Dear Weasley Family and Friends,
First and foremost, I would like everyone to know that I woke up Wednesday morning, sat straight up, and thought "SHAWN'S BIRTHDAY IS IN NOVEMBER!!" I don't know what I was thinking! I think I just say that Sunday was the 7th and the just jumped the boat. Needless to say, I apologize for the 2 month early birthday wishing. Good news? I'll be home for you're real birthday, so I can just give you a call. #yourewelcome #stillhashtagging
Now that that's taken care of, we can move on. #1. Elder Gusty is now in my distrikt! I drove him and his comp home from Oslo yesterday and it was the best. Everyone asked me what I did to end up with Elder Ashton and Gusty in my distrikt, and really I don't know, but I'm pretty much dying with the best elders around. #feelinglucky #2. I saw TJ!! She's great. End of story. #3. I was 5 feet from Elder Bednar yesterday, and I talked to him and he asked me questions, and I about died.
You guys, ELDER BEDNAR IS SO COOL!!!! He is seriously one of the coolest people I have ever met. And his wife is AMAZING!! The whole thing was amazing. They are so real and personable. They make jokes and talk like us and think like us, except like 1000 times better. And the Spirit is so strong! They just have this light and way of saying things and the Spirit can just teach you everything that you need to know. I will start with the missionary meeting and work backwards. We had the missionary meeting after the conference. We didn't have much time in between so we had to leave the conference and book it to get to the other side of Oslo. We ate sack lunches on the way and got to the Oslo church and sat down and started reading our scriptures. Who can read your scriptures when an Apostle of the Lord is down stairs? I struggled to focus! When he came in we all stood up and the room filled with the Spirit. I think we were all a little nervous and worried. I sat there and thought "Oh my, I should memorize a scripture, or my purpose, or my name or something..." But he came in and the meeting started and when he got up to speak the first thing he talked about was that he would not be quizzing us. He talked about how when we make someone answer we turn them into an object instead of an agent. An object is acted upon, an agent acts. And he asked us to be willing to ask questions and have dialogues with him. I had already decided that I would just listen because I didn't feel like I had any questions, but the first question he asked was what did we learn from the talks he asked us to study, and the next thing I know my hand is in the air. It was like an out of body experience! I looked at my hand and thought, "Well heck, now it's too late." and then I thought that I should probably not be thinking that because he is an Apostle of the Lord and he can probably hear my thoughts. So I stood up and I explained that what I had learned was the power of questions, that even God, who knows everything asks us questions. Like in the garden after Adam ate from the Tree of Life. God comes and he says "Adam where art thou?" God knew where he was, but God wanted Adam to be an agent, not an object. He didn't want to say "Adam! I see you! Get over here NOW"! He understands that we learn better by choosing to act and not being acted upon, so he always offers us the choice. Elder Bednar asked me a few questions like why do I think that is, and how has it changed things for me. And then, like he did with all the comments and expounded upon it and told stories and used scriptures and asked more questions. It was the coolest thing! We talked a long time about everything we learned and then he opened up the conversation for questions. Everyone was very nervous to say anything at the beginning, but as the time went on we began to really believe that he wasn't going to ask us to recite D&C 4 or the principles of the Gospel backwards. He said "The Spirit doesn't play guess what's in my head." and that he wouldn't ask questions where we had to guess what answer he wanted, but that he would ask questions to know what he honestly thought. The Spirit was so strong. He did a lot of talking, but we did a lot of talking too and as we did we taught each other. It really taught me the power of learning together. Here we were with an Apostle of the Lord and he could tell us EVERYTHING. He has so many answers and so many experiences, but he was more interested in knowing our experiences and our thoughts. It was amazing.
I never did ask a question, but I had so many questions answered. One question was one I had had for about 8 years now, ever since I got my patriarchal blessing. My blessing mentioned that I have a certain gift, and I never understood how I did because I never felt like it. Actually, if you asked I would say it was one of my weaknesses, but then Elder Bednar said something about it yesterday, and he explained the two principles to the gift I have. I realized that I had spent so long beating myself up for not having what the Lord thought I had, and the only real problem was that I was looking at only one side of the gift. It was a huge weight reliever for me, and so much understanding flooded in. One of my favorite things that Elder Bednar said was that the most important teaching that we do is when we aren't speaking. He said "Teaching, is not talking." When we create an atmosphere where the Spirit can be, and we open our hearts, the Spirit can teach us what we need to know. I didn't raise my hand and ask Elder Bednar about this principle. I didn't even think about it as we sat there, but as he spoke the Spirit testified to me what I need to hear and taught me without words. I feel so blessed in uplifted from the experience! I almost don't want to go back to normal work because I don't want to lose the level of Spirit that we were able to experience while being with an Apostle. From the meeting I have decided that I want to work on praying as an agent and asking inspired questions and allowing people to teach themselves. I know that as I do this that the Spirit will be able to be there with far more abundance. ELDER BEDNAR AND SISTER BEDNAR ARE AMAZING! #sharegoodness #cantheycomeback
Before the missionary meeting, we had the conference with the members. Okay, lets talk about that for like 5 seconds. That was amazing! I got to see most of my members from all over Norway. I saw Torunn's whole family which was awesome. I saw Celine and got to meet her adorable mom, which I loved. I saw my convert, who I have completely forgiven for all the craziness of that. He is doing so great! I talked to the mishes that are there now and they said that he has stopped doing steroids and now is stabilized and doing amazing. He is planning on going on a mission next year. I told him I am way proud of him for everything that he has decided to do and all the progress he has made. He was so happy to see me! He said "I'm going to become the next Elder Hodgkiss!" What a cutie! I really believe he is my convert because I was the only one who could love him through all the other stuff. Proud of him! It was so good to see everyone and I felt so blessed to have that experience before going back home.
Of course, the meeting its self was amazing! Elder Bednar laid down the law. He was so bold which I loved. I told you guys about my patience and politeness running out? Well, before Elder Bednar spoke a few of the leaders from Norway spoke and it was all sunshine and roses. I thought to myself as everyone was talking about missionary work "We'll they aren't doing it, so why doesn't someone tell them that?" Then Elder Bednar got up and basically said, I'm not going to talk about missionary work because missionary work isn't the problem, your conversion is. He spoke about if you are truly converted to the gospel then you do missionary work. Bam! Hook, line, sinker, done. I wanted to clap! I wanted to praise his name forever! I turned to Torunn and said " You guys are going to have to change." That probably didn't make her too happy, but hey I'm only a missionary with an excuse to tell people what to do for 5 more weeks, then I have to find another excuse! Got to soak it up while I can! Sister Bednar spoke before him and she called a 6 year old little girl to come up to the podium. She turned to Elder Bednar and said "Can you help me get her on this table?" She then had the little girl stand on the table as she talked about how much we have to learn from children. Elder Bednar got up to speak and he said "My name is Elder Bednar and my job is to travel the world and help my wife with her visual aids." It was the cutest thing! You could see how much he loved her with everything he had. In our meeting with him he would often invite her up and have her answer questions or share experiences. He then said, "I would like to start by talking the those who are not members of our faith." And then he gave a perfect first lesson. It was amazing! I was so happy! I had multiple investigators there and inactives that I knew needed to hear that message. So inspired! He later spoke to the members about missionary work and that what they need to do is just live the gospel and then people will come to them and ask "Why are you so weird?" He asked how do you say weird in Norwegian, but he just said "WHAT?" after he was told. It was super funny. His whole talk was bold and unapologetic. I loved it. Norway needs that. You have to be direct or they just don't get it, and sometimes they need a couple of kicks in the behind before they get going. Elder Bednar told the members to not be scared about missionary work and if they are that they can talk to their bishop and get permission to go to primary for 3 weeks and then they will know all the answers they need know to be able tell people. I loved it! I loved how simple he made it. It is so true. We don't have to go into deep explanations. When people ask us why we are "weird" we can tell them its because we know that God lives and that he has a plan and that we are following that plan. Amazing talk! And the members and investigators loved it!
We also had the sister's conference this week, which was amazing. I cried like 9 times. We had a workshop on language and confidence in the morning and then we had lunch and "shopping". We all brought clothes we didn't want and then we could go and find other clothes. I got a new skirt that is adorable from Sister Frampton. I will have to send a picture next week! After that we had a workshop on obedience, and then Sister Evans talked to us, and then we broke out into activities. We did nail painting, sack lunch making for the conference the next day, and arts and crafts. Then we had dinner and dessert and then we talked for a little bit and drove to our places where we spent the night. It was so great! I sat with MAC and TJ and we talked forever. It was good to be together as sisters and just to cry whenever we wanted and play with each other's hair and not care about the boys. Girl time was much needed! We were also able to take our 17 Miracle picture. It's crazy because we have done 17 months and served with each other most of the time and we are still all best friends. We have decided that when someone gets engaged they have to call the other 16 and discuss dates so that no one is getting married at the same time. People are already calling dates, so I threw my second weekend of June out there so no one takes it. It was good to be with the girls. We have all come a long way. It was an uplifting meeting! One of my favorite quotes from it was "Have you ever stopped and looking in the mirror and asked yourself how God sees you, as a glorified woman?" Loved it!
As far as the normal part of my week goes, things are going well here. We met Zilfa's mother on the street this week and guess what? She invited us to come over and talk! And guess also what? She has cancer. And guess who used to have cancer? Me. Do you see how the Lord is working here. Small miracles, people. Small miracles. Elder Bednar said that the miracles that matter are the small ones. Everything is falling into place and we are having progress! Zilfa also sat down during one of the teaches and talked to me about what she believes happens after this life. It was cool. She called us her best friends yesterday. The kids are learning fast and have started to pray on their own. Belma said the cutest prayer. She told God that she missed him. I love kids. Salko is doing well and is loving the gospel. He is still on schedule to be baptized Sept. 27. We are hoping all the family can come and the kids can be baptized 2 weeks later. We will see though! Elder Bednar talked a lot about faith and he said " You can only have enough faith to do what God wants." If it is their time, it is their time, and God will make it happen. If it isn't, then their time will come, I know it! It was a great week! We celebrated Benedikte's birthday, a new convert from Alta, and went bowling. I won! We all scored low, but I got lucky in the end. Actually that bowling class I took to graduate early came in handy! This week we have a lot planned so it should be a great week! Looks like a great ending to my mission! #ding
I love you all and pray for your daily! I hope that you are all doing well!!
Keep it real. Keep it simple. And may the odds be ever in your favor!