Coming at you once again from my swivel chair in the Skive church building I present.... the week :
K* is doing really well. We changed his baptismal date to the 27th of May and we set another step by step plan with him yesterday on how he will be able to reach it. He said that the last one might have been too quick of a stop plan, but in retrospect he wasn't going the full nine yards haha. The main thing is that he has a ton of buddies who always are over (one is couch-surfing right now) and they all smoke so it is pretty easy to see how he would be tempted to get off schedule. Aside from that though, we had a way great lesson on faith and repentance and then followed up the next day with a lesson on baptism again. It is really staring to sink in for him! He also says that because it is too boring to just read the Book of Mormon, he writes it out instead haha. Fine enough :)... He wrote out the Book of Mormon (not the whole book but the actually book within the whole) and now he is 5 chapters deep in the Book of Helaman. It is actually pretty crazy how big of a difference it makes for him because he will just whip out all this knowledge of what he read and explain what is going on in what he is writing down. So its clicking for K*
Jimmi and Vivi had their twins!! They are way cute:) They're going through some crazy issues with the government concerning the whole thing because past issues but the thing is that the government has no right because in Denmark your record restarts more or less after 5 years in order to give people fresh starts. I don't fully understand the process, nor is it my place, but all you need to know is that because of the faith of Jimmi and Vivi and the members here, it is all working out:) Elder Baadsgaard shared a talk called "When life gets one degree colder" that talks about like could always be one degree colder. In other words, it could always be worse and Jimmi has adopted that as his life motto. They're doing really well and as far as the health of Vivi and the twins there are no problems.
We have been doing a lot of finding as of late because our pool of people to work with has cycled out a lot of the potential investigators we had but that's just the process. We were out knocking in a place called Mønsted and we had some neat experiences! We have really been praying that we can find another family to teach so that the Skive branch won't die out 15 years down the road, and we found two potential families on the same road:) With the first family we knocked into, we didn't get a ton of time to talk, as they were on their way out their door, but we were able to explain about the Book of Mormon and they took a copy. It was sweet because the 10 or so year old girl showed more excitement than her mom but i believe her mom was pretty interested as well. We will see what happens but we feel pretty good about it and they told us to swing by this week:)
Family number two got me way stoked... so a bit of a fore-note to this story: For some reason i really wanted to speak Spanish with somebody. Not really sure why but it must have been withdrawals or something haha who knows. But anyhow, about 2 minutes after we knocked into the last family, we knocked into a family of Argentinians :D Apparently the husband's grandparents are danish so somehow they ended up back in Denmark but they were full on from Argentina. We introduced ourselves and then i asked where she was from because i heard her accent and she said Argentina, so i tried switching right on over from Danish to Spanish.You want to know what that felt like? Have you ever ridden a bike where you shift up into third gear and it works for about 10 seconds and then slips back down into second gear? Thats what happened... I got about 25 seconds (maybe) of convo and then i abandoned ship. (sorry Mrs. McKinney hahaha). The woman switched right back over with me and then we had a great little chat. She said we were welcome to come back as well at the end and that maybe it would help my spanish ;) So i shifted back into third gear to say that would be great and to have a good day and then retreated back to second gear. Then the language Olympics were over.
I had the wonderful occasion to be on splits with Elder Magleby and we did work! Here is one cool experience we had while knocking:
We were in an apartment building and we knocked the whole thing but no one had answered the door. On the way in i had gotten way hyped because on the mailbox was a Spanish name (this was the day before we met our Argentinian friends) so you bet i prayed that they would be home. They didnt answer... the first time:) We exited the building after no one had answered and then heard sound coming from the open window of the apartment that i had hoped would contain Spanish speakers (or just anyone because no one had answered for like 15 minutes) So i told Elder Magleby we gotta try again... and that is how we found a way cool girl girl from Romanian who has actually very interested. So one more positive investigator for the Herning Elders:)
To my credit, her name is also one they use in Spain so don't worry, i'm not a crazy american that runs around thinking everyone is from a Latin american/Spanish speaking country. Like i said i don't know why i was so stoked this week about that. I'd venture to say though the Lord knew i would make sure to knock that door again if i thought i might have an opportunity to use my Spanish, as rusty as it is. You understand more and more what God means about working in mysterious ways the more you trust that they will work.
We have taken a lot of time this week in the less productive parts of the day to visit members and help them continue to become missionaries. Something that Skive has opened my eyes to is how we can use the members, and should use the members, to spread the gospel. The classic approach goes like this:
-Have some sort of appointment with the members (usually an eating appointment)
-share a spiritual thought with them
-ask them for their friends that we could go visit
It isn't quite so blunt and robotic as i make it out to be here, and it is not 100 percent of the time, but that is what happens in effect and that is the general feel between members and missionaries. Due to the fact that the members are very old and seasoned people here in Skive, literally everybody knows they are a member and have talked with them at some point. So we have been pushing to help them take it up with the Lord with how they can share the gospel, whether it be by example, through talents, or by straight up inviting. Most members of the church do the first two, but it is the inviting part that poses as a daunting task. They thing is though, so many more people are brought into the Church by members of the church than by missionaries through member missionary work and that is why we here about it all the time from the General Authorities.
But to come full circle, we have promised the members that if they are willing share the gospel, the same gospel that has changed their lives completely, then the "what" and the "how" will be shown unto them through the power of prayer. Everybody has at least one friend,family member, acquaintance, etc that could and would change their lives and follow Jesus Christ if only they knew what joy it would bring. And they can know, if we open are mouths.
The title of this email refers to a talk given in Stake Conference this last Sunday. Though it was absolutely wonderful to see all the people i love from all of the wards i've served in in Jylland and on Fyn, a talk given by a guy named Tobias from the Sønderborg ward, age 16. It was incredible to watch the spirit work through him, and though 16 years old, he gave a powerful testimony that stuck with me. The premise of his talk was based off of the story, "The Ugly Duckling" by the famed danish fairy-tale writer, H.C Andersen. This is a story we have probably all heard of to some extent; but if not, look it up:)
Here is an excerpt of the story that fits with what he talked about:
And so they made themselves comfortable; but the poor duckling, who had crept out of his shell last of all, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, not only by the ducks, but by all the poultry. “He is too big,” they all said, and the turkey cock, who had been born into the world with spurs, and fancied himself really an emperor, puffed himself out like a vessel in full sail, and flew at the duckling, and became quite red in the head with passion, so that the poor little thing did not know where to go, and was quite miserable because he was so ugly and laughed at by the whole farmyard. So it went on from day to day till it got worse and worse. The poor duckling was driven about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, “Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you,” and his mother said she wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him with her feet. So at last he ran away, frightening the little birds in the hedge as he flew over the palings.
What i got out of his talk was this: Sometimes we are that ugly duckling. Sometimes we are "bitten and pushed and made fun of... and laughed at by the whole farmyard." The world is concerned temporal things, being "born into the world with spurs, and fancied [themselves], puffed out like a vessel in full sail.... and quite red in the head with passion." Following Jesus Christ is not easy in a world of "isms". Secularism,agnosticism, atheism, and other "isms" are taking the majority. We can feel rejected and outcast, hated of the world. And why? As expressed so beautifully through this youth's testimony,"that we may one day become magnificent swans."
That is what is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether we feel like this ugly duckling because of others or because of ourselves, The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"
The result of realizing and accepting the sacrifice of the Savior will be similar to the ugly ducklings experience:
"But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.Into the garden presently came some little children, and threw bread and cake into the water.“See,” cried the youngest, “there is a new one;” and the rest were delighted, and ran to their father and mother, dancing and clapping their hands, and shouting joyously, “There is another swan come; a new one has arrived.”
We too can one day hear the joyous shouts of "there is another swan come; a new one has arrived!” if we so choose to to reach our potential. I add my testimony to the testimony of Tobias, that we can become all that our Heavenly Father has promised we can be, though change made possible by the Savior. And he will walk with us every step of the way.
Have a great week!