blessing the Lord had given him. Another amazing person that we met this week was Benta. We had called a number in our phone and asked if we could teach him more about the gospel. His name is Jørn, and he agreed we could come on Saturday. We had one of our members come with us. We got there and there was a lady there too. We started our lesson and it quickly became apparent that Jørn was not interested, but Benta was. Like any good missionary would, all of our attention turned to her. She told us that she had been Pensie before and a Jehovah Witness. She explained that she that those weren't true and that she wanted to find the truth. And then she kept talking and started talking about everything that lies in Moroni 10. She talked about needing to be honest and sincere and that God gives each of us different gifts. The Spirit was so strong. Our member did an amazing job! It was a great teach. She really felt the Spirit and wanted to read the Book of Mormon so badly. Sadly though, she said that she wanted to take the BoM and then read it and think about it, and then call us. We are praying our hearts out that she calls soon! I know that she will find the gospel some day, but I don't know when. She really was a miracle though. It strengthened my faith that God prepares and guides us.
Well, I love you all! This was a long email, but it was a good week! Again thanks for all the birthday wishes!! You guys are the best! It won't be long and we will all be back together again! DING! I'll send some pictures!!!
Keep it real. Keep it classy. And may the odds be ever in your favor!
P.S. One of the Seventy is coming next week for our yearly Mission Tour. I think my Pday won't be until Thursday, but I'm not really sure the situation. I will keep you posted!! And in September Elder Bednar is coming for a huge Stake Conference. Exciting times!!