Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31, 2015

Bergen, Norway

We took a plane to Bergen! It was way cool and is a huge city especially compared to Tromso which has the population of Laguna Niguel and is the size of Manhattan. It was rainy most of the time. We went to a member's house and he spoke the most crazy Norwegian I have ever heard. It wasn't even that bad, I just had no idea what they were saying. I also asked these teenage girls what fun things there were to do in Bergen in English (because Norwegians love English) and they responded with some answer, I don't know what. The best part was they continued their conversation in Norwegian and were talking about English boys and I totally knew what they were saying. Kind of felt like Jason Bourne, just saying.

We are in an apartment which are among some of the most expensive apartments in the world and top three among missionaries along with Tokyo and London. It's pretty nice, it has a kitchen, living room and a bedroom and bathroom. It is really dark because there are no lights anywhere - I guess it's a Norwegian thing. We get on the computer at the library, but some of the areas in Norway have them in the house. It just depends on where you are.

Life is good here. Went to Bergen for Wednesday and Thursday. Crazy news - we got our first investigator in four weeks. That's what it's like being in Tromso and in Norway in general. 

It's been raining here for the past few days which makes contacting a little hard. Maybe contacting in South America is not hard, but here it's mostly older women laughing in our face and atheists proclaiming it. But, got to put in the work and try.

Eldste Hoopes

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

(Jackson with two members of the branch whose birthdays were also this week)

So this week was swell, but a little slow. So life is good. We had church yesterday and we wheeled the fisherman up and down the hill once more, he's a jolly guy once you can understand him. 

Mostly we go searching for people in the area who are on our list but don't come to church, so far no luck. I"m really thinking we're here so we can strengthen the members and keep them going strong. Unfortunately we don't get much time this week because we are going to Bergen on Wednesday for a conference. That should be pretty cool.

Haven't seen the night time in a month so that's weird but I'm told it is coming soon. And when that comes it means winter so we are just embracing for that.

Norwegian is okay, a little rough but it comes and comes and comes.

My birthday was yesterday and it was nice. Thanks for all the wishes from everyone and I have for sure felt the love. Kind of weird having a birthday out here, we didn't do much. We went to church and looked for some people but just when I thought all was over and we were heading to church to drop some stuff off the sisters surprised me and had a little set up going. It was super nice and we had some Norwegian waffles (with sour cream and jam, it's real good.) So that was nice and I for sure do not feel 19. It's just another number but I feel a little closer to the big 2-0 where I'm not a teenager. 

Have a good week and thanks for all.

Love ya lots, Eldste Hoopes

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015

So this week we were talking to a Muslim man and sometimes we want to hear about Muhammad for a little bit and as we were talking and listening to the 7 pillars this quite attractive girl comes over to us in a dress and a sash that says "Bride to be." I may not know too much Norwegian but I do know the phrase for "can I have a kiss." My companion and I just looked at each other with such fear and anticipation for what the following events were going to be. We didn't say anything for a little bit because we were stunned but just kind of looked at her. She must have thought we didn't know Norwegian because she asked us again in English. And I'm just sitting there thinking "lady I know what you asked but I do not know how to answer your question." After all her friends were done laughing we finally responded that we were missionaries. They all sighed and walked down the street a little more and the next (extremely lucky) guy she asked gave her a kiss.

We went to Alta on Wednesday and Thursday and that was sick. I was the most north missionary for a whole 24 hours. Elder Cheney and I went out into a town called Nyvoll. Which is even higher than Alta and knocked on doors. No one was home but we got the most incredible views. We probably hiked three miles into the hills looking for houses. Only one person opened the door and looked at us and must have thought we were crazy walking in the rain in a town where she probably thought she was alone.

There's a man in our ward who has serious dementia and is a fisherman. The fishermen in Norway speak the most insane Norwegian you have ever heard. So, he speaks a language I barely understand in a dialect that I have no idea about. He talks a lot about WWII, Putin, Obama, his brother and how someone cheated him out of some money. I know when he is speaking about WWII because he uses words such as "bombe" and "torpedo" so I have some context clues. He lives in a nursing care facility. So we decided to get him to church. We had to wheel him to church which is down a giant hill. On the way down we just had to pull back big time, but that was no problem. As soon as church started he didn't talk about explosions at all, which was awesome. After church we had to take him back up the hill to his place so Elder Gingrich and I got in some good leg work.

One thing I noticed is that in Norway the stores are not nearly as inviting as they are in America. If you see a Costco from a mile away you know you're getting some good stuff in there. But here, all the grocery stores have blacked out windows and the stores are small and tiny. I guess that's Europe.

The language is tough, just when you think you got it, you don't. But my companion has been out for 10 months and knows Norwegian well.

Have a good week, love ya'll keep the info coming.
Eldste Hoopes

Nyvoll - northern most missionary spot in the world

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015

So we finally got here to Tromso which is crazy but we made it. It's hard because I have to carry absolutely everything in two suitcases for two years but whatever. So to get here we had to take a flight from Oslo to Tromso, which seems easy enough but the Assistant to the Mission President (AP) booked the flight and thought my name was Clayton??? So super chill. So had to haggle at the ticket window for like 30 minutes with a Norweigian but after a while another guy came along and was like "your nickname is Clayton" and pushed me through security. And then after that no problems so that was super cool on my first day in the country.

All I have to say is wow. Everyone is absolutely gorgeous. It's kind of cold but it feels so good. I hate it being too hot and since we have to wear white shirts all day it's nice being cold.

I probably will leave before Christmas time but I might be here for Morketid (dark time) in which the sun doesn't come up. But as for right now the sun doesn't go down. Literally ever. No matter what time I wake up in the night the sun is up. Yeah it's insane but so is this country.

When it gets dark I will probably get to see the northern lights but that really isn't for a while. There's 6 active Norwegians in the branch and then an American family of 6 that's here until December. So basically no one. And no one wants to talk but they are all so uncomfortable so I just laugh all the time.

You can see and smell the ocean from just about anywhere, it's just a tiny little island with a pretty small population compared to anything in the States. It's also the most expensive place ever, FYI! And as missionaries we're poor so that's a fantastic conversation.

Loads of muslims who like to talk your ear off about Mohammad so that's cool. I guess it's kind of how everyone else feels when we talk to them.

We'll talk to people half in English half in Norwegian. Whenever we stop someone on the street in Norwegian they always pretend like they don't know norsk, but then we start speaking in English they run away because they know we caught them in their lie.

My companion is Elder Gingrich from Virginia, he's cool and he's teaching me loads of stuff. I learn a lot. On Wednesday night we're going to Alta, and I will be one of the highest (northernmost) missionaries in the world.

We also have two sisters here in Tromso. They're super cool too. Soster Peterson and Soster Nielsen.

Everyone is super weird here and I just love it. The other missionaries will always be like "wow that was so weird I don't even know what happened" and I will just go on and on about how cool they are. Maybe I'm just here to be friends with the weird people. Mainly because the mission president told us our main focus is just keeping members going to church. And I see why. It's a struggle for these people and four of them Skype in to go to church.

Norwegian is great, it's coming along but we'll see how well I actually do.

You'd all get a kick out of this place. It's absolutely breathtaking, just like everything here. What a great place and what a great time. Hope all is well. Also Glenn Martin GBS (Jackson wanted this included on the blog.)

Ha Det!
Much love, Eldste Hoopes

                                    Jackson with Eldste Gingrich, Soster Nielsen and Soster Peterson

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 6, 2015

Note from Jackson's mom: After waiting at the airport on Monday August 3, trying to fly out to Norway, the flight was cancelled and Jackson and the other missionaries heading out to Norway had to go back to the MTC. They flew out Wednesday August 5, in the afternoon. The letter below is from Jackson after he arrived:

I finally made it to Norway. Wow absolutely incredible. It smells like ocean and cigarettes, so basically home.

Norway is kind of like a cloudy Orange County. At the airport it kind of looked like everyone was related to me and Ethan. Wow I am amongst my people after such a long separation.

So my first area will be Tromso. Way north, way cold, way rainy. You have no idea how stoked I am. They sound like Norwegian James Bond.

Much love, Eldste Hoopes

On the layover in Dallas, a random lady took and sent this picture to us

In Norway at the mission home once they arrived!