Friday, December 31, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

She's Coming Home!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We spoke to Brooke on Christmas Day and while it was great to hear her voice, we are all pretty focused on her return. She gets home Thursday about 10:30 p.m.!!!!! You are welcome to join us at the airport. She'll report on her mission on January 9th.

Rumor has it Santa Claus will be making a trip to SLC on the 31st and New Year's Day is doubling as Christmas Day at the Larsen house this year. We are excited to say the least!

Thanks to all who have followed Brooke's missionary experiences. As her parents we appreciated your kind gestures, emails, letters, packages and mostly, prayers, sent her way. She is an amazing young lady and your influences have helped to shape and mold her into the person and missionary she is today. So, thank you all.

In her final email this morning, a private one, Brooke expressed her love for family, God, the Gospel and the people of Ukraine. She sends her love to all and says she is excited to see everyone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Mike & Teresa

Merry Christmas!

Hey family!

Good morning and Merry Christmas this week! How are you all doing after your long night? It sounds like your party was a hit and that you had a lot of fun!

Mom, I am glad that everything went okay with you doctors appt. . . . I am excited to talk to you all. It looks like you all had fun in St. George and Mom, you look way good at all these parties! I have such a good looking family ha!

Dad, Congrats on all your stuff. What did you have to speak about at your party? You look amazing and good choice on the red tie! Very classy. Are you going to have some time off this week? Thanks for the letter. It made me cry a little.

Brynn, Thanks for the email. Sounds like you have a ton to do. I am glad that you are feeling better.

Chase and Ash, Ash I heard you were sick. I hope that you are feeling better. There is nothing worse then being sick over the holidays. How is it being back in Utah? How did your last weeks end up? Thanks for the email. I didn't mean to guilt trip you I just didn't know if I wasn't getting some of the letters! You guys are great!

So this week was a good week. We had a lot of meetings and it is pretty up beat. We did a lot and it was a lot of fun. Sorry if this is a pretty vague, I am kinda in a funky mood. I have been reading a bunch of emails about luggage and I started cleaning out and de-junking today and I think it was a big mistake.

This week we made some progress with Sister Liliya. She is a cute spunky old lady but she has some sass. She is really afraid to get baptized because she doesn't know how to swim and last time she tried to get baptized it was a little traumatic, so if you could keep her in your prayers that would be awesome.

We had a chance to go to the temple this week and it was amazing. I love the temple in general but this temple will hold a special place in my heart. There were some members from Russia and a ton of members from our wards and other wards that i have served in. I sat and watched as all of the members prayed and I had the amazing opportunity to feel the love of our Savior for them. It was great to walk in and be greeted by one of my favorite members and then as we walked up the stairs and saw more of my favorite members and then we walked in to the room and sat down and my favorite member was conducting the session. We were surrounded by the most amazing members and the feeling in the room was so amazing! I even listened to the whole session in Russian with out a problem! I had gotten a head set just in case I couldn't understand but I didn't even need it! It was amazing! They are really dedicated and I love seeing their love for the temple. They usually take a day for the temple not just a few hours like I used to. It has such a special place in their hearts and I hope that it has rubbed off onto me.

This next week will be very full. We are trying to meet with some of the members for the last time and some of my friends from around Kiev are coming in for lunch or something. It will be hard to fit it all in but it will be a full week. I am excited to see old friends, especially at the Christmas concert that they are putting on this next week and at the baptisms on Saturday. I will be able to see Natalie and Galina this week. Also there might be a chance of seeing Svetlanna and Lena. I don't know if you remember all of these people but I am excited to try and see them.

So I should probably get going. Sorry if this wasn't the email that you were all expecting this morning but I love you all and I am so excited to talk to/ see you! I will be waiting for you to call our cell phone around 6.00 p.m. our time. I think that is 9.00 a.m. your time. I hope you have a great week! I love you all! and Merry Christmas.

Sister Larsen

Happy Anniversary!

Hey everyone!

Thanks for all the emails! I am glad to hear that everyone is doing well! It sounds like you all are crazy busy getting ready for Christmas.

Mom and Dad, Happy Anniversary! You guys are an amazing example to all of us of a truly happy couple! I love hearing about all of the things that you do for each other and for the love that you have for each other and for us! Congrats on getting all the neighbor gifts out so fast! It sounds like you are on the ball with everything this year, and you even have a few days until Christmas! I am happy that you had fun on your trip and that you got home safely. Dad, when you put it in terms of weeks and then Sundays I realized that my time is so short! I hope I can hold on a little longer and get everything in I want to!

Brynn, I know what you mean. I keep thinking, Oh I can just tell them these stories when I get home. But thanks for the email. It is still nice to open my mail and get letters! I am excited to hear the song that you did! I imagine that it is amazing. I am always telling people about your amazing voice. It also sounds like you did an amazing Christmas party for the firm. You always do great things like that!

Chase and Ashley, Hey how are you guys?? I am sure that things have been crazy since October, but I am wondering if I didn't get an email from you because Mom said that you were giving me advice but I haven't gotten an email in a while. How is the end of school looking? Are you excited to get to Utah? Let me know how things are going!

Sooo this week was pretty good, but I am still hurting from the cancelling of English. Sister Schmidt and I have been really trying to put ourselves out there and talk to everyone- literally! We have set some pretty high goals of how many people we want to talk to each day and we have been pretty good at keeping them! We have seen some small miracles and we have met a lot more people who are genuinely interested in the Gospel and not just wanting to talk to us because we can speak okay English. I have really liked the fact that they have cancelled English. Brynn asked why I thought they did it and here is my answer. We were spending most of our time talking to people in English about stuff that doesn't even matter. We didn't come to Ukraine to just improve people's English but we are here to help them improve their lives. It goes a lot faster when we don't sit and talk in English about useless things but we can just talk about the Gospel and about Jesus Christ. It makes sense and I don't know why we didn't stop it earlier. It is great. We still help people from time to time when they ask but we try to keep it focused on Christ!

This week was really good. We worked hard and I got sick :D. The first time on my mission that my body has really caught up with me. It is cold and we have been outside a lot more the usual. Also being in the Metro and touching things also took a toll. But Sister Schmidt is really taking care of me and we are still getting out and doing the work. I don't want my body stopping me from doing the work my last 2 weeks. How bad would that be! But we are hanging in there, and having fun while we do it.

I dont know if you remember about the grandma that didn't fully get baptized a few months ago? Well she decided yesterday to give it another go. We are helping her get ready for the 25th of December! She seemed pretty excited and so did the members. They are an interesting family and really great! She has been coming to church for a really long time and it was great to see the excitment of some of the members. Just say a little prayer that it goes better this time. One of the missionaries is going to baptize her so I hope it will be a little smoother, I hope! There are around 30 baptisms that should be happening on the 25th around the mission and we are all getting really excited! The work is exploding here and President is amazing and keeping us excited even when it is cold. We are starting to change all of the negitive ideas about the mission and all of the missionaries are starting to believe that miracles are possible, even in Ukraine. I was thinking about the scriptures in Moroni about how miracles only cease when we cease to believe. It really is so true. I haven't seen miracles when I have doubting that things will happen but when I put my faith in the Lord, say a pray, and go to work I have seen the Lord work His miracles! I love this work! I love this country and the people here. But most of all I love my Father in Heaven, my Lord and my Family! This season truly is the season of happiness and a time to remember our Lord and Redeemer and all that he has done for us!

Thank you for your support and love! I hope that you have an amazing week and that you get everything done that you need too. I love you all so so much and miss you!

Love, Sister Larsen

Monday, December 6, 2010

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!"

Hey everyone.

Sorry my time is short to write so this might be a quicker email. I got your package and I may have opened it out of excitement! I didn't open everything but I was most excited for the letters and as I started to read I realized they were for Christmas morning so I stopped and put them away. I didn't finish opening or reading so I still have stuff for Christmas but I am way excited to wear the scarf! I might wear it before if that is okay.

Okay so I don't really have a lot of time to comment on each email but I loved them all and you are all amazing. And I got all the pictures! But I wanted to give you a run down of the week.

So Zhenya got baptized on Saturday!!!!!! She is amazing! She is only 14 years old and she made the decision to get baptized 3 weeks after her mom was baptized! Yesterday was my last and one of the greatest Fast and Testimony meetings. Bishop gave her the Holy Ghost and it was such an amazing prayer. He has been such a great friend to them and has been a really big help as they have started on this journey. So we kinda had a strange lead up to the baptism. We got a call on Friday night that Bishop may not have been able to come but we wouldn't know until we were already at the baptism so we called Sarah and her husband to see if he would be ready and willing if Bishop couldn't come. They were happy to help and they knew Zhenya because they had been on a lesson and Sarah helps out the youngest daughter in Primary. Well we got a call on Saturday morning and Sarah had gotten food poisoning and Denis couldn't leave her so we called the elders and had to send them home to get their clothes. Bishop called us on the way to the baptism and said that there was no way that he could make it and he called and apologized to Zhenya, wished her luck. It was cute to see that he didn't just call one of us to say he couldn't but he got a hold of her personally to tell her. Very nice. The baptism didn't go at all as planned but it went just how she needed it to be and just how the Lord wanted it to be. It was amazing and I loved it!

This last week we have been planning for the holidays in our wards. There will be an activity almost every night for about 2 weeks. I was really sad to know that the ward is having a party on the 29th and I will probably be with President that night and may not be able to go. I thought what a great last night it would be to spend it with a ward that has been like my family, Irina, Zhenya and all those that have touched my life here. I hope that there is a small chance that it will change or that I can go, even for a minute. It would be a great last night with the members. Enough of lasts, I almost started to cry and don't have any pills to blame it on.

This last week was rough in the way of lessons and finding new people. The mission just cancelled our English program and that is how I did a lot of our finding. Now I have to be more bold and out there. I can't just fall back on English. I thought, Oh I only have a few weeks left. Why can't I just keep doing things the way I have been doing them, they have worked so far. But then I realized that this way is a lot better and we have stopped using our time on English and starting doing what we are really here for. It is really hard and really pushing me but it is keeping it interesting and keeping my on my toes.

Well I should get going but I wanted to get your thoughts about the Christmas phone call. Do you want to call or do you just want to wait until the 30th? If you do want to call it will have to be later then the last few times. We have an activity at 3 and we won't be home until 6ish our time. If you could call around 6ish that would be the best, I think that would be 9:00 your time. I don't know if that will work with what Chase and Ashley have planned. Let me know.

Well I love you all so so so much and I hope you have the most amazing week. Tell everyone hi and that I love them!
Sister Larsen

Where has the time gone!!?????

Hey family!
It sounds like you had an amazing Thanksgiving! I am sad I missed it but it is the last one! I am glad that you got home safe! I was hoping that you all wouldn't tell me about this awful storm and then no one would say if you got home or not! I would have been pretty upset! But I am glad that you are home! Dad said something about telling about our favorite Christmas's and I was thinking of one this morning. I will always remember the Christmas night in the 7-11 and the pick up truck. ha I still get a laugh about mom's burrito. I am glad that you all had fun with Jeff and Jane's family! Tell them all hi for me!

Mom, I am happy that you have had a bit of a break though. You should take some time and just let everything out. I am jealous of your walk in the canyon! It sounds pretty amazing. I was reading through some of that book that you made for me and I added the quotes that I sent to you and I have to say you did a better job. I don't know how you knew that those quotes would be just what I needed in these last few months. Thank you for doing that. About the quilt stuff... the fabric here really isn't the best. I might bring a few scarfs home but I don't know if it will be enough. I don't know we can look.

Dad, I am glad that you are an amazing driver and that you all got home safe and sound! We get to see Sarah pretty often and her and her husband are always willing to come on lessons with all of us. They are pretty amazing! I swear it was not long ago that you asked me what my goals were for these last 3 months and each night I have tried to set some and now I just looked at the calendar and I have 4 weeks. I don't know what I am going to do. I am way excited to see you and get out of the cold but I love these people so much! I can't wait for you all to come here and see all this!

Brynn, I am so happy to get your letter! I am happy that things are going well! I am sure that you are starting to really get busy as the holidays are coming with parties and everything! It may not be a bad idea to change locations. It might even be fun just to move down town.

Chase and Ashley, I bet things are really getting tough as the semester is winding down. When do classes end for you? What are your plans for these next few weeks? How is the winter starting out up there? Are you freezing? I would love to see some pictures!

Alright, the snow is falling and we are starting a new transfer today! My last transfer!!!!! Crazy! I don't really know if I am happy or sad about it.. It just doesn't feel real yet, I guess. Time flies! But yeah I am still here in center and my trainee has left the nest and I am now with Sister Schmidt. I think you know her aunt, dad, She went to law school with you. Anyway she is way cool and I wish that we would be able to serve together more then just 5 weeks but hey. She is from Draper and we are very much the same person. We laugh all the time! She has only been out for 3 months but she is doing great. Oh yeah she speaks Ukrainian so that is a little hard but it makes things interesting! I am trying to learn Ukrainian a little better so that we can understand each other more. We are getting ready for a great transfer and we saw a great end to the last one.

On Saturday we went to the baptism of Ana and Sergy. They are the amazing couple that knocked on the church door 4 weeks ago. We had started teaching them but they moved to Sister Walker's area. But it was a great baptism and I am so so so happy for them. If my camera doesn't die I will send you a picture. They sang at their own baptism!!!! He sang the primary song that talks about how they like to look for rainbows. All of the missionaries are sitting here and we can only remember the name in Ukrainian so sorry. But it was absolutely amazing and everyone was crying! They were so amazing to work with, if you said "hey we don't drink coffee, tea, use tobacco, or drink Alcohol," they would go home that night and clean their house out and never touch it again. They also had planned a vacation the week before their baptism and the sisters said, "well we will have to push your baptisms back a week because you need to be at church." They cancelled their trip!!!! I have never seen that kind of dedication! It was amazing to watch! We gave them a Photo album to put pictures of their new lives and we all signed it! I love them so much and I can't wait until they have the opportunity to go to the temple!

I love this work so much and each day I have come home so tired. I am really feeling like I have ran a million miles everyday and it is finally catching up with me. I never thought that a mission would physically drain you in this way. I don't know if Chase or dad ever felt it but I feel like I want to do so much more and push to the end but I feel like I am trying to run in molasses! I just have to keep telling myself that the finish line is insight but then again each time I think that I have to go, I start to cry because I don't know when I will see these people again.

Well I and thankful for all of you! For your love and help! I miss you all so so so much! I hope that everything goes well this week and that you have an amazing, wonderful week! I love you all so much!

Sister Larsen

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Hey everyone!

Well, we are really feeling the spirit of Thanksgiving today. We are celebrating as a district so we have been getting ready all morning and our apartment smells almost as good as home. Thanks for all of the emails and the support! I am so thankful to have such an amazing family! You guys are amazing. I also got the last 2 packages and we gave the ring to Larisa and she loved it. she just sat and looked at it and we sat there quietly for a few minutes and she looked up and said, "Oh you guys and talk for a minute, I just want to enjoy this." We laughed so hard and she said to tell you thanks.

Mom, Good luck making food this week! I can't even imagine what it would be like to make all the food yourself! I am so happy that you got to spend some time with grandma and grandpa. They said that I would need to come down before I start school but I think we might need to find a weekend that we could go down because it would be good to see them. I will put his name in the temple here as well. That makes me so mad!!! Little kids are punks sometimes. You really didn't need to send me a Christmas box! But I am really excited for the letters and the poem! You are too good to me!

Dad, That makes me laugh about the new car! But I won't lie the Suburban was great for hauling stuff! I am glad that you are staying busy. How was your trip this past week? Did you get any down time?

Brynn, How was life this past week? Mom said you guys got to go up to Logan. How was seeing everyone? Wait how was Chicago?? Did you find any good job opportunities?

Chase and Ashley, Mom and Dad passed on that they got to talk to you and that everything is going well. I hope that your Anatomy test goes well today and that you didn't stay up all night cramming like I would have. How are things going? What are you going to do for Thanksgiving?

Alright, well I feel bad that you guys already have snow. I have no idea what is going on here. We are still wearing our fall coats and opening the windows at the church. It isn't super warm but there is no ice or snow yet. I might be speaking too soon though. I keep hearing that this week is going to be cold. But I have heard that every week for a month.

We met a couple here from America that is heading back in a week or two, Dad, I think you and Craig should get together and play some golf. They have been so good to us. They have lived here for 7 years and they are just moving back to the states. They went and bought us a bunch of American food for Thanksgiving and I feel like I owe them so much! They even got us a turkey! We are cooking all of the food today and celebrating with our district.

Well I had my last interview with President and time is really starting to wind down. We have transfers this week and I am loosing my baby!! ha Sister Zenger is moving on to bigger and better things! I know she will do amazing, I have had so much fun serving with her and we were kinda thinking we might go 3 transfers but it is about 95% sure that she is leaving and I will be getting a companion that is learning Ukrainian, poor girl! But I can't explain how happy I am that I will be staying here! I love these wards so much and the members are amazing! I also wanted to stay with Irina and her family! By the way, her daughter zhenya is getting baptized on Saturday!!! I don't know if I told you that last week! She decided that she wanted to follow the example of her mother! She saw how her mom and already started to receive the blessings that we had been promising her and she wants those same things for her family. They are also getting ready to go and do baptisms for the dead soon! I love seeing them and each time we meet I feel like I am a part of their family. So this week we will be busy getting ready for that and transfers. I think that Sister Zenger will still be able to come down and she her baptism. I don't think she will go too far.

We were also able to go to another baptism on Saturday. I don't know if I told you about this family but they are amazing. Here is a quick story about them. So I met them at the temple open house and I was able to sit and talk with them for about an hour and a half about everything they saw and were feeling. As we were talking we became pretty good friends and they invited us over to come and have a lesson with them. Well of course they didn't live in our area so we had to pass them, but we made a strange connection in the short time. I was able to go to their baptism on Saturday and see a family of 4 enter the waters of Baptism and make a covenant with the Lord! They were so so so happy and I was so happy to see them. I didn't think they would remember me but I went up to congratulate them after and they gave me a huge hug! They remembered me! I know that isn't the important thing but I just wanted to hear what had happened and what made them finally decided to get baptized. They have been searching for 12 years!!!! 12 Years!! and they finally found the truth. They have made goals to go to the temple and they have started on the path. They have received testimonies and I know that they will be strong and happy the rest of their lives and they will have the opportunity to live together for the rest of eternity! Oh man it was amazing! The spirit was so strong! That is what this work is all about! Bringing families together forever!

We are still working with our other Irina and she is hoping to finish the Book of Mormon this week or next week so that she can get baptized in 3 or 4 weeks. She is so ready, she just wants to finish the Book of Mormon before she makes the next step. We have watched her changed her life. She was an amazing person before but she has gained strength and has left her habits behind her and how is free to live as she wants. She has no restraints on her.

I love these people and I love this work. I am so thankful that I could have the opportunity to come here and be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I am thankful for this Gospel, for the knowledge that Christ lived and died for us but He also was resurrected in order to bring us back to our Heavenly Father! I am thankful for the loving guidance of my Savior. I am thankful for my amazing family and for the examples that they have been for me! I am thankful for my parents and the love that they have shown me, for my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that have always supported me and been there for me! I have the greatest family in the World! I am thankful for a Prophet of the Lord to guide us. I am thankful that I have the strength to do what I need to do and what I want to do. I am thankful that I have today to make the changes that I need to in order to become a better person!

I love you all so much and I hope that you have a great week, and a great Thanksgiving.

Sister Larsen