Monday, May 25, 2015


Dearest Family,

In the last few transfers I have thought a bit about the meaning of time. President Uchtdorf taught us that one of the reasons that we feel so sad when something ends is that we, being eternal beings, are not used to the idea of endings. Time , in many ways, seems to lose meaning. I can't even imagine how the eternities work if they aren't based on the mortal boundaries of time. I guess we'll see when we get there!

This last week we were able to see some wonderful things as we continually see Tonini and Jona get ready for their baptism. They will be baptized on Saturday and are ready for it...well about as ready as anyone can be to make a binding covenant with their Creator. We had talked to Sister Mimoza this week about Jona and how we didn't know what to do to help her have Sunday attire, and she totally offered a skirt and a blouse for her. We also presented Tonini with a white shirt and tie (he has never worn a tie before, not even for his wedding). Neither of them are huge fans of the kind of clothes, but they expressed that they are willing to do it if that is what the Lord asks. Beautiful, isn't it?

We have also been working with another man named Mark. Mark is also a wonderful human being that has been prepared by God to receive the message that we have been called to preach to him. Over the first two weeks that we had begun teaching him, he read the first two books of Nephi and really likes the messages in the book. His wife has not shown the same excitement for the message that he has (she came to church last week, but net this week), but he still keeps chugging along. He came to church again this week, and though there were few, he stayed, and enjoyed it. I think that sometimes I underestimate the power that the Spirit of the Lord has in the lives of others. People feel things that we don't know they feel and can find answers to questions in ways we can't foresee, or even see at all. It is wonderful and beautiful to see the Lord work through Mark. He is working to be baptized in about a month.

We had an interesting opportunity this week to help someone out that was having a bit of a scary medical episode. It helped me realize even more the need to be ready. It was such a blessing to have one there that knew medical procedures, but even more so to have the Priesthood there. In the necessary moment, I thought about myself, my thoughts, my actions... We cannot prepare for those moments in the moment it happens, we need to be ready beforehand. I was so grateful that I could, with reassurance, put my hands on their head and take part in that blessing. I want to be ready in every way to do what the Lord wants me to do, and that means I have a lot of work to do. I guess there is no time like the present to do that than now.

Well, I hope that you all have a wonderful week. I hope that Brigham, Grant, and Dad (but especially Brigham) heal up well from their runs. Happy Memorial Day! Have a wonderful grad party Brigham, and happy early birthday Grant. You are so stinkin' old. Looking at those pictures from the marathon that Mom sent, it looks like you are graying quite a bit.

Elder Ostergaard

Monday, May 18, 2015


Dear Family,

This past week I think was a great example of how the Lord generally works in our lives. It was going alright, but then, comeThursday, Friday, and Saturday, we didn't have much of anything going our way. However, as we continued knocking on doors, we were praying that the Lord would do His work in His time. On Sunday we were pleased to see 5 investigators in Sacrament (the most in quite a while). Sister Mimoza Pali (I don't know how much I have talked about her, but she is so wonderful, in 20 years or so when she is about 75, Shkoder has 2 stakes, and Albania has a mission, everyone is going to look back at her as being the momma of Shkodra. She is so wonderful and though maybe she really doesn't understand a ton about the Gospel yet -- she is a recent convert of only 9 months or so -- she's really doing wonderful things.) Gave a talk and taught the Sunday School lesson as well, and we were able to have a really good set of meetings.

The biggest thing, however, was after church. We sat down and talked to Tonini and Jona. They came in looking so good, cleaned up, and happy. We asked them how they had been doing on their commitments -- for Tonini to stop sports bets and Word of Wisdom stuff and for Jona to pray about if she should be baptized. Tonini said that he has been staying away from the betting, and though he has slipped on some word of wisdom stuff, he knows he needs to stuff now in order to be ready for his baptism on the 30th. He said with real conviction this time that he was going to stop. We are going to take him some hot chocolate this week so that he can do that instead of coffee. Jona, when we asked her (by the way, she finished reading the Book of Mormon early last week...crazy) if she had prayed for an answer told us that she indeed had, and that she feels like she needs to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!!!!! It was so wonderful! She is willing to leave what has really been a lot of her life and change it, because it is right. She will be baptized with her father on the 30th! What an answer to our prayers.

We don't have a ton of time, so I am going to have to roll out of her, but I love you guys! One of the pictures is at a martyrs monument her in Shkoder and the other of us playing dominoes with some xhaxhis (old men).

Elder Ostergaard

Monday, May 11, 2015


Hey Family!

It was good to talk to you yesterday and see all of your smiling faces. You be a-lookin' great and it was awesome to be able to just talk for a little bit. There are so many things that I was not able to say, but that is okay. It is also interesting to see just how people have changed...and mostly how you haven't. You guys are still great!

This past week we have seen a bit of what you could call a lack of success I guess...if you didn't understand the principle of faith! We haven't been seeing a ton of countable success, but whatever it is, I am sure that the Lord has a plan for it all and we are excited to fulfill that. It was mentioned to me that maybe there was some frustration about the work, and I actually don't think so. I just really hope that even though we are not perfect that we are on that road that will allow the Lord to work through us. I guess if my faith about anything ever wavers, it isn't that the Lord can't do what he plans to do or that the work isn't right, it is that we somehow aren't doing what we need to be doing in order to receive the blessings of the Lord. The beautiful (and really difficult to understand) thing however is that the Lord doesn't wait on us to be perfect to bless us. If that was the case, He would be waiting an awful long time to bless us.

One thing that stuck out to me this week was actually at our multi-zone conference. President had asked a sister to stand up and share a success story from their companionship. When she stood up, I was expecting something about how 37 people were baptized or something, but instead she shared the story of one of their investigators (who wasn't even baptized yet) that they were watching experience a mighty change of heart. It hit me how the success and miracle stories that are all around us are simple and that we, if we keep our eyes and ears open will be able to see them. They are small, but they are there and they are important.

Crazy thing! Today while we were on our way to Lac (it is a city about an hour or so away that has a famous church) we walked past a store in Shkoder and a guy walked out and yelled "Elder Ostergaard!" It was Elder Brown, an elder who went home right when I came in to the field ( he extended for an extra 2 weeks so I got to know him just a bit). There were 4 other ex-missionaries with him including Elder Austin, my trainer! Because of his parasite and getting sent back state-side I haven't seen him since second transfer, so that was super cool. We also were able to see a couple of other ex-missionaries while at zone conference. It is weird to see that side of life.

This week, Tonini and his family didn't make it out to church. We will be going out and seeing them tomorrow and hope to help them continually realize the importance of constant and sincere devotion to the Lord and His gospel. As we tried to help his daughter Jona accept a baptismal date this week, we ran into a bit of a stumbling block as she expressed her difficulties in changing churches as she was Catholic and has been her whole life. I, though I have tried to imagine the difficulties that that would bring, can't really imagine what sort of difficulties that would bring. It requires an entirely different view on the most important things in life. It requires you to be recognized by a different title. You are automatically at least somewhat alienated from what used to be a major part of you. I guess all that we can do is teach pure doctrine powerfully and in that way show that it is not just worth it, it is a much better option. Needless to say, we have some prayers going up to heaven for that family.

We are pushing to make an extra effort to find leaders. This proves a bit of an added challenge to the whole missionary work thing. Not only do we look for those that will accept the message, but those that will be willing to lead others in the effort of this great cause afterwards. The tricky thing is that...we can't really tell who those people are. There were some "find-the-elect" sunglasses at the MTC that we could have gotten to make the whole distinguishing work easier, but they were $45, way out of my price range. So, that puts us back at normal led-by-the-Spirit missionary work. I guess all that we can do is talk to everyone and hope and pray that the Lord will put those chosen spirits in our paths. And He will.

Hey, I love you guys a lot! I hope that you are having a wonderful week and that Brigham's visa and everything is going smoothly. You should have just gone to Albania Brigham, it would have been a lot easier! Just kidding, if the prophet said Brazil, that is because you will be ripping it up down there and that is what is supposed to happen.

Elder Ostergaard

Monday, May 4, 2015


Hey Family,

I hope that you are on the way to having another incredible week! Last night as we knelt in prayer before going to bed, I was just shocked that once again I was telling the Lord that it was the end of another week. It goes so so fast. I have definitely been thinking about how important it is that we use our time in a useful, productive way, because it just kind of leaves us behind like James Bond leaves an explosion -- not even looking back (I guess Lot's wife should have learned a bit from him).

One of the wonderful miracles that happened was on Sunday when Tonini and his daughter Jona came to church. Tonini has been a regular, but this was Jona's first and it was great. We had a bit of a rough time getting people into church yesterday (as well as in the past in general, we have been averaging about 14), and so as I blessed the Sacrament with Elder Wilcox, I was praying that the Spirit would be with them to realize that even though we were few, it was still the truth. (One of my favorite book quotes from all time is from the novel 1984 by George Orwell were it is stated "sanity is not statistical.") Being Fast Sunday I also had an opportunity to bear my testimony. I was struck with the thought of how the Church would have been in those early days with the Savior and His Apostles. I can imagine there would have been a lot of noise, few people (depending on if there was free food or not) and just generally not looking a whole lot like how D&C stated it by being a house of order. Things take time. The Lord knows that, and we should learn it too. Well, as a beautiful answer to prayer, during their introductions in Sunday School, they expressed that they believed in what was going on...or at least were working on believing. It was really great to hear Jona say that she was here for the first time and hoped that she would be around a whole lot more. The Lord doesn't need grand cathedrals to perform his work. Sometimes it happens in small stables and sometimes in the first floor of a small apartment building on the outskirts of Albanian cities.

Another wonderful blessing came last night as Elder Crandall and I went tracting. We knocked a door and were let in and ended up sitting down with a mom, dad, and daughter. At first the dad and daughter showed a lot of resistance ( we learned later on that much of the daughter's resistance was because she thought that we were part of another religious organization that Albanians aren't too fond of here), but after a while of talking we were eventually able to testify of Joseph Smith and the truthfulness of the work that we were a part of. Elder Crandall bore a really wonderful witness that touched the heart especially of the father and helped them understand that maybe there indeed was something in the words we were saying. It was really cool to see after he bore his testimony how the dad asked once again how long he had been learning the language. He was just floored that it had only been three months. He recognized it as a gift from God. The gift of tongues is real. However, I think that a gift that I have seen prevalent much more in the mission is the gift of communicating in the language of the Spirit. People can understand the importance of the message even when they might not have a whole lot of idea what is going on. We will be going back there on Tuesday and hope to be able to bring the Spirit into their home so that they will continue to want to hear this message of truth.

As for English courses, we have not been doing so hot in numbers. Perhaps it is the time of year and perhaps it is just not as exciting for the city as it used to be. We will see as time progresses.

As for Skype on Sunday, at about 8 o'clock I will give you guys a call. Our call will be 40 minutes long, so if you have any questions get 'em ready.

Well, I hope that you have a wonderful week and I will be excited to hear about it when we talk on Sunday!

Elder Ostergaard