I hope everyone had as good of a week as I did! First thing, we got brand new Swedish and Norwegian missionaries last Wednesday to replace the ones that left. They are all so great!! There are 3 Norwegian sisters and 7 Norwegian Elders... A lot smaller than my group. It has been fun to be some sort of mentor to them. It also helps that they keep telling me how good I am at the language... Little do they know of my struggles. They are improving fast and will be soaring far above me in no time. (One of the sisters is Jeff Robbins niece, Sister Robbins! She is adorable!!)
Conference was amazing for so many reasons!!! I feel so lucky that I got to be with 3,000 missionaries all watching conference in the same room. It was awesome, but definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. When the conductor of the meeting said that Holland or Bednar was up next to speak you could hear all of the missionaries click their pens, get out their notebooks to start taking better notes and start paying closer attention. (They are the MTC favorites) I got to sit next to my cousin Alisha for three sessions of conference! It was so fun! Also weird/fun that she arrived and left all while I am still here! Best of luck to her in Arkansas.
I loved all of the talks. I wish I had time to analyze and write about every single one, but I will just pick a few.
I loved Edward Dube from Saturday morning. I do not know where he is from, but he reminded me of those cute Kenyans! I loved his message to "Never look back. It's not about where you have been but where you are willing to go." I loved that he related that to the early saints of the church, and also to missionary work. Holland's talk was awesome. I was surprised how his super personalized message could really apply to every member of the church. I, like Elder Holland love Stephanie Nielson's story. She has become such a good image for saints and people all over the work to look up to. He said, "Above all, NEVER lose faith in God." Of course, I also loved Ballard's talk about member missionary work! He gave all members a very specific commitment to do by Christmas! By inviting and reaching out to just ONE person, we have potential to impact more than 15 million people around the world! I hope you all have begun to pray about who that person is for you. :) I loved Elder Maynes' talk about building spiritual stamina. It was a creative analogy that really helped me put a perspective on what I need to do to become more converted. So, I don't know if anyone else caught on but when Elder David McConkie was talking about how to be a better Sunday school teacher, he was actually talking about how to be a better MISSIONARY! I felt like that talk was perfect for me. Not to mention, afterwards we sung CALLED TO SERVE!!!!!! We sing this song as an MTC probably at least 2 times a week together. During conference everyone was singing so loud, and the spirit was so strong. I don't know if it was because we were all standing but it touched my heart so differently this time. Knowing that everyone around the world, watching general conference live, was singing called to serve was incredible!
Okay I could keep going on and on about conference talks that I liked, but I will now tell you a little story. So in between conference sessions, I was enjoying my lunch with missionaries in my district. Two elder missionaries came and sat down and we started the normal missionary small talk. After I told them where I was headed they got SO excited to tell me there is an elder FROM Norway in their district. They continued to tell me that this elder's mom just passed away three days previously. He found out, went back to his dorms and packed his bags. He said a prayer and then he knew that he was not supposed to go home, that he was supposed to stay here and prepare to serve his mission in Greece. I was like, "FIND HIM RIGHT NOW I WANT TO TALK TO HIM!" I found this elder and immediately sat down and started blabbing to him. He laughed at my Norwegian, but I didn't care at all, IT WAS A REAL NORDSMAN. His name is Oliver Pederson, he is from a ward called Rumerike, just outside of Oslo. After getting to know each other and him answering my 50 questions, I got a little angel on my shoulder whispering something for me to do. Before I could even think about it the words just came out, "So Elder Pederson, now that we are friends and that you trust me, who in your life needs the gospel that I could find and teach once I get to Norway." Well sure enough, he gave me his brother's address and phone number! I am going to Norway with a referral!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited.
So a quick update on my status... I do not have my visa yet. I was able to talk to Don Love from the church office travel, and he unfortunately doesn't have more information than I already knew. It is just a waiting game at this point. The MTC has put our names in for a temporary reassignment as a back up plan. I will receive my state-side reassignment on Thursday or Friday of this week, then I could be shipped out as fast as Saturday and as slow as the Friday after that. If I get my visa anytime before I get shipped out I will obviously be going to Norway. If it doesn't come before I get on that plane, I will be staying in that state-side mission for at LEAST six weeks. Temporary reassigned missionaries have to stay for a full transfer to keep the dynamics of that mission running smoothly. I wish there was something that I could do, or knew to do, to speed up the processing of the visa. But ultimately I just keep remembering the words to that song, "I'll go where you want me to go!"
I am so happy to be here and so grateful to be a missionary for the Lord. Hardly do I find myself without a smile on my face! The church is true and the work is hastening. I hope you will all take a second to think about how the gospel has specifically helped and blessed you throughout your life. With all of those blessings and knowledge of the truth, we can all help so many people! Take Elder Ballard's challenge and reach out to those who are in need of the gospel, or even just a friend. Thank you again for all of your sweet notes, prayers and examples to me.