Monday, June 5, 2017

This Is My Last Group Email Here In Norway

Getting burgers as a district
June 5, 2017

Hello Everyone!

Wow. This is my last group email here in Norway... This seriously has been the best 2 years for my life. It's been an incredible experience. Wow, I can go into that a little bit later. First off, my week.

Volleyball on pday!

I had an incredible week! Wow. What an ending. We had a great p-day last week. We played some volleyball as a district. That was tons of fun! We just relaxed and had a good day!

We had a mission conference too this week! That was really great. It was a blast! Elder Herland, an Area 70 came and visited all of the missionaries. So it was great. He shared a lot of wonderful experiences from his life and his mission. It was real funny to listen to him.

I even made up some homemade barbecue sauce too this week. That was delicious. When I first tasted it, I didn't like it, and it tasted funny. It was then that I realized it was because I had just brushed my teeth. Yuuuuuum! Minty barbecue!..... haha It turned out good after all.
Elder Decker nearly getting 
attacked by the swan


Yesterday we were out visiting a family in a town way out there. Anyways, after we left, we were waiting for the other Elders to pick us up after their appointment. Out of nowhere, it started raining, and it was some of the biggest raindrops I've seen! It was crazy. Got soaking wet, and all of a sudden we get a phone call, and the family we just visited were calling wondering if we were still out in the rain or had gotten picked up, so they had us come back to dry off real quick. Anyways, just a fun little story about being a missionary. The little blessings in life when others are looking out for you. Always appreciative of that.

I guess this is down to my closing remarks now. Maybe a mission recap. I don't really know what I want to go with. Yup, we'll go with a recap.

I started out my mission up in Alta. Got to be the furthest north missionary in the world for a bit. Saw the northern lights a lot. Saw a lot of cool sights. No polar bears though, didn't see any of those haha. Met some great people and made wonderful friends. I learned how important it was to be yourself.

Moved on down to Fredrikstad. I remember walking into church and one member welcomed me and said that he hoped I would feel at home there. And that's what it was. I was only there for a few months, but I got to know everyone, and it felt like home. I learned what it meant to love others. To really care about others and how to do that. What a loving place. Plus I got to be with Elder Mitchell and we had a blast. So can't complain any. Real good memories.

Moved on over to Sandvika. What a fun city. I had some great companions, was in a great ward, made some great friends, and had a great time.

A year ago I moved to Bodø. Got back up into the North. Picked up the northern dialect again (I've lost it since then). Went to Lofoten. Got to train a new missionary (Shoutout to Elder Dawes woohoo!). I experienced both the midnight sun and no sun 24/7 while I was there. I really got to know the members up there. Well, that's a bit easier when there's like 10 of you. But that's what made that so cool. It was really tight-knit. I learned there how to truly live what you believe. They were such incredible examples of that.

Then I moved down to Drammen. And I've been here for the last 6 months. What a wonderful place. It's so great here. Wonderful members. Way fun city. Great people. It's a little bit more redneck, and I like that. It feels more like home here. I like it a lot. I've made incredible lifelong friends here. And they're awesome. I'm so grateful for them.

This has been an incredible couple years. I've seen most of the major cities of Norway, seen the sights, eaten crazy awesome food (fell in love with Filipino food. holy cow!), made amazing friends, had wonderful experiences, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. And I'm so grateful I got to share the gospel here in Norway. I'm grateful I could come here to help people come closer to Christ. And I feel like everything I've experienced has just helped me in every way. But I think the greatest thing though at the end of the day, is that when I set aside the cool stuff, I've personally grown a lot. I'm a lot better of a person now than I was a couple years ago. I've come to understand who Christ is and what he means for me personally. My testimony in the gospel has been greatly strengthened over my time here. I'm so thankful for that.

It's been real. It's been fun. It's been real fun. Thank you all for everything! Have a great week everyone!

Ending it off with an irish poem.

"May those who love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping."

Bye!

Sincerely,


Elder Justin Mickelson

Monday, May 29, 2017

This May Be Message Number 100

All of us together
May 29, 2017

Hey Everyone!

So, rumor has it that this is email number 100. I don't know how true it is, but it seems legit. It's been fun for me to see how my emails have evolved over the last couple years. It started as practically a few sentences. After finding out that people would want to read more than a couple lines, I had to step it up a notch. But that's aside from the point. That is a TON of emails.

Coming back down on
a mountain bike trail
I've been asked a lot lately, "Are you excited to be going home soon?" (by the way, I'm coming home next week). And I guess I'll answer that. I'm excited to see everyone, but I'm really going to miss it a lot here. I have so many new friends I've made over here, and it'll be hard to leave. Thankfully Facebook exists! Luckily, it's easier to hold contact with people nowadays than it used to be. So yes, I am excited to be home, but I think part of me will be left here. And I'll take a bit of Norway home with me.

So this week has been definitely a great one. We started out with another hike. It was soooo much fun! We went out with one of the young men, and it was a blast.

We also went and got kebab too that evening with another one of the young men. Tons of fun. That's for sure. The youth in this ward are so great. I've really appreciated the church here in Norway, they're just all studs!

I had my interview with our mission president too this week. So Elder Mitchell, Sanchez, and I took a train (see right there? I took yet another train haha) over to the mission president's home. So we spent the early afternoon over there with interviews and lunch. So it was really good.

This week was a great one, but definitely hot! It was up in the 80s this week. Really nice to be out in, but I got a bit of a sunburn. Oh well, it wasn't too bad!

Well I hope you all have a great week! Take care! And I'll see some of you next week!

Sincerely,

Elder Justin Mickelson


“Even in the most difficult and darkest of times, there is light and goodness all around us.” -Mark A. Bragg

Extreme ramp/turn thing (wall of death maybe?)
River along the hike
Snake that we nearly stepped on.

Monday, May 22, 2017

17th Of May Norway Independence Day

Elder Decker, Elder Mitchell, Elder Nelson, Me
May 22, 2017


Hello Everyone!


I hope you all had a great week. I sure had an incredible one.


The 17th of May is the biggest celebration in Norway. It's their Independence Day. Last year, I was in Oslo to celebrate it, and this year I was in Drammen. Last year was crazy because it was like a million plus people all crowding the streets of Oslo, and the parade went past the King's Palace and everything. So that was a ton of fun. This year was more relaxing. We saw the parade here in Drammen, so that was really fun. It's so cool to see everyone's national pride.


Arizona Drink
After watching the parade, I found an Arizona juice. I drank a lot of in the States, but haven't seen in Norway. Don't worry, it wasn't the tea one. It was such a throw-back though to days on the golf greens. Good times haha. So it was fun to see that someone had found some in probably Sweden and it's now here in Norway. That was cool.


Dessert on 17th of May
I left, Arizona juice in hand, and we went to a little tiny town further up the valley to spend the afternoon with a family up there. We saw the 5 minute long parade (I'm not exaggerating, it really only was 5 minutes long haha) and had some ice cream. Then we had a nice barbecue, had a nice afternoon, and played a round of frisbee golf. I've never played frisbee golf, and I'm not incredible at throwing a frisbee either, but we sure had a lot of fun! It was such a relaxing day, and got to spend it with some incredible people!


Last P-day, we hiked up to a lake behind our house and had a little barbecue with the four of us elders. We took up a little grill and some hot dogs and had that. It was a nice little evening activity. They had a rope course too there!!!! It was way fun. It wasn't very big, but enough to entertain all of us for a couple minutes. So we enjoyed that and stood inside a tipi that's set up there. Pretty cool place.
Grafitti on a wall
The ward here in Drammen had a self-reliance day this week. We went along to that. It was cool to learn different things. Everything from, budgeting, to food storage, to cooking out on an open fire, to eating random (edible) plants, to practical outdoor skills was covered in it. It was a way fun activity they had. Then we had a little barbecue. Brought some hot dogs and cooked them up. The more I write this letter this week though, the more I realize that we have a TON of barbecues here! haha. It's good, I love it!


To top off the week, we were invited over to a family's home for dinner this week, and they made homemade Cafe Rio... Wow... Boy was I impressed. It was DELICIOUS! That was the food story of the week. It was on point. Loved the food. Don't need much, just good food.


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


Sincerely,

Elder Justin Mickelson


DSCF3360.JPG
17th of May parade

Dead frog



Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Elder Mickelson Sykping on Mother's Day
May 14, 2017


Hey Everyone!


Happy Mother's Day yesterday! Ya!!!! Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there (including my mom!)


It was a pretty great week this week. A bunch of random different things happened so that makes this email just as entertaining for the rest of you!


Topics of discussion for today's email:
A hike (beautiful pictures included)
Elder Mitchell - the grillmaster
An attempt at making our own pinnekjøtt (yes, another picture)
A nerf war (no pictures, sorry)
And to top it all off, last but not least, Mother's Day! (again, no pics, sorry)


Ravine
We went on an incredible hike this week! IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE! Basically, we hiked up a ravine all the way up to a dam. And it was really cool. It looked awesome. It was us missionaries and some of the members in the ward that had gone up there. It was a blast. And then, we had a barbecue up at the top on some one-time use grills. They work great if you're making hot dogs, but not great at defrosting and cooking some hamburgers. It didn't go over so well. We tried thawing out hamburgers over a couple coals.... at the expense of Elder Mitchell's Subway bonus card so we could have a spatula and separate the burgers from each other. It worked out in the end, and we didn't eat them raw, but it made for quite the adventure. Then we walked down a different way down a ski slope and that was a lot of fun. All of the snow was melted off so it looked more like an epic mountain biking path.

Pinnekjøtt and mashed potatoes



We made pinnekjøtt this week. That was something else. It starts out as dried lamb, and then you soak the meat, and then steam it for a few hours. Wow. It was delicious!!! A little dry, but still really good. Although, our whole apartment smelled like that for a few days. I think the smell is gone now? I can't really tell. Oh well. It tasted great so I can't complain.


We had a nerf gun war outside with one of the youth this week. It was really fun. He had several nerf guns, so we went out, split up into teams and had a blast for a little bit. He had a whole bucket of nerf darts and that made it SO much more fun to play because you didn't have to pick up all of the darts after three shots. We had a great
time. We all enjoyed it, and then we had some dessert to top it off. That was a good time!


And to end off my email, we had Mother's Day. So I skyped home yesterday! It was great to see my family and talk with them. It took us forever to get it to work, but after a long enough time, we eventually got it all worked out. So it worked out in the end.


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


Sincerely,


Elder Justin Mickelson

"The highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother." -Russel M. Nelson

More of the hike
The Dam
Trying to thaw out the burgers.
A snowmaker
Coming down the ski slope.
Waking up with snow.
Snow melted making a picturesque scene along a path down to a bus stop.

Monday, May 8, 2017

I Had A Awesome Week!

Elder Mickelson Enjoying The View
May 8, 2017

Hello Everyone!!!

I had an awesome week, and I hope all of you did too. This week felt a little all over the place but it was a really solid week. Everything from meeting with several people, to a selfie day, to a couple barbecues made the week fly by.

Elder Mickelson & Elder Nelson
We went on a hike up in the mountains this week. In Norway, it entails basically parking in a neighborhood and start walking along the trail behind everyone's houses. Before you know it, there's nothing in sight except for trees. (I spy, something green... A tree (If you name the movie I'll be impressed)) It was a blast. We didn't decide where we wanted to go, so all of us just started hiking along random trails and eventually went to a lake up on the top somewhere. It was so beautiful! Way fun, really enjoyed it. Next time we'll need to go up with a grill and some burgers or something. I did get some great pictures from our hike too. So, ya. Perks of Norway, awesome pictures!

We had a "Selfie Day" also this week. At first I was really skeptical at the sound of it. Selfie day? What am I supposed to even do? Go take pictures with random people?! Come to find out, it wasn't necessarily like that. It was a chance for the missionaries/church to get out there a bit on social media. It was way fun. A random person on the street wanted to take a picture with us, so we told her to put it on like Instagram and we did the same with some other members too. It was way fun, and a chance for people to see the missionaries out and about! So maybe next time they see us on the street, they'll stop us because they saw us on Instagram or Facebook once!

A Nice View
Dugnad. Dugnad is a Norwegian word that sums up a Norwegian service project. It'd be defined basically as a community/group volunteer project (often cleaning up something) and seems to often involve someone in charge of waffles. Way fun get togethers for a common goal. ANYWAYS, we had a dugnad in the church this week. So a bunch of church members got together and deep cleaned the church. Waffles were included, and yes they were delicious. I helped in a dugnad at the church in Sandvika last year, and I think they're awesome! A great way for everyone to help out!

We got to do some service this week for a person who lives in this gorgeous area outside of Drammen! Holy cow! Imagine farming community by the water. It was great. We helped out with some yard work and it was great!

To top off this week, we had a couple of barbecues. Wow. I've sure missed them. That's one of the great parts of Norway in the spring/summer. Grilling. Everyone just loves grilling. So I've had some great burgers and pork steaks. Yup :) Summer is on it's way, and the grills are coming out!

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for being awesome!

Sincerely,

Elder Mickelson

Monday, May 1, 2017

Today Is Labor Day in Norway

May 1, 2017

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a great week, because I sure did!

Today is Labor Day in Norway, so it's a lot of fun. Well, everything is closed and stuff, but we are going to go on an epic hike so I'm stoked for that! Can't complain about a good hike. So we'll be headed off to that here soon.

This week started out pretty great with having Family Home Evening with a wonderful family in the ward. Well, a couple young families got together for it and we had it all together. It was a blast. It's fun trying to teach little kids.Such a joy to do! I can only imagine what it was like for my parents trying to have it with us when we were little. An adventure most likely!

We had a YSA reach out night too this week. We went out with some of the young adults to visit some other young adults in the ward to invite them to different activities. Real fun to see people than I already know and catch back up with them.

I've never quite figured out why I even try playing soccer. I'm not that great at it (I'm not terrible, but I'd be mediocre compared to the 10 year olds here). We played soccer with a bunch of us from the ward. I ended up as goalie for the second half. I didn't stop them
all... but, we didn't lose. So, who knows. It was a blast either way and I really enjoyed it.

We also finished painting the house that we painted a couple weeks ago. We went by a few days ago and busted it out. It looks pretty good. Nice and white. And I got all of the paint out of my jeans too. A good soak and a nice scrub fixed that!

Had an awesome time in church yesterday too. I ended up doing the live translation during sacrament meeting. 1) I haven't translated like that in SEVERAL months. Nor have a just translated for an hour straight in quite a while either. 2) I can't translate scriptures very well on the fly from norwegian to english. 3) Translating from swedish
to english is a lot more difficult than norwegian to english. Oh well, it turned out good enough. The family from America got a kick out of the commentary they got when a story got way too in depth for me to explain.

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

Sincerely,

Elder Justin Mickelson

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Week Was A Really Good One

Elders Decker, me, Nelson and Mitchell
April 24, 2017

Hello Everyone!

This week was really good one. I had found out last week that I'd be staying in Drammen for this last transfer. So I'm REALLY excited to be here for that! It's sure been enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to enjoying these next weeks here in such an incredible city!

From the top of the ski jump


Last Monday we went out to the Vikersund Ski Jump, and it was so cool!!! There were a couple families we went with, and it was just so awesome! So Vikersund is where the world record has been held for the last few years for the longest ski jump, and it just got broken there again in March. It's at 253.5 meters. ITS SO FAR!!!!! It was insane to climb up. I can't imagine trying to jump off of that myself. It'd be so intense. It was a lot of stairs to walk up too. 1,078 steps. Uphill. Luckily my legs didn't burn too bad because of it! It was a lot of fun and then we went and had lunch all together. Real enjoyable!



Me at the bottom of the ski jump
Elder Nelson and I
Elder Nelson and I at a giant fire pit thing
So our entire district stayed the same this transfer. Weird because normally someone moves. But we all stayed so it was a bit of a shock, but at the same time really exciting because there's an extra sister missionary here too. So now we have a bonus missionary!!! Woohoo!!!

We met with some new people this week. It was real great to meet them and hopefully we'll get to keep meeting with them in the coming weeks!

A view from the place where we rolled the giant rocks

We rolled giant boulders this week. Ok, by boulders, it takes like four or five guys to roll it across a yard. So take that as you will. But we went out and helped a member roll some giant stones he had behind his house across his lawn and over towards his deck for decoration. With a lot of yelling, sweat, and no blood, we managed to roll several over. And it sure looks good now! Plus I got a great picture from his house of the valley.

We had an INCREDIBLE stake conference this weekend. Elder Bennasar, an area seventy. He's from France, and is just awesome. One, getting to listen to the stake presidency here was awesome to begin with, but then you throw in another that is just as great. Wow. I don't really know what to say about it. Everyone just had wonderful talks about how to help us spiritually in life. And it just was centered around doing the basic things to build our testimonies. I just loved it. It was all really well put.

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for being awesome!

Sincerely,

Elder Mickelson

Woke up this morning and there was 4 inches of snow on the ground…


Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

Telemark Zone (Our Largest Zone)

April 17, 2017


Happy Easter everyone!!!


I hope you all had a great vacation and weekend and stuff! Something that is pretty cool here is that in Norway, people celebrate Easter week. So everything from Palm Sunday, to Good Friday and Easter. Even today, being Monday, is the second day of Easter. So, it's different celebrating more than just one day for Easter. I think it's pretty great!


It was quite an eventful week! That's for sure! We helped a member in the ward paint his house, and it's looking pretty good if I do say so myself haha! It was real fun though. I got a bunch of paint on my jeans so we'll see how well it goes trying to get it off. It'll be an adventure nonetheless.


A ton of people from the ward got together to play soccer over Easter break and we went and played with them. There was a couple dozen there. Proper sized teams. Us Americans suck at playing soccer. Luckily, because of my time in Sandvika and here in Drammen, I've gotten better. I'm not completely hopeless. Just somewhat of a lost cause. But no, we did alright haha! (Still lost though, but just barely).
Speaking of soccer, one afternoon we spent the evening with a family, and after dinner us and their kids all headed out to this little soccer field and played soccer. It was a blast, but we still lost to their kids. I'm not that great after all. Oh well.


No weekly email would quite be the same without the train update. Well, the trains are still running, and I'm still catching them. This week I went on splits to Tønsberg. And it was a lot of fun. I was with Elder Rogers again and it was a blast seeing him again. We got to go help an older couple with some yard work too. I can thank my mom for teaching me how to clean out flowerbeds! :) Thanks mom!
We spent Easter yesterday over at the mission home with the mission president and his wife, along with some other senior couples and a bunch of other missionaries. We had a nice dinner (the food was amazing) and we sang a ton of songs together. A really nice way to spend Easter afternoon!
Elder Mickelson is playing the piano
Well we are headed out soon to go climb Norway's biggest ski jump, so that'll be fun!


Hope you all have a great week! Happy 2nd day of Easter!


Sincerely,


Elder Justin Mickelson


"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for

his friends." John 15:13

Elder Decker with our super small shopping cart :)


Elder Mickelson and Elder Mitchell spent the morning 

teaching the missionaries how to keep their “line in the water.”


There are wonderful large windows around the top of the Drammen Chapel. They let in lots of light 🙂 We were happy to have a visitor Eivind Top join us for the day!