Monday, June 27, 2016

No, It Wasn't My Birthday, But It Might As Well Have Been!

Elder Rial and Elder Mickelson in front of the bon fire.
June 27, 2016

Hello Everyone!

No, it wasn't my birthday, but it might as well have been! On Friday, I reached my year mark of being gone from home, being halfway across the world, and being a missionary. It's quite a weird feeling. I know I already talked a lot about that last week, so I won't bore you all with a monologue of how it feels having been gone a year. I'll sum it all up by saying it's 1. weird 2. going by waaaay to fast and 3. extremely surreal. Hey! I managed to sum that all up pretty easily, huh, who would've thought that could be so easy.

Speaking of easy, I want to explain a little bit of why I love Norwegian culture so much. They are soooooo relaxed. As a whole, everybody is just very easy-going, especially in the Summer. Norwegians are great at appreciating that which they have, and enjoying the little things in life. Gratitude for simple things like nice weather, the shining sun, or just basic nature, is engraved in these wonderful people. It makes me think about ourselves and how we need to appreciate the little things in life, find more things to be grateful for, and just relax. There's no need to get worked up about little things.

The bonfire at different points of burning, and yes, 

it does have a make-shift witch on top haha. 

Hey, witches get burned haha.

This last week was the midsummer solstice, St. Hans Celebration in Norway. But it was so cool. People from our church got together at one of the beaches here in the area, and we went to a local bonfire. So everyone grilled some food, had a bonfire, and just had a great time. It's very typical in Norway to get together as communities for a celebration and have giant bonfires, grill a ton of food and go swimming (no, we didn't go swimming), go around in boats and whatnot. Just a huge celebration each year. This all goes back to Norwegians being really great about relaxing, taking it easy, and enjoying life.

On Wednesday, we also had a great mission conference. Elder Kearon from the Area Seventy came and visited us in Oslo. First off, he's British, so that's a plus. He's also hilarious, very witty, and mastered the English language (go figure, it makes it easier when you come from the origin of English. That's definitely something I wish I could do). His teaching style is incredible. It was just spot on with teaching by the Spirit and just letting the conference conversation go where it may. It was really cool to experience. But on top of all of that, he's a great example of being grateful. I can't count how often he expressed his gratitude. Gratitude for the Lord, for missionaries, for the members of the church, gratitude for even the rain. I think a lot in life comes down to whether or not we want to be thankful for what we have.

During the conference, there were a couple points that really struck me. Much of the conference was centered around acquiring and maintaining a mighty change of heart. A lot of the conversation centered around how we become changed and how we truly become converted to the Lord. One thing that was said was that "mighty change requires mighty action". If we want to come closer to God, we can't expect to be doing the same old thing and have something change. It doesn't happen that way. We all know what is holding us back. It's a choice of what we are willing to do to become changed. We shouldn't have to worry about taking that next step in following Christ. We need to stop worrying, stop speculating, and quit doubting ourselves. We are all SOOOOO much more capable of being greater people than we can comprehend.

I came to an understanding several months ago (it was one of those lightbulb moments haha) and I realized that God has more expectations for us, than expectations of us. If we understood that, we would quit worrying about everything, we would realize how much our loving Heavenly Father ACTUALLY loves us, and we would just try our best to follow Him, not because we have to or because of some false expectation, but because that is something that we truly want for ourselves, because we would understand that God has more in store for us.

With understanding that, how could we not come to this mighty change of heart. We would better understand what God's hope is for us. That would help us want to change, to quite being mediocre and be as excellent as God intended for us to be. We can fulfill our eternal potential. I know that we our loved by our Heavenly Father. His love towards us is greater than some mere hope, some fantasy, or some outlandish idea. But rather, his love is real, and it is greater than we understand. The closest of an understanding I believe we can come to is the love that a parent has for their child. An infinite love. There is no need for us to feel as though we are forgotten. The Good Shepherd never forgets His sheep. We may wander away, but he is there waiting for us, and is willing to go out of His way to find us individually. God loves you. And I hope that you never forget that.

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


Elder Mickelson
Elder Mickelson, Elder Rial and Karinya Vega (Return Sister Missionary)
Also some delicious Swedish candy pastry thing.

Monday, June 20, 2016

One Year Mark This Thursday

Sights from the hike around a lake & Elder Potter and I by the waterfall

June 20, 2016

Hello Family & Friends!

In a very broad generalization of the entire human race, there are two types of people. The first type sees the glass as half empty, and the other sees it as half full. Regardless of how we look at the glass, it is still only contains half of the possible volume.

This coming Thursday will mark one year that I've been serving a mission. One year having passed by me in just the blink of an eye, with another year approaching. It's a very weird feeling. At times, I can see it all as if the glass is half empty, that half of my mission has felt as though it just slipped through my fingers, as if it passed without me noticing. Sure, the day to day can feel as though it will never end, but for some strange reason, the weeks and months fly by. Other moments, I feel as though the glass is half full, as if I've lived this previous year to it's fullest. But no matter how I choose to look at it, come Thursday, 365 days would have passed since I stepped foot into the Missionary Training Center.

I like to look at this last year as the year which I experienced the most growth. I feel like I am a greater person now than I was just one year ago. I don't think that I'm still a punk teenager, but that I've grown up in a way. I guess when you move halfway across the world, you manage to change, quite quickly I might add.

It leads me to reflect on how I've changed. Day to day, I feel like the same person. Week to week, it feels like an up or down in life, with the occasional life lesson thrown in. That life lesson can be anything from "Don't buy something when you don't know what it is. Then, you end up stinking up your apartment with the rancid fumes of seared pork liver." to something on the opposite end of the spectrum such as "God loves me. I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father and He wants the best for me". Week to week comes with it's own lessons, but on a month to month basis, I think I start to see change. But coming up on the year mark. Wow. Boy, how the time flies! Talk about being different.

A year of experiences can do a lot for a person. A year is full of 365 days, packed full of conversations, trials, and triumphs. That will mold a person. But it's not the experiences in life that change us. Experiences are just moments. They are just a realization of what happened. It is what we do with our experiences that change us, that forge us into who we want to become. If we take a closed door in life as the end, if we just give up then and there, and just walk home, we give up. We take each closed door as a chance to move on to the next opportunity. So what if you win a race, if when you're done, you quit working for the next. It was a triumph, but if you do nothing with the experiences you have, you don't improve. Our experiences don't shape us, just like our circumstances don't shape us. It's what we do with that which we have that will refine who we are.

There's a great analogy in the scriptures about how we go through the refiner's fire. All of us as some point or another, and I'm willing to say that this is a life-long process, not just a moment's experience, will go through the refiner's fire. Our loving Heavenly Father is the refiner. Our challenges and experiences, both good and bad, is that fire. If we allow our challenges to soften us, so that we can be refined, we can be forged into something greater. But we have to be willing to move forward and look forward to the future and continue striving to be better. We need to choose to make the best of our different "fires" that we run into and allow it to soften us so that we can be shaped into the people that our Heavenly Father knows that we can become.

In this last year, I've seen and experienced some incredible things. I've experienced everything from the Northern lights, it being light 24/7, mørketid with absolutely no sun for a month, to climbing peaks, seeing the most Northern point of Norway, visiting memorials, seeing a bit of Sweden, being in several of Norway's most major cities, experiencing some of the most rural places Norway can offer, helping build a bunch of stuff, knocking on people's doors when it's freezing outside and also hotter than I can imagine (not at the same time), talking to the most interesting people on the streets, having Christmas in Norway, and countless other things.

Yes, all of things were incredible, they make lifetime memories that I can never forget, but things like this don't change us, it's what we do with our experiences that do. I feel like at times I've taking my experiences in stride, and other times with resistance, but it's SOOOO much easier to embrace our experiences and move forward. Accept what has happened, realize that there are things in this life that we don't have control over, and move on. Take the next step. We don't go anywhere in life if we stand still. Our experiences are our opportunities to make something happen, to change ourselves, to be better.

Although, when I think about everything that I've experienced, the greatest things that happened in my life weren't experiences that affected me directly, but those where I got to see other people's lives change. This life isn't all about us. In a way, we all play a part, and we are all important, but it doesn't revolve around us. It is those people who are around us that matter. They are the ones that we need to reach out to and help. The moment we forget about ourselves and begin to think about others, that's when we make real change. That is when we become changed people. We don't change by thinking about ourselves, you only get frustrated by doing that. We change for the better when we think about others. We will see the greatest change in ourselves when we try doing things for other people.

I've seen many lives changed in the last year. Thankfully, mine has too in the process. But I've met people who came to Christ, found the truth, and went after it. I've loved every moment of seeing other people become changed over time, coming to an understanding of God's endless love for them, and seeing them become something greater, becoming that which God knew they had potential to be. Those have been the greatest moments I've experienced, it was seeing other people come closer to God.

I hope that we all move forward with the experiences that we have. That we take a step forward, quit worrying about the past, and do something about it. I hope that we all come to a deeper understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we all come to a greater understanding of our own potential, and work. Go and become what God wants us to become.

My testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been strengthened more than I can really express. I left with a foundation of belief, a foundation that I felt was ready to be built upon, and in this last year, something great has been built on it. The construction is never over, it is a lifelong process of building upon that which we have already learned and experienced.

It is my witness that we are all sons or daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. He is the Father of all of our spirits. All of us existed before we came to earth. That we are all remembered. God doesn't forget us, it is us who forget Him. But because He loves us, He sent us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who came into the world so that we would be able to be saved and return to our Heavenly Father. Through Jesus Christ, we can become perfected through Him. Because of Him, we can receive forgiveness, strength, and be able to move forward. We can change because of Christ. I know that he suffered and died for us, and that he arose as a resurrected being. We will all be resurrected after we die because of His sacrifice. Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father truly did visit Joseph Smith to begin the restoration of Christ's church, to not just become any other church, but to be the same that Christ established when He was on the earth. The scriptures are true. The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God, it was written as another testament of Jesus Christ. Throughout the entire book it testifies of Christ, and it will help us come closer to God by living its teaching than by living the teachings of any other book. God loves us. He hears and answers the prayers of those who believe in Him. We all have a purpose on Earth. We all have potential. I pray that we can all work together, and help each other so that we can be able to return to God again someday.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week! Happy Father's Day yesterday to all of the Fathers around the world!


Elder Mickelson
Old books at a member's home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We Had A Great Week In Sandvika

Elder Rial and Elder Mickelson
June 13, 2016

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a great week. We sure did here in Sandvika! Here's a bit of a recap of this week.

Most of us on the hike (Jan Atle, Sisters Neilson and Petersen,
Elder Rial and Elder Mickelson
Last Monday, after we had emailed, we went on a hike. Every time we go it just gets more and more beautiful, my guess is that it's like it because it keeps on becoming Summer more and more. I got some more great pictures from that (more pictures of myself than of just the scenery this time! haha). I guess that after hiking it a few times you just soak it all in and figure that it's more worth it to take pictures with everyone rather than just taking pictures of only the sights. It was fun regardless.
Hundremeterskogen (The hundred meter woods). It reminded me of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre woods.

Elder Rial and Elder Mickelson

We had splits last week, so I went down to a city called Drammen for a day. Drammen is a GORGEOUS city. Wow. I just wish all of you could see it so you could understand how great it is. I did take a couple pictures so you might be able to get a glimpse of it. It's a great place either way.

Picture of Drammen
While I was there we, Elder Gingrich (he's serving in Drammen right now) and I had done a few different things. We had gone around and talked with some really cool people. After that, we had visited a really cool family that lives there and helped them move a bunch of bricks. After a while, it did get tiring, but it was still a blast.

Elder Rial and I helped out our landlords this week. We spent some time planting some plants (I think helping my Mom do some gardening has payed off, I know I can plant a flower now! haha) and taking some brick and other odd and ends stuff out to the dump/recycling center. It was quite fun. Who else likes chucking bricks and stones at another pile or rock? Basically, it's great entertainment.

This picture is of the Assistants' washing machine.... 
I never knew that someone had ever 
created a washer/dryer combo machine, 
but they did. And it is incredible! 
And it totally works!

The Sister Missionaries and us drove up to Hønefoss this week to visit a great couple in the ward. It was a ton of fun getting to see such a beautiful drive and also having some amazing food while we were there. I guess that's what happens when you just love food, it makes anything related to it awesome!

In church yesterday, in one of the classes we had talked a bit about what true greatness is. Greatness isn't about the number of likes we get on social media, or how many followers we have, but great people are those that do the small things in life which make a great impact on those around them. It occurs when we stop thinking about ourselves, but rather turning out and trying to care for others. It happens when we think about the well-being and happiness of others rather than that of ourselves.

It had reminded me of the parable Christ gave about the 99 sheep and the one which was lost. In Luke 15 it says,

" 1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

Christ was selfless. Obviously, we as people aren't perfect, but we can definitely try to reach out to those around us. We should try to reach out and help the one, help those that have gotten lost. At times, we are that one that needs someone to pick us up and help us, but other times, we are the ones that need to be searching for the one. I love how in verse 6 Christ talks about how "he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." I believe it goes to show how important that one is to us. Christ remembers all of His sheep. None are ever forgotten, some are just lost. I hope that we all can strive to find the one, and help bring them back.

I hope you all have a great week! Take care!


Elder Mickelson

Monday, June 6, 2016

We Had A Really Great Week!

Elder Rial and Elder Mickelson
June 6, 2016

Hello everyone!

We had a really great week! It was a lot of fun talking to everyone that was out and about.  Although, this week has been HOT for Norway. It was up in the 80s this week. Talk about a shock by going from a Norwegian Winter into a hot, humid Summer! But the weather has evened out a bit and it's cooled off enough to go around comfortably enough.  As with any nice weather, it brings everyone outside. That's great for us because we start talking with a lot of happy people each day! As many people know, happy people are fun to talk to!

The set up for weekly planning
Last week we got to go to the mission home for breakfast. So we went over, had some breakfast, and got to study while we were having interviews. So that was a ton of fun. The cinnamon rolls were quite delicious haha!

This week I've been thinking a lot about what people need to understand for them to want to be changed people through Christ. Many people in life have everything they need. They have a home, food on the table, a car sitting in the driveway, a stable job, and a happy family. When everything in life seems to be going great, people have a tendency to feel like they no longer need God. Many feel as though that they can do everything on their own and that they got where they are by their own sheer will-power. Yes, it's true that with hard work we can get what we want in life. But at the end of the day, despite what we have, how successful we are, or what we've worked for, do we turn to God? Do we find ourselves praying, thanking our loving Heavenly Father for what we have? Or do we find ourselves "puffed up in pride"? Do we shun God, or embrace His love for us? What are we doing to come closer to Him?
Elder Rial casually walking down the street with an electric keyboard

I believe that when we understand who we truly are, THEN we will come closer to God, THEN we will have a desire to change, THEN we will want to turn to Christ and follow His example. We are all the spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father. A father who created us, who cared about every single one of us before we came to earth, and sent us to earth so we could receive a body, so that one day, we would be able to return to live in His presence. He loves us, regardless. Please remember that God wants the best for us, and the only way to experience true happiness, happiness that lasts into eternity, is by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I see it everyday. I see the blessings in people's lives because of living the gospel, and I see pain and discouragement when people don't. I have never met anyone who is happier now in their lives because they fell away from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never. Blessings come to those who follow Christ. I know that's true.

I hope all of you have a great week!


Elder Mickelson

Me with some skolebrød (school bread- bread with 
custard in the middle and frosting on top 

dipped in coconut. Yes, it's delicious)