It was the middle of winter and I was serving my eighth month as a missionary in the Asana area of the Bergen Norway District. Although we tracted many hours, we taught few discussions. A baptism seemed like a miracle.
Bergen is a city built on and among seven mountains on the west coast of Norway. The mountains catch every storm that rolls up or down the coast. The clouds dump their rain on missionaries and nonmissionaries alike. The winds blow the rain horizontally, so umbrellas are used more like shields. We were lucky if our raincoats and boots dried overnight so we could wear them the next day.
One particular day the wind and rain were even much worse than usual. My companion, Sister Dolinsky, and I debated the wisdom of going out at all in such harsh weather. We knew if we didn’t we were sure to feel that depressing feeling missionaries feel when they aren’t out working. The severe weather helped us to decide to stay in and catch up on our records.
The day passed, and the storm showed no signs of stopping. Soon it was 5:30—time for us to go out for our evening tracting. We could see the fjord from our window; the water was dark and choppy. The winds were blowing full force, and the rain beat against the window. We knew we couldn’t stay in all evening too, so we dropped to our knees and asked the Lord for the strength we would need to go back out. When we got up, Sister Dolinsky said she felt the Lord wanted us to read Alma 17. We sat down at our table and began to read about Alma and the four sons of Mosiah. In verse five we read: “Now these are the circumstances which attended them in their journeyings, for they had many afflictions; they did suffer much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit.”
The fierceness of the storm seemed to diminish, and our discomfort seemed very minor as we read about those missionaries’ sufferings. The Spirit filled our tiny apartment as we continued to read verses 10–12 [Alma 17:10–12]:
“And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.
“And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites [we substituted Norwegians for Lamanites], thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
“And it came to pass that the hearts of the [missionaries] took courage to go forth unto the [Norwegians] to declare unto them the word of God.”
After reading those verses we knew that the Lord knew the discomfort we experienced tracting in such harsh weather, yet we also knew that he expected us to take courage and go forth in affliction to bring the word of God to the people we were called to serve. Our afflictions were small compared to those of Alma and the sons of Mosiah.
We put on our coats and took the bus to our tracting area. At the first door we knocked on we found a young man who worked out on the North Sea on an oil rig. He said he wasn’t usually home, but the storm had kept him from going out to sea to work. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and he said he would like to read it. We gave him a copy and left with a good feeling.
The knowledge that the Lord knew of my small sufferings as a missionary, and that his Spirit comforted and encouraged us to continue with his work by inspiring my companion and me to turn to the scriptures, stayed with me the rest of my mission and will stay with me for the rest of my life.