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.

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