Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Family and Friends;

Well November is just about over.  We are enjoying the cooler weather.  It has not yet frozen yet.  We are in the banana belt of Norway.  We have had a lot of snow in the mountains and in other parts of Norway, but not here.  We are soo.. glad the elections are over.  Maybe we can see something else on the news.  We pray that a divided country will become united.  We have been visiting inactive members for the ward.  Sister Gormley has never had a door slammed on her before.  She doesn't like it.   We have enjoyed meeting these people.  Everyone has a story.  I have learned that guilt can be disabling.  We all need the relief that comes from the atonement.  It is sad that so many will not accept this gift.   We had transfers on the 10th.  I think I made 8 trips to the airport shuffling missionaries.  We had Sister Etchels and Elders Kemp and Merritt leave.  We had Sister Cockrell, Elder Osguthorpe, Elder Davis, Elder Hailes and Elder Sadler, all from Utah come to our district.  It is hard to see them leave and fun to see them come.  We spent three days in Haugesund last week helping the Elders and the branch there.  Sister Gormley and I spoke in church there.  We visited 12 inactive investigators in one day.  3 asked us to come back.  Sister Gormley bore testimony of the Book of Mormon to a sweet inactive sister.  It really touched her.  We had a busy few days this week getting ready for our Thanksgiving dinner here in Stavanger. We fed 54 people.  We had about 25 older members of our ward that came.  The others were  Ward leadership, YSA and missionaries that helped serve and do set up and clean up.  We cooked 5 turkeys, made stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, carrots, homemade rolls and a bunch of pies.  We had several people play the piano and sing.  Sister Gormley and I sang Mary Did You Know.  We had a great time.  The older people were so grateful and kind.  We are doing well.  Some days we get a little tired, but all in all we are really enjoying serving here in Norway.  We sure missed being with our family this Thanksgiving, but are so grateful they are all doing well.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Norway.  All of the decorations are going up.  Hope you all have a blessed December as we all look forward to celebrating the birth of the Savior.

Love, Elder and Sister Gormley

Alex, Christopher and Emily

Linda (an investigator), Sister Etchels and Sister Gormley with the triplets

We serve the missionaries breakfast, in our apartment, before each transfer.  We all enjoy it.

 The Sisters and Elders at Transfer Breakfast
Front: Sister Davidson, Elders Kemp and Merritt
Rear: Sister Etchells, Elders Killpack and Steed

Ice Cream at McDonald's with the Meade kids.  They are an American family from Laramie, WY.  Sam, between us, is our little buddy.  His parents adopted him from China a year ago.

Sister Gormley and I with Tolleif Hidle from Bømlo island.  He has family that are members in the states.  We are helping the missionaries teach him.

Elder Sadler, Sister Gormley and Elder Killpack dancing with Aurora.  Her mother made us a nice dinner.

Sister Gormley and I with Sister Reidun Solmunde.  She made us an excellent dinner.  She is such a faithful member in Haugesund  and serves in the temple in Stockholm.

Sister Gormley hasn't lost her sense of humor.

Mariana Munoz, a new member in April, invited us to her orchestra performance.  It was excellent.  She is 16 and the sweetest young lady.  She is the only member in her family.  They moved from Columbia to Spain and then to Norway about 5 years ago.

This is Alemat Gebru Gerecheal.  He was one of our YSA leaders.  We have really grown close to him.  He came to Norway as a refugee and was able to complete his college education.  He has not been able to find work because of the poor oil economy.  He joined the church a little over a year ago.  I was recently able to ordain him an Elder.  He was deported back to Ethiopia yesterday.  We will really miss him.  Adrian Preator, from Burlington, served a mission in Ethiopia and is in contact with him.  He is getting him the church contacts there.  He will be a great blessing to the church there.  We will sure miss his warm smile.

Sister Gormley made a Tree of Life pumpkin pie for the Thanksgiving dinner.  She is so talented.  Sure glad that she is my companion.

This is Casper Vaagen.  He is one of our YSA.  He is deaf.  He joined the church a little over two years ago.  He just got his mission call and brought it to the Thanksgiving dinner to read it to us. Sister Davidson had been leaning sign language and read it for us.  He is going to the Arizona Scottsdale ASL mission.  We are so excited for him.

Our Thanksgiving dinner crowd.  Almost half of the members that came are inactive.  We were so glad to see them.

On the left is Sister Meling.  She is 93.  She hasn't been to church in several years.  She came and read several of the poems she has written over the years.  She was so happy to be there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sisters Conference

Dear Friends and Family;

We had a busy week last week as you can see. We drove about 2,000 km and saw more of beautiful Norway.  Sister Gormley has been fighting a bad cold, but she is finally getting better.  We started off by driving to Sisters Conference in Oslo with Sister Davidson and Etchells.  We had a fun road trip with them.  Sister Gormley has been working a month on this conference.  She put together a 60 page booklet on health for the young sisters.  It included recipes, ideas on physical & emotional health, ideas on positive attitude and many other ideas.  It was an amazing document.  If you are interested I can send you the file.  Sister Gormley then presented it to the sisters.  She is so out of her element, but is doing so well.  There were many speakers and and other classes to help the sisters.  I was in the kitchen,  We fed them 5 meals.  Sister Torgesen was in charge of the food.  It was great. President and Sister Hill are so loving with the missionaries. We then traveled down to Drammen to see our old friends, Almar and Ruth Nystad.  They are such dear people.  They were so kind to me when I served here as a young missionary.  Elder and Sister Brostrom, from the office, took us up to Jevnaker to see the glass works. We then drove over the mountains to Haugesund.  We saw some wonderful scenery. Friday the Elders and I took a trip north to Stord while Sister Gormley recuperated at the Hiltunens. They are always so kind to house and feed us. We were able to visit several inactive members.  It is always special to testify to them.  We went back to Haugesund and put on a Halloween party for the Branch.  Elder Killpack and Sister Gormley led the charge.  Everyone had fun.  We had a Baptism for a young sister, Mathea Bruland, on Saturday the 29th of October.  They don't have a font in Haugesund so Elder Merritt baptized her in a Fjord.  It was a little chilly, but no one minded.  It was a special experience.  On Saturday after the baptism we drove a couple hours up to Sauda to help the missionaries teach Willem Veenbrik,  He is 67 and lost his wife last year.  All of his family in the States and Denmark have joined church.  I believe he will as well.  While in Sauda we found the old Branch President from Haugesund who is inactive.  We had a real nice visit with him.  We invited him to come back.  On the way we went by the Memorial of Torleif Knaphus at his birthplace in Knapphus,Vats, Norway.  He was born in 1881, was baptized in 1902 in Oslo and moved to Salt Lake in 1906.  He did many of the sculptures at Temple Square including the Handcart Monument.  He also did the Hill Comorah Monument.  He did the Angel Moroni for the Washington DC temple and may others.  Quite the artist. We enjoyed church in Haugesund on Sunday. We have really become close to this Branch.  A sweet Filipino sister, Sarah, fed us an amazing dinner after church and we headed home.  We were so glad to get back to Stavanger.  Monday for family night the YSA put on a Halloween party for the Ward.  Sister Gormley was decorating again.  Everyone had fun.  Time is marching.  I can't believe it is November.  We miss you all.  Hope all is well.

Love, Eldste & Søster Gormley

The Sisters and President Hill at Sisters Conference

Sister Gormley teaching her class on Health and presenting her booklet.

The Cardon's made some fun decorations.

Feeding the Sisters with Elder Hill.

Sister Gormley's Energy Balls

The Mighty "11".  We went through the MTC with them.

Illustrations for Sister Gormley's booklet by Sister Anita Steffensen. 

Almar Nystad,  great friend.  I even got him to speak a little English for Sister Gormley.

The Brostroms, from North Carolina, took us to Jevnaker

The factory store for Porsgrunn china

Sister Gormley found some Norwegian china that she has always wanted.

The stavkirkie (stick church) in Heddal, Norway.  The largest one in Norway.  It was built in the early 1200's

Haugesund Halloween party

Eldste & Søster Gormley in Haugesund

Baptism of Mathea Bruland

Memorial of Torleif Knaphus at his birthplace in Knapphus,Vats, Norway.  

The Fjord near Sauda, Norway

YSA at the Stavanger Halloween party

Ole Johnsen "The Cat"

Eldste & Søster Gormley in Stavanger