Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A marvelous work is about to go forth- News from the Basement

--Aske, Emil, Louise, Pernille, and the center.

During the past few months we have had the privilege of teaching some of the most incredible young people that I have ever met. We meet in the basement of our old Danish Church. The church where Elder Wilberg baptized his first investigator, fifty years ago.

-- JJ, Mark (returned Missionary), and Emil

We have been asked by Bishop Held to help prepare five eager young adults for their missions.

--Benjamin (New convert), Elder Shreeve, Elder Brown, Emil, JJ.
and the Sister Missionaries, Sister Liljenquist, Stewart, and Roberts.

Many of them have already been on two week mini-missions...a time when they lived and worked with the full time missionaries here in Denmark. These kids (excuse me..young adults) have shared the gospel at the train station, on the walking streets of Odense, and with their friends at school.

--Elder Clayton, Paul, JJ, and Elder Barnard

JJ had been a member of the church for only a few months when he baptized our good friend Paul (Li-Cong) from China. I have never seen such enthusiasm for teaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have learned many things from all of them about how to be a good missionary.

---Aske and Emil

Through out our Missionary Training Class (MTC), we have used this theme-- from the entrance of every Brigham Young University (Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii). The Theme- that every missionary and every new member should enter their day to learn, or study hard to learn about the gospel, and then go out to serve. If we forget either one of these reminders we can easily get lost in the world of bright ideas, or distractions, and loose the joy we discover when we actually go out and serve the Lord and his children.

I have told these good students how blessed we are to be called to teach this rare group of Danes (and our dear Greenlander- JJ). They love to learn and they are eager to serve.

This is the story of the first of the five to be called on a mission from our little MTC (Missionary Training Center) in the basement of the Odense Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

--Emil, Aske, Rene

Emil Held has been called to the Greek Athens Mission. Congratulations, Emil !

--Athens, Greece and Emil and Aske (another "soon to be Missionary")

Emil (Eee-meal) is going to an old mission that was opened almost 2,000 years ago, only fifty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

In about 49 AD, missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ sailed to Greece (Acts 16:10) to introduce the people to the Savior. At that time, the city of Athens was full of idols to honor their favorite Gods. It has been said that, "It is easier to find a God in Athens than a man."

The town square was noisy and full of merchants and shoppers, so a group of Greek philosophers, leaders and intellectuals invited Paul, the strange Christian preacher, to speak on Mars Hill, just above the market place.
On the hill, this small, brown eyed man, stood among the "smartest" men on earth. He pointed to the magnificent temples and forty foot high ivory and gold goddesses. He did not deny the existence of these traditional gods. Instead, he made their gods seem uncaring, powerless, and unconcerned about the needs of the people of Greece.

The crowd enjoyed Paul's unusual, bold speech. It was their custom to listen to every new idea that came along. "Many spent their lives in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." (Acts 17:21)
Paul was well received until he bore a personal witness that Jesus Christ had died and then had risen from the grave. The Greeks were astonished. They called him a "Babbler" (Acts 17: 18). They "Mocked and ridiculed him." (Acts 17:32)

He bore an eye witness testimony to the unbelieving Greeks --that he saw the Savior, Jesus Christ after he was crucified.
The Prophet, David O. Mckay describes the significance of Paul's testimony.
He wrote:
"Now, in the oldest authentic document in existence relating or testifying to the resurrection of Christ, we find Paul saying this to the Corinthians (about fifty miles from Athens)...
' For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all... He was seen of me, also....' " (1 Corinthians 15: 3-8)
Paul planted a seed on Mars Hill that day. He was disappointed at the response of the intellectuals that surrounded him. He left Athens discouraged, with only a handful of interested followers.
Later, when he traveled to Corinth, he had a visioin in the night. The Lord appeared unto him and lifted him up. He promised:
"Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18: 9-10) This city was so full of listeners, that he spent a year and a half bringing the gospel to soften the hearts of the friendly Greeks in Corinth. Emil Held has had much practice softening the hearts of the people of Odense, Denmark. He has been looking forward to being a missionary long before we arrived here on our mission. He graduated from Seminary last spring but still goes every morning to study the Book of Mormon with his friends.
I have seen him sit with our little "80's Ladies" who have their own Institute class during lunch on Wednesdays. He is enthusiastic about sharing the gospel with anyone who is willing to listen.

Emil has studied to be a chef.

---above, Emil and his brother Mads, at Super Saturday.
below, Emil at a Halloween party.
He, and his good friend Aske, have taken several years of Drama classes. He and Aske both love to act and dress up in unusual hats, and costumes. They both jump into life with both feet.
-- Emil, Bishop Held, and our mission leader, Steffen Haahr with his little daughter, Anna
Elder Wilberg enjoying the dishes with Bishop Held
Emil comes from a strong family who supports missionary work. His father is the Bishop of the Odense 1st Ward. He is always down in the center and has many ideas about how we can improve our mission here in Odense. He advertises our events and coming baptisms on facebook, encourages our International Nights, and even helps wash and dry our dishes. He is a leader of a very successful old fashioned family ward.

--Mads, Sofie, Emil's Mom: Lene, Bishop Held with a broken leg, I think from playing
frisbee with his sons, and Emil.
Emil hugs his brother Mads, and Emil, Sofie, and Mads...
The Held family lives just a few minutes from us in our favorite little village called "Aasum". We call it "Awsome Aasum" (pronounced "ahsome O-some). They live in a wonderful old farmhouse with a u-shaped barn. Both of the Held sons have served mini missions with the full time missionaries. They are all excited about Emil's missiona call. Bishop Held is busy finding out everything you ever wanted to know about the Greece Athens Mission on google.

-- Emil and Aske long time friends.
Emil and Aske saying "Good bye" to the year 2009- what a new year they
have in front of them. Aske just turned his mission papers in.
Soon, we will say "Good bye" to a great, dark eyed young man, who will bring his testimony and great love for the Savior to the people of Greece. At the end of June he will report to the MTC in Provo, for two to three months, then on to Greece. I am looking forward to hearing his voice from Mars Hill. He knows, like Paul, that Jesus Christ still lives.
He is ready to leave his good friends, and home ward. We will never forget him.

He is ready to leave his comfortable old Danish farmhouse.

He has been truly blessed. He is ready to serve the Lord.

Soon he will walk the ancient streets of Greece- preaching the gospel for which the Apostle Paul gave his life. Emil will give two years of his life for this cause.

Memories on Mars Hill
Paul was not the last missionary to bear his testimony of Jesus Christ on Mars Hill. Through the years, Prophets, Church leaders, Mission Presidents, missionaries and members have stood where Paul stood. Mars Hill is no longer an alter for an "Unknown God".. it has become a "Sacred Grove." When you have a chance, read these testimonies given in the last few years. Begin with the voice of President David O. Mckay. (click on each page to enlarge the print)

Last year, Elder Eric Paul Mortensen climbed Mars Hill (in the rain) with his companion, Elder Enslin, and the Mission President of the Greece Athens Mission, President John Galanos. Elder Mortensen recorded his experience on his mission blog,

This is a record of their memorable experience on Mars Hill. (Click on the text to enlarge)

In the fall, Emil will join Elders from all over the world in this ancient cradle of culture and art. Who can describe the mission that awaits him.

--JJ, Pernille, and Emil
Until then, we will continue to learn together how to be a good missionary. I have a lot to learn. I am going to have a hard time saying good bye to these good by one by one.

Paul described the future of Emil and our handful of missionaries who have the courage to leave their comfortable homes, school, family and friends for two years of their lives.

"...Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (Letter from Paul to the Corinthians of Greece- 1 Corinthians 2: 9)
A marvelous work is about to go forth. Thank you all, for your willingness to serve.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog. Thanks for sharing.


    Keith Held