Monday, February 29, 2016

Ja Jeg Elsker Dette Landet!‏

Wow... uh... how do I start the last email of my mission... hmm.. maybe with a quote from my awesome big sister:

"So I bet you're feeling all sort of emotions, huh?? I can only imagine the excitement, sadness, eagerness, longing, impatience.... And wanting time to go faster and slower all at once!"
Uh. Yup! That about hits the nail on the head! :) So I really could just end this email there ;)
But I won't because there was LOTS that happened.  I'll try to keep it short, but detailed because well... packing and whatnot... :)
Charlene came to church!!!! WOOHOO!!! That was awesome!  And Eline came to church too since it was my last week! (Side note: it will be super weird to hear the sacrament prayers in english again) Søster Peterson and I also sang in sacrament meeting again :)As we were sitting in Sunday School, Bishop came in and motioned for Søster Peterson and I to come.  So we left Eline and a member to take care of Charlene (Takk Eline), and went out.  Apparently the Singing Time leader for Primary hadn't come, and they needed us to come and lead singing time.  Yeah, I've never done that in my life.  But Norwegian kids are probably the best and cutest kids in the world and they love to sing, so it was super fun! 
We made a little Scripture-A-Day thing for a less active member.  Have any of you tried to write a scripture for every day of the year? by hand? woah! Our hands are sore.  But when we gave it to her, her face was PRICELESS!  She's the sweetest!
Some other fun things?
- I stood on the fjord!! 
- We went to do service at the old folks home and were greeted with lots of smily old faces :) Sweet moment.
-The Solberg family is basically the best.  The best ever.  They want to make sure I never forget Norwegian, so they gave me a book of fairytales, three movies, and a cd of an awesome Norwegian band :)  I love them so much.  SO MUCH!!!! 
Welp, that's about the time that I have to write.
I love Norway.  I know you all know that, but I just needed to say that.  I love this country and I love these people and their silly traditions and their obsession with nature, and their cheese slicers, and their wool sweaters!  I LOVE THEM!  Every last one of them. 
I love the gospel.  I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ with all that I have.  I LOVE THIS CHURCH.  I love the peace that living the gospel brings.  I have loved every minute of my mission.  Maybe not in the moment sometimes, but looking back, I LOVE my trials.  I wouldn't trade them and the lessons I've learned for all the Norwegian chocolate in the world! :)
-Søster Jessica Jo Heywood

1. Standing on the fjord 

2. Crashing ice waves on the shore. #onlyinnorway

Monday, February 22, 2016

4 gifts‏

Wow, Heavenly Father has really blessed me with a couple awesome weeks to end the mission on!  SO many little tender mercies. I mean, missionary work is still hard.  It always has been and it always will be, but it's the little joys, if you find them, that make it all worth it.  Kinda like life eh?  
Charlene is a CHAMPION! We taught her on Tuesday and on Friday.  On Tuesday, we got to bring a member who has lived in Brazil (Where Charlene comes from).  It was so helpful.  We answered her questions about the Book of Mormon, then each shared a scripture that has helped us personally.  This stellar member, Synne, shared Ether 12:27. (I thought of you Mom.) A little while into explaining why she liked it, she started speaking Portugeuse so Charlene could fully understand.  The Spirit was SO strong.  I glanced over at Charlene, and she was crying.  She asked Synne, "How did you know?  I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it through this week."  Synne bore her testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are our best friends and that NO MATTER WHAT, they will be there for us to strengthen us and love us.  It was a beautiful moment.
We went back on Friday to teach her the Plan of Salvation.  Before we started teaching it however, we asked if she had any questions about what she has been reading in the Book of Mormon.  She had a few little questions, then asked, "Sisters, do you ever wonder why in the world we are here?  Like why am I even on the Earth??!" #CanYouSpellPrepared? We showed her the scripture in Alma about preparing to meet God.  She said, "What do we need to do to prepare?" We continued on to teach the Plan of Salvation, and as we taught about Earth life, we taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End).  We wrote down the list for her and she looked at it carefully then said, "OH! That's why you asked me to get baptized! That's the next step for me! How soon can I get baptized?? Do you think a month and a half is enough time to prepare??"  Our mouths kinda dropped open.  Her understanding is amazing! We barely even have to teach! haha! So yup! That's Charlene.
We had Zone Conference this week and since it was my last one, I got asked to bear my testimony.  Or as most missionaries call it BURNimony.  Or as President calls is LAUNCHimony.  So yep! That was fun. It kinda hit me though and I found myself looking back through my mission (it's been happening a lot lately) at all the times my testimony has been strengthened and how.  I realized something.  Heavenly Father helps us to strengthen our testimonies in SPECIFIC ways thought SPECIFIC experiences.  I remember early on my mission begging Heavenly Father for a testimony of Jesus Christ.  Like the unshakable kind.  Because of that I had an experience that I can't deny.  Jesus is the Christ.  I know that now.
anywho... I guess back to this week.  We took down some more wallpaper at Kay's house, went on a walk with the Relief Society that went along the beach (Covered in snow) and through some forests, ate some oysters, watched the Restoration movie with Bjørn Ivar, and played the piano for primary (little rusty).  
Now for the AH-HA moment of the week:  God has obviously given us a lot of gifts in this life.  If we are to narrow it down to four gifts, you might say; Jesus Christ, our agency, our families, and our bodies.  (At least that's what I would say, email me with others if ya want).  So four gifts.  I realized this week that everything that Satan does or has done attacks one of these four gifts.  We know that Satan attacks the body.  He's jealous.  He wants us to abuse and misuse our bodies in every way.  We know he attacks the family.  Hundreds of examples with that one.  Abortion, Divorce, Infidelity, etc.etc.etc.  He attacks our agency.  This one is a little more subtle.  Addiction takes that away.  Really, if you think about it, any kind of sin takes away agency.  He loves to attack this one and he has been doing that from the beginning.  Sometimes he attacks all three of these gifts at the same time.  But what about the fourth?... We know that Satan tempted Jesus Christ: attacked Him really.  But the difference with this one is that Jesus Christ has already won.  He overcame everything.  And because of Him, we can overcome any attacks that the devil throws our way.  And we will have the blessing of living with our Savior again, with our families, our agency, and our glorified and resurrected bodies.  We just have to choose to follow Him and His example.
That about sums up the week!!  I'm excited to see you all in a little while!  I LOVE YOU!!!!! 

Søster Heywood
The four leaving søsters at Zone Conference

The sign pointing to the church in Oslo

 Our walk with the Relief Society

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Norwegian Mother's Day! (And Valentines Day) :)‏

Kjære Fam,
Yup! Mother's day here in Norway is on the second sunday of February, so that means that this year, it fell on Valentines day!  SO HAPPY Mother's day Mom!!!
Let's see... this week... OOH! We had an awesome day on Wednesday.  Like, literally it was the day that every missionary dreams about.  No cancelled appointments, members on teaches, every hour has something productive to do, and you just feel BUSY!  It was the best! We met with Magni in the morning and just kinda had a "okay here's the dealio" type lesson with her which ended with her committing to praying about the Book of Mormon specifically! She has never said a solid YES to that commitment so it's coming for her slowly but surely.  After we taught her, we went and picked up our ward mission leader's wife, Evelyn to come with us to teach Bjørn Ivar.  Evelyn is hilarious! And so pregnant! haha! We taught Bjørn Ivar and I think it's going to be a slow process for him too.  I think right now he is just really into comparing our church with other churches numberwise.  So I mean, that's pretty lame. BUT!  Right after his lesson we went to pick up the elders and drive to the Karlssons house for dinner.  They are arguably one of the absolute cutest member families here.  (And if you listen to conference talks in Norwegian, it's usually the dad's voice).  They used to live in Utah, and the kids LOVE speaking English with us. We asked the boys where they would want to go on their missions and one of them said ,"OREM UTAH!!" haha! 
We took the elders back to the city, and drove out to Nesøya, an island pretty close to Sandvika, to contact a referral.  Her name is Charlene, and she is from Brazil.  GET THIS.  She met the elders a few months ago, and at the time she was married to a Norwegian man, who didn't believe in God and didn't like that she believed.  Later, and for other reasons too I'm sure, they got divorced and the elders happened to call her up again asking if she was interested right after it happened.  So when we called her, she said, "Are you bringing me that book?? I NEED that book!" So of course we told her that we had The Book of Mormon and would bring it to her.  We came to her house Wednesday night and taught her about the Restoration.  Her face lit up as we showed her a picture of Alma baptizing in the waters of Mormon.  She said, "You guys do baptism like that??? I want to be baptized like that!!"  So we helped her set a baptismal date for the 26th of March.  She is so prepared!
On Sunday we had a lesson about adversity and how it is necessary for our eternal progression.  One sister expressed a concern about her sister who had some kind of mental illness and could hardly think for herself.  She said, "What is she supposed to learn from her trial? She can't learn from it."  For some reason, my mind went to my little cousin Emma, and I thought to myself, "What is she supposed to learn?" hmm... Then I had another thought: Maybe it's not her that needs the lesson.  Emma has taught everyone in our family a little bit about Christlike love.  We needed that.  We don't know all the answers to all of the whys, but we can choose to take a lesson from any situation.  Anyway, just some thoughts going around in my head.  I'm excited to see that sweet little girl again :)
On Thursday, we got a call from a number that niether of us had.  She said that she needed help.  We tried to get more information, but she just gave us her address and said that she needed help.  So, we got in the car, and headed to the address she gave us.  We walked into her already open front door into the most disgusting place I have ever been.  There were cigarrette butts and piles of black gunk everywhere.  There was a closet practically falling apart with bags of garbage inside of it, and there was a scary one-eyed cat that had a nasty habit of spreading it's food all over the apartment.  I looked around the room, and saw a lady sitting on her couch (if you could call it a couch).  She looked relieved that we came and asked us if we could take her to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine.  Unfortunately, there is a missionary rule that says we can't do that, so she decided to call a taxi instead.  We ended up staying for an hour or so and cleaning her apartment.  (Mom, I'll have you know, I can handle ANY mess now :) I think that year and a half of CNA work helped a little too).  I did her dishes, then went to put them away and realized that every dish she owned had food on it.  So I washed them.  ÆSJ.  Yup! Still had no idea who this lady was, but I took a pause from cleaning and leaned down to talk to her for a little while.  Apparently, she had met missionaries a year ago, and still had their number.  When she was looking through her phone for someone to come and help her, the saw the missionaries' number and thought, "I KNOW they'll help!".  Then she went on to express her thanks and how much it meant to her that we came.  then we told her about the Word of Wisdom. So moral of the story: 1. Don't smoke.  It's gross.  2. Be the type of person that other people will say, "I know they will help." about.

Some other fun things:
-The reason I'm late emailing today is because the elders needed haircuts.  So guess who cut their hair #AuntCatieWouldBeSoProud!
-We had a mix up on Saturday and ended up eating two dinners in a row.  I was literally in pain! haha!
-We found a giant chair today and sat on it :)

How about a quote to end on?  Our district meeting this week was about the Atonement and it was SO good!! I've been wondering about certain ways the atonement applies to missionary work, and I asked the question, "Does the Atonement still work if you feel like you make the same stupid mistake every day?"  And one of the missionaries, Elder Rolfsen, said something awesome.  "The thing about a mission is that you push as hard as you can, and it is NEVER enough.  And that's humbling.  THAT is where the Atonement comes in."  It was definitely food for thought.  I'm still trying to fully understand the Atonement, and I have a feeling it will be a lifelong process to figure it out.  I'm so thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know He lives.  I know he loves us.  He loves us so much. 
D&C 122:7-9
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pitor into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deepif the billowing surge conspire againstthee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouthwide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experienceand shall be for thy good.
 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore,fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.
Love ya Fam!!!!
Vi snakkes!
Søster Heywood
  Some late night contacting

Giant Chair!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Who can glory too much??‏

Kjære Fam,
This week has felt SUPER LONG.  I mean, it was really good, but just felt way long.  Let's see... On Tuesday the Sister Training Leaders came and this time it was Søster Carpenter (The only other sister who has greenied in Ålesund) and Søster Williams (My companion from the MTC).  I spent the whole day with Sister Williams! Oh! And it was Norwegian only week so there was no speaking English allowed!  Wow.  That was a super experience.  It was fun to see how much we've both grown since the MTC.  The day was so crazy! We visited a less active, taught the shortest lesson I've ever taught on my mission, banked on some doors, etc etc etc.  It was a blast!
So a few weeks ago, Søster Peterson and I were weekly planning and we decided to call the volunteer center in Sandvika to see if we could get a service project going.  cuz we miss doing service of course.  They gave us a job of visiting an old folks home and just talking to the residents there since the CNAs don't have time to sit and listen.  Oh man, that was the DREAM!! I mean, of course there was a ridiculous amount of dejavu from the Family Tree, except this time, everyone was speaking Norwegian.  I repeat, THE DREAM! haha!  We went into their little cafeteria where they can all eat for free and everyone else can buy something to eat.  This old lady walked up behind us and said, "I'm paying for these two beautiful girls!"  I mean, we had already eaten lunch and weren't even planning on eating anything, but when we protested, she said, "I insist. You girls are taking time to come chat with us, the least I can do is make sure you're not hungry".  And if there's one thing I've learned on my mission it's that when a Norwegian lady says "I insist", you best not say no. haha! So we had a koselig lunch with a table of the funniest cutest old ladies ever.  It meant so much to them that we were there.  (Especially when they heard that we had come "all the way from America").
On Friday we were getting ready to leave the house when we got a call from one of our investigators, Bjørn Ivar, saying, "Sisters! I want you to come teach me about your church in an hour!"  We already had an appointment set up with him for nest week, so it was really weird to get this call from him.  So we called one of our member missionaries (An 80 year old woman mind you), and she was happy to come and help us teach him.  We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was really cool to see how he recognized the truth of what we were saying.  Also, he thought that Jesus Christ was baptized as a baby.  So uh... It made a lot more sense to him that Jesus Christ actually chose to be baptized.
Mom, I loved hearing about Grandpa finding his journal from the 70s! I would love to help with that project!  Man! sometimes I wish I had more time out here to do family history.  Hopefully all the grandparents are up for an interview when I get home :)  We went to a member's house this week to help her and her husband scan in pictures to familysearch.  It was so fun!  We found a new challenge on the website that I'm excited to figure out more when I get home, but it all worked out in the end :)

Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and as I'm sitting there I start thinking, "huh. Søster Johannessen went home on Friday.  That's kinda nice that she gets to have a testimony meeting as her first Sunday home.  Wait, that's how it will be for me too.... wait.... THAT'S NEXT MONTH! wait.... this is my last testimony meeting in Norway. GAH!!" Yup! That's kinda what went on in my head for the first few minutes of the meeting. Uff da.  But at the same time, I didn't really feel like I needed to get up and bear my testimony, since I already spoke in church like 2 weeks ago.  So I just listened.  Until Borghild, my favorite 91 year old member EVER stood up and with great difficulty got herself up to the stand (There's no deacons with a microphone here).  That's when the Spirit said to me, "Look how much effort she just went through so that people could hear her testimony.  You need to put in a little effort so that these members know that you have a testimony.  This is your last chance to tell them." So before I knew it, I was up on the stand. Teared up, but didn't cry *insert fist pump*.
I've been reading in Alma lately and I just read Alma 26.  I think this has been my favorite chapter for a long time, but something different hits me every time!  It's the story of the sons of Mosiah coming back from their "missions".  And Ammon just can't hold it in.  The joy of the work they have accomplished is to big for him to keep inside and Alma 26 is the result.  I especially noticed v. 16 this time: 

16 Therefore, let us gloryyea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy,and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, say unto you, cannot say the smallest part which feel.
Who can glory too much in the Lord?  Don't give in to Satan's lie that some people are "too churchy" or "a little too Mormon".  I hope for the rest of my life people can know me as the "way Mormon" girl.  the Book of Mormon has changed my life.  Because of it, I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He will live again.  Because of it, I know that I know that everyone on this earth is a child of God (myself included) and as such every person on this earth has a divine purpose and an indescribable worth.  Because of the Book of Mormon, I know that my Heavenly Father is aware of me.  God is not an abstract power that people have created to give them comfort.  He is real.  He is there.  But we have to turn to Him first.  We find Him as we take that step of hope into the dark.  He will always be there.  That's not just a nice idea, that is truth. I won't go on forever because like Alma, "I cannot say the smallest part of what I feel" :)  
Quote of the week: "A person with an experience is NEVER at the mercy of a person with an opinion!" -Hank Smith.  There are a lot of people in this world with opinions about what I believe, but there is not a single person in this world who can convince me that I have not experienced God's love.
Love you all!!! Have a great week!!!!
-Søster Heywood
p.p.s Ya know Claude Monet? Søster Heywood's favorite artist? of course you do :) He painted this bridge.  And I stood on it! WOAH!

Last Month... wha???‏

February 1, 2016

Dear Family,
Wow, this week went by so fast.  I feel like I was just barely emailing.  uff da.  What even happened this week?
Let's see, on Monday, Søster Peterson and I had quite a few errands to run, one of which was getting new windshield wipers for the car.  We felt pretty clueless walking up to the car place in our skirts holding the old wipers because we had no clue which ones we needed... I think the guy who helped us realized we didn't know anything about cars.  (And needless to say, my Norwegian vocab when it comes to cars is pretty limited).  Yup! Turns out they didn't even have the ones we needed, so we had to go to a different store and go through the process all over again.  Then we had to figure out how to even put the new ones on.... oi. And that's just windshield wipers!!! Laugh all you want, I'm still clueless with cars :)
One morning this week we decided to go on a walk around our neighborhood and talk to anyone who was outside.  So we get walking and pretty soon we're on a road leading into a bunch of trees... I mean, there's a few houses, but it's pretty much a good ole Norwegian forest.  But for some reason, we felt like we should keep going.  So we did, and we ended up talking to this really awesome guy named Johan.  We asked him if he believed in God, and he said, "I want to, but I don't feel like the Bible is complete.  I feel like there's more." uhh... Johan, you're on to something there. :) So we talked to him for a little while longer, and got his number and continued on our way.  only to run into him again later #Ipromisewe'renotstalkers.
Our investigator from Germany, Thomas is doing well.  We had an awesome appointment planned with him, but he ended up needing to work.  Boo.  People with their jobs and whatnot... :) BUT! He came to church on Sunday, and loved it!  And he says he'll be coming back next week. WOOHOO!
We took a road trip to Hønefoss on Saturday to visit the members out there. LOTS of time in a car.  Oi.  We visited three families, and ate a full meal at each of them.  Lots of food, lots of sitting. :) I love the people we visited though.  One of them, Arne Pedersen, reminds me a lot of Dad.  It reminded me of when dad would say, "I know something about everything, but I don't know everything about anything." haha! Really though, this guy was SOO smart, and no matter what the conversation topic was, he had a bunch of fun facts up his sleeve.
Right now I'm reading in the Book of Mormon and just finished Mosiah.  I guess it kinda hit me again how important Abinadi's role was.  I mean, his story really only takes up a couple chapters and he is awesome!! The Lord commands him to do something, and he does it, even though he died probably thinking that he didn't influence anybody.  Probably thinking, "Well, no one listened...", but little did he know that Alma was listening.  Alma would lead a group of 4ooish people out in the wilderness to be baptized.  That same Alma would become the high priest of the city of Zarahemla.  I'm pretty positive Abinadi had a sucessful mission.  Sometimes we don't see the results of the things that we do until later, but when the Lord commands, and we follow, miracles happen.
Love ya fam!! Have a great week!!!
-Søster Heywood