Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Our district: Me, Elder Hoopes, Sister Dransfield, Sister Cook, Elder Johnson, Elder Jefferies
December 26, 2016


Merry Christmas everyone! Today is Second Christmas Day! or happy Boxing Day if you're into that. We're celebrating the fourth day of Christmas, and that's perfect for me!


This week was a really great. We spent a lot of time visiting people (which for me means meeting a lot of people) and getting to know them. I really enjoyed it.


Yesterday was the beloved day of Christmas!!! It was awesome. We went to this wonderful family's home for the evening and spent Christmas with them. We ate some great food, and played some games also. While I was there I Skyped my family back home and it was wonderful getting to see them and talk to them again!


On Lillejulaften (Dec 23rd), all of us missionaries got together and made a TON of cinnamon rolls (and yes, they were DELICIOUS). We made a bunch up and delivered them to a lot of people. And we did it ding-dong-ditch style (mostly because we aren't good enough at singing to try caroling). But several dozen cinnamon rolls got made, and many got to eat them so that was wonderful!


In Norway, Christmas is celebrated mainly on Christmas Eve. So all of the festivities take place on Christmas Eve. And one cool thing is that it's a big event. When everyone gets together, it's not a pajama event. Practically everyone is in their best clothes. (suits for men, dresses for women). It's just really cool to see how formal it is, because people acknowledge it as such a big day!
Elder Hoopes and I


Here's a list of typical Norwegian Christmas foods (list is variable depending on where you live)


-Ribbe: Pretty much ribs (not barbecued) with extra fat on top and loads of meat. AMAZING STUFF!


-Pinnekjøtt: Dried and salted lamb ribs. It's like steam cooked on top of sticks. It's incredible and basically just falls apart because it's so tender.


-Turkey: Classic turkey cooked up. Like a Thanksgiving turkey, just on Chrsitmas Eve.


-Christmas Ham: Pretty self-explanatory. Tender ham, for Christmas. It's always great.


-Lutefisk (or other fish): Fish jello? well not really, but that's pretty much the closest explanation. Topped off with bacon. Apparently it isn't too bad. I've never eaten it so I couldn't tell you how it is.


I hope you all have an awesome week! Take care!


Merry Christmas!


Sincerely,

Elder Mickelson


The first verse of "Joy to the World"


"Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing"

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS THIS WEEK!

Me and one of the youth here in Drammen. Way cool guy!
December 19, 2016

Dear Family & Friends,

Wow! Hectic week, but a great one at that!

After an amazing 6 months in the Arctic circle, I moved back down to Oslofjorden. It was really sad saying bye to everyone up there in Bodø. They are just so incredible up there. They were and still are such great examples of the kind of person I want to be.

After having a great stay in Bodø, I said bye to Elder Dawes. I went through airport security and started the next chapter of my mission here in Norway.

A quick thank you to all of those that I got to get to know in Bodø!

Luckily, all of my luggage made it to Oslo (I'd be really concerned if it didn't). I caught the Flytog (the airport's train system) and started my way through the oh-so-familiar winding hills, through Oslo, through good ol' Sandvika, and continued down to Drammen.

I got off the train, and made my way off the platform and found all of the Drammen Elders. My companion is Elder Hoopes. We came to Norway at the same time (we actually sat right next to each other in class in the MTC in Provo, UT also). So it was exciting seeing him again. He's from California, and loves the beach (a HUGE beach guy). Elder Jefferies is also in our apartment. I served with him at the beginning of my mission up in Alta. He was my second companion. Elder Jefferies is also training a new missionary, Elder Johnson. We have an awesome apartment, and a bunch of great guys. So long story short, it'll be a great time in Drammen!

Drammen is GIANT! Ok, not really. But kind of. There's a lot more people in Drammen than Bodø. Drammen actually is one of the largest cities in Norway. It has one of the biggest congregations too in all of Norway. I showed up to church yesterday and was practically overwhelmed. There had to be over 200 members there! I've been pretty used to about a dozen in church, so it was quite the change. But it's a good one. If there's anything I've learned, it's that all of the members here in Norway are incredible. They are the greatest examples of what I'd like to be one day. There's no doubt about that!

It's interesting moving back down here to Eastern Norway. This is where part of my family actually comes from (like 150 years ago, but still). We drove through this area called Eiker, right outside of Drammen, and it dawned on me I was practically in the same spot that some of my ancestors were from. It was just a real neat experience being where my family used to be.

And last but not least, CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! Ok, so now it's been about a year since I talked much about Christmas traditions in Norway.

Well, to sum it up, it's INCREDIBLE!!!

But I can elaborate a bit. Any time that you have 4 days of Christmas, it HAS to be great. so they have Little Christmas Eve (Lillejulaften) on the 23rd, Christmas Eve (Julaften), which actually is the biggest of the days of Christmas (it's when Santa comes). That's on the 24th. Then you have the Førstejuledag on the 25, the first day of Christmas. and then the second day of Christmas (Andre juledag) on the 26th. It's just a great time to just spend at home with family or at your cabin.

Food at Christmas time is wonderful! There's ribbe, pinnekjøtt, potatoes, kjøttkaker, and tons of baked goods. It's like the greatest assortment of food you can think of!

Well I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Take care and have a wonderful holiday season coming up!

Sincerely,

Elder Mickelson


Luke 2:11 "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Merry Christmas! God Jul!


Monday, December 12, 2016

I Am Getting Transferred To Drammen

Panoramic pic from the fort (pic by Elder Dawes)
December 12, 2016

Hello from almost the North Pole!

Moves call was yesterday! Unfortunately, I have to move from Bodø!!! NOOOOOOO!!! I love this city way too much! It's this cozy little city and I've come to love it so much. I'm pretty sure a part of my heart will be left up here in the north, in Bodø. But such is life, change. But change can be a good thing. It helps us grow.
Pepperkakebyen bus
It has a gingerbread city inside the bus

Anyways, I'm going to Drammen!!! I've visited Drammen before about six or seven months ago, but now I'll be moving there. I'll be with Elder Hoopes. He came out in my group. We actually sat right next to each other the whole six weeks in the MTC learning Norwegian. So this will be way exciting! Looking forward to it! Now all that's left is packing.... That'll be fun. 6 months in a place and you get pretty settled into an apartment, now it's got to work it's way into a few suitcases! haha

We also watched the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional. It was a great meeting. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's full of Christmas songs, and a few speakers talking about Christmas and how we can remember Christ during this wonderful time of year.
Mission Conference Group 2
Narvik District
We went back down to Oslo this last week again. This time for Zone Conference. It was soooo awesome! We flew down on Wednesday evening and stayed with the Oslo missionaries (one of which was Elder Mitchell, we served together in Fredrikstad this time last year). It was a blast. After a killer breakfast the next morning, we hopped on a train over to Sandvika (my last area) and went to the church building there for conference.

It was pretty cool being back in the same building I had been in just six months before. Not going to lie, pretty nostalgic. It was nice seeing it all again.
Me and Elder Mitchell

There was a couple different presentations put together there at the conference. One was a series of video clips our parents had sent them of us opening our mission calls. That was way cool to see that. It nearly made me cry! (no tears came, I promise! haha) The other one was one that was pretty much, "Guess that missionary" with a series of pictures our parents sent of us as we had grown up. Both were so much fun and quite memorable.

Elder Dawes and Elder Mickelson
After the conference we had a little talent show. Elder Dawes and I sang a song called "Tracting in a Winter Wonderland" HILARIOUS!

I HAVE NOW EATEN SEAL. I think bolding and underlining will really get some attention. Ya, I totally had seal last night and some whale. It was delicious!!! If I were to describe what it tastes like, hmmm... It tastes like whale, except a little bit more tender. It was amazing. I could eat that a lot and not get sick of it. Great stuff!

Today we walked out to an old fort that was made in the early 1800s to protect the harbor. It was a way cool little fort and we got some great pictures!

Well I hope you all have a wonderful week! Take care!

Sincerely,
Elder Mickelson

Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ... and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."


Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season!!!

Additional Pics:

Me and Elder Mitchell (picture taken by Elder Dawes)



Elder Tangen and I



Me and Elder Merritt



Elder Mickelson playing some carols for the conference



Senior missionaries getting ready to serve the food



Lunch Time at Zone Conference



Me at the canon


Fort

Fort


Canon's going to get the incoming boat


Middle of the city with a tipi, and the Christmas tree




Monday, December 5, 2016

This Has Been Such A Fun Week!

Packed on the couch in the mission home. Elder Daly, Elder Stephens, Elder Larson, me

December 5, 2016

Hey Everyone!

This has been such a fun week! We flew down to Oslo for a new missionary training. That was a couple days long, but a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of missionaries I know and I got to meet a couple new ones (basically just the ones that came with Elder Dawes and the set after him). I do have to say though, the missionary work will continue being in good hands being passed down to these new missionaries.

The sunrise at the mission home. 
We actually got to see the 
sun a little bit afterwards 
for a little bit, 
then it disappeared again...
forever...

One evening we got to watch The Best Two Years. For those that haven't seen it, it's a stereotyped movie of what a mission in Europe is like. Hilarious movie, and the longer I'm out here, the more I can relate to it.

We had a WAFFLESTAND this week. (sadly, I failed to take a picture of it and I realized that afterwards) Anyways, we had a stand in the middle of the city in this city square, but covered area. It's kind of a mall, but kind of not. Either way, we set up a stand and started handing out free waffles to people, and sharing on a TV the #lighttheworld project, a 25 days of service project of simple ways we can help others.

I was sent a list of 12 Norwegian foods to have before you die and was asked if I've had them yet. So, I'll share the list, tell you if I've had it or not, and elaborate on what they are/taste like. Here we go!

1. Brown cheese - Yes, it's delicious. It just takes some getting used to. It's a really soft cheese, and it is kind of tastes caramel. Kind of. Still delicious either way.
2. Tube caviar - Yes. I've had it like twice. It's ok. I guess if you like fish eggs then you should try it. Just imagine a metal tube of caviar, and squeezing that all over your sandwich or toast. It's not bad, just really different.

3. Pickled herring - YES! Really good. It'd be hard to eat a ton at once because that stuff is potent! But either way, still good.

4. Cloudberries - Yup! I think I've picked these on a hike before and I've had them in jam form. They're a bit pricey because they are less common than your average raspberries growing on the side of the road. Sorry, I have no luck at trying to explain it's taste.

5. Norwegian waffles - Yup! typically, they are made into heart-shaped waffles. They are really soft, and you would put sour cream on it, and some brown cheese, and maybe some jam on it to top it off!

6. Lutefisk - Sadly, no. I really want to try it. I guess it just tastes like fish jell-o. But it's common to put a bunch of bacon with it and it just tastes like bacon. If I'm lucky I'll try it sometime soon!

7. Potato lefse - YES!!!! IT'S SO AMAZING!!! I just finished eating some of it! It's pretty much just a tortilla made out of potato, and then it has a cinnamon butter spread on the inside and then folded up. Incredible. Love it!

8. Salmon - Yes. Norwegian salmon, what else can I say? Tastes really good. If you like salmon, it's great. If you don't, you probably wouldn't like it. Salmon used to be pretty cheap but it's more expensive now.

9. Hot dogs - Yup. Still just as good. Except here, instead of buns, you put it on potetlomper which is like a flat potato cake (kinda like a tortilla, except smaller) and then you put the hot dog on it and potato salad and crispy fried onion and top it off with some mustard. So much better than the standard American hot dog in my opinion.

10. Fiskeboller - Yes. Fish balls. They aren't too bad. Just imagine a meat ball. Now make it fish. And then put it in a brine. It's not too bad. I've only had it once or twice.

11. Reindeer meat - WONDERFUL!!! It's soooo good!!!! I think it's amazing. And then I'll add whale on the list too. Just as good. But yeah, reindeer is like elk. It's really great.

12. Matpakke - I guess I have. It's basically just a sack lunch. So, really just a sandwich and a vegetable or fruit or something. But sandwiches here are wonderful. Open face sandwiches. One piece of bread for a sandwich. Not two. More meat, less bread. How can that not be awesome?!

So there's the end of the list. Maybe it has inspired you to look around and find some randomly Norwegian food to try. If you find some, eat it because it's good! (in my opinion at least).

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Take care and make sure to take some time to think of those around you to help. The Christmas season is a time to focus less on ourselves and more on others. Find someone in need!

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17

Sincerely,


Elder Mickelson
Me in front of the King's Palace in Oslo 
(yes, I know I don't look amused. 
That wasn't how I actually was, just a bad picture haha)

Elder Dawes in front of the King's Palace in Oslo



Monday, November 28, 2016

We Eat Whale For Thanksgiving, Right?


Whale, homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, veggies, and some julebrus (Christmas soda)

November 28, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,


Us with our Thanksgiving

This week was packed full of delicious food and great company. On Thursday, Thanksgiving, Elder Dawes and I made up a pretty simple, but great dinner! It was a bit of a flashback to last year's Thanksgiving. Whale, mashed potatoes, and some good vegetables.

Me with my food

Hmmm... how can I explain what whale tastes like? Hmmm... Well whale doesn't really taste like beef, or chicken. I've heard it tastes like seal. But I don't know. I haven't tried seal yet. I guess I would say whale tastes like a mix of fish and beef. Yes, more like fishy beef.

The next day, Friday, we had a Branch Thanksgiving dinner. A nice potluck with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, etc. It was great. Maybe one day I can cook as good of food as the food that I've eaten while in here.

The Narvik missionaries came down to Bodø for splits this week too. Elders Arnold and Mckell came and visited. It was great having them over.
Elder Dawes and I with our winter coats and shorts

It's been raining/snowing/hailing/freezing the slush since Thanksgiving. So the street has gotten REALLY slick. We were walking down the sidewalk and we hit a pretty smooth spot, and I look to my side, and before I know it, Elder Dawes' feet slipped out from underneath him and he hit the ground. Well, to say the least, the first fall of the year! I guess we'll see who falls next!


The city's tree

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent. Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas season here. In Norway, they have a pretty fun tradition each Sunday of Advent. They light a candle each Sunday of Advent and sing a short song each time.

By the way, you should all check out mormon.org and look at the Light the World project. It's a series of little ideas we can do each day to help someone else. Christmas time is a great time for us to think of ways we can help those around us.

Well I hope you all have a wonderful week! Take care everyone!

Have a great week!

Sincerely,


Elder Mickelson


A "tree" of Christmas lights.


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Weather Cleared Up

Bodø Sunset

November 21, 2016

Hi Everyone!

After having not seen the sun for a week *cough cough* thanks clouds, the weather cleared up and I saw the sun rising/setting at the same time. I do have to say, it's been really nice here because we still don't have snow, it hasn't been too bitter cold, and the sun still rises every day. So I'm grateful for that.

Speaking of gratitude, this week is Thanksgiving! It's not really a Norwegian holiday, although there are a few people who do celebrate it. We are celebrating it still! I hope we all take a little time to think about how much we have and take that time to appreciate it. It's easy to take some things in life for granted, but it's the little things in life (in addition to the big) that make life so wonderful!

We were walking around this week, talking to different people, and we started talking with a man from Oslo. I recognized his dialect really easily and asked where he was from down there. Well, after the conversation, I turned to Elder Dawes and asked him how much he understood of the conversation. He said that the guy's dialect was really hard to follow. Laughingly, I told him that what he was saying was closest to the Norwegian he learned in the MTC. We both had a pretty good laugh about it.

Now, I hope the No-Christmas-Music-Before-Thanksgiving Mob doesn't get together against me anytime soon. This week a few of us from the church got together and sang a bunch of Norwegian Christmas songs. It was so much fun getting to sing some new ones, and sing some classics that I remember from last year. By the way, if you all want a cool Norwegian Christmas song to listen to, Nordnorsk Julesalme. It's a beautiful northern Norwegian Christmas song!

A few days ago, the Norwegian Navy docked in Bodø and was out and about. Now, I have to say this. It was SOOO fun having them around! They had a tug of war competition with just a bunch of guys from the Navy against different random people from Bodø. It was so fun to watch Navy vs. Bodø. I guess the Navy has a tradition of holding tug of war competitions with the different cities they stop at. Such a great thing in my opinion.

Funny story to end this week's email. This is another flashback to a couple months ago. Back when Elder Dawes had first gotten here, and was hit pretty hard with jet lag, it made him a bit tired. Tired enough that once he was saying a prayer... and the poor guy was so tuckered out, he fell asleep... midsentence haha. It was really hilarious to see. Luckily, the jet lag didn't last very long, but it was funny while it happened.

I hope you all have a great week!

Sincerely,

Elder Mickelson

"Think to thank" -Thomas S. Monson


Happy Thanksgiving this week!