Monday, October 26, 2009

A long but fast week

Hey family!

So this week has flown by and we are running a little late so this letter might be a little shorter then the rest. We have had very long week but the time seems to be going faster. We haven't been able to meet with Svetlana this week. It has been really frustrating to try and meet with her. After we gave her the baptismal date for the 7th she has had a lot of problems. Her husband doesn't really approve and a lot of things have gone wrong. We are really hoping that she will meet with us this week so we can try and help her a little more.

So to answer some of your questions, every P-day is different. Last week we went shopping so that I could buy a coat, boots, and gloves. I bought an amazing coat! Everyone here wears the most beautiful coats... I wouldn't say mine is beautiful because they are also really expensive. Mine is a big down black comforter with fur on the hood!!! We aren't allowed to wear the fur hats but I will forsure buy one before I go home! Everyone wears them though! Everyone wears big leather or fur coats it is awesome. It is just what you would expect from Ukraine!

Last week was freezing, I thought that my fingers were going to fall off one of the nights but this week it has warmed up a lot. It is really hard to judge how the weather is going to be because in the morning the whole area is usually covered in fog and in the afternoons and in the busses it gets really toasty. But again at night it gets really cold! Some of the members are saying that it is supposed to be one of the coldest winters here.. Just my luck right. Oh and they just turned on our heat this week! It was really cold in our apartment this last week!

All weekend we have been in the city center. We had stake conference and they rented out a big theater to hold all of the members. It was a lot of fun. One of our investigators took us around a little of the city after to show us some of the history it was fun. We went back today with Sister Clark and Sister Larsen and saw a few of the big churches. It was a lot of fun! Our area is mostly outside of the main downtown area. We are in Borshahevski. It is actually a little ghetto area, but I love it! The members are really amazing! A lot of them invite us over to give them lessons and a lot of them are amazing at missionary work. They will let us come over and teach complete strangers at their apartments! They will usually feed us supper and tea or a treat when we teach with them. They love having us over and are really supportive. Each week they will come and talk with our investigators at church and testify to them of how being baptised has changed their lives and the lives of their family. All of them are converts so they are so amazing to work with!

Our area is also really big. We are assigned to one ward but we work in the whole area because the elders will give us the single women that they are teaching.Our district is also pretty amazing. We work with the Office elders, the Assistants and our district leader and his trainee. They are all really fun and we love doing stuff all together. Each of them adds so much to the area and they are all really hard workers. Our district leader is amazing and so funny! He remembers everything, every little detail about everything and everyone! I wish I had that talent! We also teach a lot with the Assistants because they have given us a lot of the people that they have started teaching or that they find. It is a lot of fun and I learn a lot from them.Also my area is very mixed when it comes to the languages. Almost everyone speaks both Ukrainian and Russian but they have one that they like to speak better then the other. We are teaching a couple where they husband speaks Russian and the Wife answers in Ukrainian but they understand each other. When they realize that I only speak Russian they will speak in Russian so I can understand a little. I think in the city you have to know both, but all of the schools and government function in Ukrainian.

I don't really know what our address is at our apartment. We never write it so I will have to get that to you next week. The Mission Office moved right before I got here so the address that is on the letters that I have sent is the new address. And I have thought a little about Christmas stuff, I was wondering if ...... Thanks!

Well I have to run but I love you and hope that all is well. Sorry if this letter is a little scattered. I hope I got a lot of your questions answered! I love you and hope you have a good week. Good luck with all of the electronics I hope that you can get it all figured out soon.

Sister Larsen

Publisher's note: Some readers have asked about emailing Brooke. I am not aware of any prohibition against it, so if you want to email her please do. Her address is shown at the top of the blog. Thanks for thinking about Brooke and including her in your prayers. Mike

Tweed, leather and fur and it's only October

Hey everyone!

It sounds like everyone is having an amazing week. Boys I am sure that you are having a blast just please don't shoot each other or at least don't shoot my dog. Also I am sure that Terry is sitting in the back spitting on Ty and Grant's backs.

Thanks for the letters! Mom, of course you are getting a million things done. Thanks for the email. I remember you telling me that story before but I loved hearing it again. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me here. I will always start teaching and then in the middle of the part that I am teaching I will just look at Sister Movchanyuk and smile.

Dad, ....!

Penny, ......

Chase, ....

Ashley, ....!

So I have made it through my second full week here and my 3rd full month on a mission. It has been a hard but amazing week. The beginning of the week was really hard. Everyone was cancelling their appointments and I felt like we weren't really teaching a lot. Also the people that we were able to teach aren't really progressing and I think they just want to learn english. We had a lesson with Natasha, we taught her about the importance of coming to church and about the sacrament. She said that she would really try and we even offered to pick her up on our way. We also taught Vika again. Thankfully we were able to teach her at the same members house because the other member that we set the appointment up with cancelled on us 15 minutes before! We had a really great lesson. She said that she really wants to believe that it is true but she just doesn't believe that we can have these great amazing blessings. One night we had a lesson with Sasha. She is a woman that we met on the street that wanted to learn English. As we started teaching her she pulled out an Icon and tried to have us translate it and read the prayer that was on the back. We started to teach her about what we believe and she wouldn't let us talk. Finally when the lesson was over we got up to leave and I turned back to turn off the lights and she had placed the Icon of Mary in the corner of one of the pictures of Christ, it made me laugh. We then went to talk to the assistants to get some clothes that the elders had left in the office and Sasha walked in and tried to give an Icon to one of the elders, He told her that it would be really offensive and she stormed out of the church. The whole way home we were extremely jumpy because we thought that she would pop out of the corner. Sister Movchanyuk turned to me and said "something good has to be coming." And the next day something amazing happened.We met with Cvetlana, she is a referral from a member. She has been coming to church for several weeks but she hasn't wanted to meet with the missionaries. She finally agreed to meet with us but her husband wouldn't come. We met with her and sister Luba. We watched a talked from general conference and then we read a few scriptures and talked about repentance. Sister Movchanyuk showed her a scripture on baptism and she started crying and said that she wanted that (that was the only part that I really understood). After a few minutes of talking Sister Movchanyuk pulled out a calendar and we set a date for Cvetlana:D. My heart jumped, and I started crying, she was crying and Sister Luba was crying. I haven't been that happy in a really long time. She has really started taking steps to change her life and we are so excited for her and her family. She knows that it will be hard and that her life will not just all of a sudden be easy but she sees the big picture. This has made all of the preparation and all of the no's worth it. To see one person begin to change her life so that she and her family can be happy. It was a great week.

So about Sister Movchanyuk. She is from Harkov, Ukraine. She has lived in Italy with her mom for the last 5 years and she speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Italian and English! Russian is her native language but she speaks atleast 3 of them almost perfect. She is really short but she is the fastest walker I have ever met in my life! I feel like I am constantly out of breath and running to keep up with her. She is really nice and we get a long. We sing as we walk around the city from one place to another. Last night she was really mean to me! We went to visit Lena and we were on our way home for the night. We were sitting on the Marchuteka and I was closest to the window. She stood up and let a really really really smelly man sit next to me trapping me in the seat. Then the man infront of me closed the window and I was dying. I really don't think that I have ever smelled anything so bad in my life. I was trying really hard not to gag. After 2 stops it was so bad that sister Movchanyuk decided it was enough and we got off the Marchuteka 4 or 5 stops early and waited for another bus. We both put handsanitizer on our hands and sat and smelled them until our lungs felt like they had cleared out a little. We laughed all night about it. Well we should get going but I love you all and hope that all is well at home.

Give my Skin (Dakota) a berry berry big hug and a kiss! I hope you all have an amazing week! Thank for the letter and pictures I will look for them!Love, Cecmpa Larsen

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Full Week--Lots to Learn

Hey family that I love!

I hope you all have had an amazing week! Thank you for the emails everyone, it is so good to hear from you, and to hear how everyone is doing!

To answer some of your questions: for transportation we either walk or we take these little buses called marshutekas. They are either small public buses or they are white creeper vans that they have put bus seats in. Everyone piles into these. I am just getting the hang of being able to stay standing in these things. The first few days I could barely keep my balance. We eat lunch at home or we take it with us to the church, it is usually rice, noodles, buckwheat, or eggs and vegis and Bread, there is always bread. It is actually not too bad.

My companion is actually a really good cook and she was wondering if you could send a few recipes? Maybe swedish pancakes, and some easy soups?

Mom congrats on the marathon! Everytime I tell someone that you run marathons they are amazed! It really is an amazing accomplishment to do just one let alone many! Wow! .......

Dad, ....... Hunting should be a lot of fun and I sure that both Kota and beverage boy are looking forward to it. .......Tell everyone that I say Hey!

Brynn, ..........

Chase and Ashley, .............

So this has been my first full week. I have learned a lot. One of the most important lessons that I learned is that if there is standing water on the ground it is probably not rain water or water from a broken sprinkler. Don't Step In It.. bad idea. haha. Thank goodness I didn't learn this through my own mistakes. I have been avoiding all of the puddles for obvious reasons-- I don't want my shoes to be soaked all day-- but last night I saw a man just peeing on the side of the road. ha lesson learned.

I have had a lot of ups and downs this week. Conference was an amazing up that I am still hanging on to. We have listened to Elder Holland's talk twice already. I love how powerfully he speaks. I want to testify like he does. I can say that I know that Christ lives and that the Book of Mormon is true but the way that he testifies just pierced my soul. There were a lot of amazing talks, but I haven't heard all of them yet. On Saturday we listened to the first hour on a cd that we have of conference in English but then we went to the church and the whole first session was in Russian, I could understand a few words here and there but really I didn't get anything. We then taught a mother and her daughter and they stayed for part of the second session. One of the Elders in our ward had printed off the talks already so he let me read them as they were given. Sunday I was a little smarter and I brought Sister Movchanyoks Dvd player and listened to them in English as everyone else watched it in Ukranian.

We also taught Vika this week. She is someone we found through English classes and we taught her the second lesson on the plan of salvation. We taught her at an amazing member's house. They all sat and participated in both the English lesson and the gospel lesson. I taught my part and by the end I was really frustrated that I couldn't understand anything at all. I thought that the lesson had gone terribly wrong and that we probably wouldn't teach her again. When we left Sister Movchanyok said that it was an amazing lesson! I started crying out of frustration but now I just have to laugh because I had gotten myself all worked up for nothing. That is how a lot of my day goes. I will introduce myself on a bus and they will start talking so I will motion for Sister Movchanyok to come over. She will talk to them for a minute and get their number and I will be so excited and then when we get off the bus she will say that they weren't interested at all. It is really funny, sometimes I feel like a silly dog that gets all excited to go in the car when in reality she is going to the vet. ha.

We spend a lot of our day tracking or teaching. For tracking during the day we will hand out private English fliers and try to talk to people in the park. We get shut down a lot more then we teach when we are tracking. In the evenings, before or after appointments we will knock on the doors in the apartment buildings. This is the most terrifying thing because the hallways in the apartment buildings are not very well lit and they are old with spray paint and then you are waiting for someone to answer the door. They are usually these little nice baboshkas (grandmothers). Most of the new investigators that we have found have been through English classes and through the Area book.

This area has just been opened for the sisters so we have taken a lot of the contacts from the elders' area book and we have been working on finding them. Last night we went to an address and it was a lot of fun. It was the older couple and they are amazing! They welcomed us in and gave us slippers. They had a lot of questions since they were last taught by the missionaries and we talked a lot about families and the temple. I am excited to teach them again this week.

We have a lot of investigators right now but none of them are progressing really fast. Valentina is a woman that has a baptismal date for next weekend but she in so busy that she hasn't been able to meet with us. She is also really hard to teach. She is very much stuck in her ways from the Provaslavian church (Everyone here belongs to the Provaslavian Church, it is really frustrating). We are really hoping to help her progress this week. She came to all of conference yesterday and loved it.

So there is a tradition here that I have had to just tell myself to suck it up. You all know how much I love feet! Well the tradition is that when you enter a home you remove your shoes promptly and normally they will give you a pair of slippers to wear while you are in their home. It really is a sweet gesture but oh man the first few days I struggled to keep my mind on the conversations and not on my feet, which is really hard since I don't understand anything that is being said anyway. ha

Well I love you all and hope that you are having an amazing week! Good luck with everything this week!

Cecmpa Larsen

Monday, October 5, 2009

First letter from Kiev!

Hello my family!

It was so good to talk to you all this last week. It sounds like you are all doing amazing! I hope that everyone enjoyed their conference weekend and I hope that the race went well!

Mom that is funny that you talked about a first for me this last weekend because yesterday I went through and listed all of my firsts that I had just yesterday. We left the MTC on Tuesday and we arrived in Kiev on Wednesday! The entire flight to Vienna I spent talking to a woman named Elizabeth. She is from Vienna and she had been living in the states. I started out talking to her about the church and why I was going to Kiev. I asked her about her own religion and after awhile she told me that she was Buddist. I went silent and that was the longest minute ever as I sat thinking "oh, man they did not tell me what to do in this situation." We talked for a little about religion and then we just talked about life in general. I just decided to get her with kindness. As we started to get off the plane I offered her a Book of Mormon and just asked her to read it and see how she felt. This was the first time I got rejected. But she was really nice about it. We exchanged emails and she hugged me goodbye. I had to say goodbye to Sister Burke in Vienna which was really hard but also exciting knowing that there were a lot of new things to come. Our flight was delayed in Vienna and we were all so tired that we could barely hold our eyes open. But we did get to talk to some people and somehow everyone we talked to didn't believe in God and that made it really hard. Let's just say we got rejected a lot :D.

When we got off the plane in Kiev it was really cold. The wind here is amazingly cold. We got our luggage and mine had been broken, the handle at the top was broken off. But an elder from Armaina found his bag sliced open and torn apart. They had put all of his sand covered clothing in a plastic bag. I felt really bad for him.

President Steinagel and the APs picked us up and took us around the city. They took us to place in Kiev where Ukraine was decicated and opened to the church, and he read the dedication prayer. The APs then walked with us around the city center and we took the metro back to where the van would pick us up. We went to President Steinagel's home (which looks a lot like the homes in Salt Lake) and they made us dinner. We talked for a little and all of us were going cross-eyed trying to keep our eyes open.

Thursday we walked to the new temple being built, and it is so amazing to see it in person. We met our companions at the chapel right next to the temple. Sister мовчанюк is my companion. I don't know how to spell it in English letters. She is originally from Ukraine but has been living in Italy for the last several years. We work in the temple area so we get to walk to the temple every day. She is amazing; she is a hard worker and she is an amazing cook! That first night we taught English class and our first lesson. I didn't understand one word once English class was over. But I did get to testify about the Book of Mormon, I hope she understood anything that I said. Friday and Saturday we spent teaching English classes and a few lessons. The APs took us to two lessons that they are giving to us because they are mostly girls. We are teaching four girls English and we are going to teach them the first lesson this week. They have also been working with юля and her family. She is really hesitant because she had been meeting with the JWs and she didn't like some of the things that they were teaching and she thinks that there are a lot of similarities between the two churches. We are teaching her this week as well and I hope that we can pray with her so that she can feel the difference.

Yesterday we meet a lot of the members and they are amazing. They are almost all converts except for a lot of the little kids. There are not a ton of full families and most of the families are part member or only member families. We had fast Sunday because we watch general conference next weekend. I am really excited to watch it and to see валентина's reaction to it. We are really trying to work with the members and their families to bring the rest of their family and their friends to church.

Well I should probably get going. I love you all and I hope that all is well with you! Oh, by the way, President Steinagel said that the best way to send mail is to get a US postal service box and to send it through regular mail. When you write the description on it be honest but really vague and general in your descriptions, like "personal items" or "used clothes" something like that and that takes about a week to 2 weeks. Well I love you and miss you a lot! I hope you all have an amazing week!

сестра ларсен
Sister Brooke Larsen
я люблю теба

p.s. I ate Borche for the first time yesterday and man it was amazing! I don't think I will do too badly here after all :D. Also, Chase, you might be a little jealous but there are Mercedes and Bentlys everywhere... I don't know where they get the money but maybe they are all mobsters. I will try and get a picture with one soon and send it with to you:D

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brooke's Arrival in Kiev!!!!

Greetings from Kyiv Ukraine! As you know, Sister Larsen arrived here safe and sound. We have attached a picture of her standing with us, as well as with her group in front of the Kyiv Temple which is under construction.

We have had orientation and soon the missionaries will be off to their areas of assignment. Sister Larsen's new companion is Sister Movchanyuk, an experienced and cheerful missionary who has a strong testimony. The will be serving in Borschahivsky which is in the outskirts of Kyiv.

There is a letter from your missionary on its way to you; however, it may not reach you for about two weeks.

We are certainly happy to have Sister Larsen in our mission!


President Lane O. and Sister Jennefer Steinagel