A FEW years ago, Roald and Elsebeth, a couple then in their late 40’s, lived comfortably in Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city. Together with their daughter and son, Isabel and Fabian, they faithfully shared in the activities of the congregation. Roald served as an elder and Elsebeth as a pioneer, while Isabel and Fabian did well as publishers.
However, in September 2009, the family decided to do something different—preach for a week in an isolated area. So Roald and Elsebeth together with Fabian, then aged 18, traveled to Nordkyn, a peninsula situated in the county of Finnmark, above the Arctic Circle. There, in the village of Kjøllefjord, they preached alongside other brothers and sisters who had also come to that isolated region to share in the preaching work. “At the start of that week,” recalls Roald, “I felt quite satisfied that I had managed to arrange my affairs in such a way that I could share in this special activity for a whole week.” But later that same week, Roald began to feel uneasy. What happened?
AN UNEXPECTED QUESTION
“Out of the blue,” relates Roald, “Mario, a pioneer serving in Finnmark, asked us if we would be willing to move to a town named Lakselv to help the congregation of 23 publishers there.” Roald was taken aback by the unexpected question. He explains: “Elsebeth and I had thought about the possibility of serving where the need was greater—but that would be later when the children had left home.” Still, even during the few days he had been preaching in this isolated region, Roald could see that people were willing to learn about Jehovah. They needed help now—not later. “The question bothered my conscience and even robbed me of my sleep for several nights,” he recalls. Then Mario drove Roald and his family to Lakselv, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Kjøllefjord. Mario wanted the visitors to see for themselves the small congregation there.
In Lakselv, Andreas, one of the two local elders, showed the visitors the area and the Kingdom Hall. The congregation gave them a warm reception and told Roald and Elsebeth that they would love it if their family could move there to help with the Kingdom work. With a smile, Andreas said that he had already arranged a job interview for Roald and Fabian! What would the visitors do?
WHAT CHOICE TO MAKE?
Fabian’s first reaction was: “I don’t have a desire to move here.” The thought of leaving his close friends with whom he had grown up in his home congregation and of living in a small town did not appeal to him. Also, he had not finished his training to become an electrician. However, when Isabel (then aged 21) was asked what she thought about moving, she exclaimed: “That’s exactly what I have always wanted to do!” But then, says Isabel: “When I thought more about it, I wondered, ‘Is this really a good idea? Will I miss my friends? Should I just stay in my congregation where things are convenient and predictable?’” What was Elsebeth’s reaction to the invitation? “I felt that Jehovah had given our family an assignment,” she says, “but I also thought about our newly renovated house and all the things in it that we had obtained during the last 25 years.”
When the special week was over, Roald and his family returned to Bergen, but they could not stop thinking about their Christian brothers and sisters in Lakselv, some 1,300 miles (2,100 km) away. “I said many prayers to Jehovah,” says Elsebeth, “and I kept in touch with the friends we had met by exchanging pictures and experiences.” Says Roald: “I needed time to let the thought of moving sink in. Also, I had to consider if it would be possible in practical terms. How would we maintain ourselves? I prayed a lot to Jehovah and spoke with my family and with experienced brothers.” Fabian recalls: “The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really didn’t have a valid reason to say no. I prayed often to Jehovah, and the desire to move gradually became stronger.” And Isabel? To prepare herself for the possible move, she began pioneering in her hometown. After six months of pioneering, during which she also spent much time on personal Bible study, she felt ready to make the big move.
TAKING STEPS TO REACH THEIR GOAL
As the desire to serve where there is a greater need for publishers grew, the family took steps to reach their goal. Roald had a well-paying job that he really enjoyed, but he asked for a year-long leave of absence. However, his employer asked him to stay on as a part-time worker—two weeks on, six weeks off. “My income was drastically reduced, but it worked out fine,” says Roald.
Elsebeth relates: “My husband asked me to try to find a house in Lakselv and to rent out our house in Bergen. It took a lot of time and effort, but we succeeded. After a while, the children found part-time jobs,” she adds, “and they help us cover the expenses for food and transportation.”
Says Isabel: “Since the town we moved to is small, my biggest challenge was to find work to support myself as a pioneer. At times, it seemed hopeless.” Still, by taking any small part-time job she could find—nine during the first year—Isabel was able to cover her expenses. How did things work out for Fabian? “To complete my schooling as an electrician, I still needed to work as an apprentice. I did so in Lakselv. Later, I passed my exam and found a part-time job as an electrician.”
HOW OTHERS EXPANDED THEIR SERVICE
Marelius and his wife, Kesia, also wanted to serve where there was a greater need for publishers. Says Marelius, now aged 29: “Convention talks and interviews about pioneering moved me to think about expanding my service.” However, for Kesia, now aged 26, the idea of moving away from family was an obstacle. “I dreaded the thought of being far away from the people I love,” she says. Furthermore, Marelius worked full-time to pay the mortgage on their house. He says: “With the help of Jehovah and many prayers in which we asked for his help to make changes, we were able to make the move.” First, they spent more time on Bible study. Then, the couple sold their house, quit their jobs, and moved in August 2011 to the city of Alta, in northern Norway. There, to support themselves as pioneers, Marelius works as an accountant and Kesia works in a store.
Knut and Lisbeth, a couple now in their mid-30’s, were touched by Yearbook accounts about those who serve where there is a greater need for Kingdom publishers. “These experiences made us think about serving in a foreign country,” says Lisbeth, “but I hesitated because I doubted that this was something an ordinary person like me could do.” Still, they took steps to reach their goal. Says Knut: “We sold our apartment and, to save funds, moved in with my mother. Later, to get a taste of serving in a foreign territory, we moved for one year to an English-language congregation in Bergen, where we stayed with Lisbeth’s mother.” Before long, Knut and Lisbeth felt ready to make the move, and a big one at that—to Uganda. They return to Norway two months a year to work. That way they have sufficient funds to live and preach full-time in Uganda the rest of the year.
“TASTE AND SEE THAT JEHOVAH IS GOOD”
How did things turn out for these willing workers? Roald says: “We spend much more time together as a family in this isolated area than we did in Bergen. Our family has grown closer. Seeing the spiritual progress of our children has been a blessing.” He adds: “Also, we now have a more relaxed attitude toward material things. They do not mean as much as we thought they did.”
Elsebeth saw the need to learn another language. Why? The territory of the Lakselv Congregation includes the village of Karasjok, in the heartland of the Sami—the indigenous people of the northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. So to make it easier to reach these indigenous people, Elsebeth took a course in the Sami language. Now she is able to have a simple conversation in that language. Is she enjoying her new territory? She says, beaming: “I conduct six Bible studies. Where else would I want to be than right here!”
Fabian, who now serves as a pioneer and a ministerial servant, relates that he and Isabel helped three teenagers in their new congregation who needed encouragement to get more involved in the congregation’s activities. All three youths are now active in the ministry. In fact, two of them are baptized and served as auxiliary pioneers in March 2012. One of the teenagers who had been drifting away from the truth thanked Fabian and Isabel for helping her to “get going again.” Says Fabian: “I was really moved when she said that. What a joy to help someone!” Isabel notes: “In this assignment, I really have ‘tasted and seen that Jehovah is good.’” (Ps. 34:8) She adds: “On top of that, serving here is really fun!”
Marelius and Kesia now have a simpler standard of living but a richer life. The congregation in Alta, to which they moved, now has 41 publishers. Marelius says: “Looking back, it’s so encouraging to see how much our life has changed. We thank Jehovah that we can serve him as pioneers here. Nothing is more fulfilling.” Kesia adds: “I learned to trust more completely in Jehovah, and he has taken good care of us. I also found that living farther away from my relatives helps me to value the moments that we spend together even more. I’ve never regretted our decision.”
And how are Knut and Lisbeth doing in Uganda? Knut relates: “It took time to adjust to the new environment and culture. Water, electricity, and stomach problems—they all come and go, but we can conduct as many Bible studies as we want!” Lisbeth says: “Just half an hour from where we live, there are territories that have never been reached with the good news. Yet, when we go there, we find people reading the Bible, asking us to teach them. Teaching such humble individuals the Bible’s message is a joy beyond compare!”
How happy our Leader, Christ Jesus, must be to observe from heaven how the preaching work that he started is being carried out in ever more regions of the earth! Yes, for all of God’s people, it is a heartfelt joy to offer themselves willingly to carry out Jesus’ command to “make disciples of people of all the nations.”—Matt. 28:19, 20.