Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving into December!!!

Hey family!!

Dad, Thank you for not falling off the roof completely!! I would have been very upset with you! I am very upset with you for playing bball!! I swear you weren't supposed to be doing that anymore?! Be careful!

Mom, I am glad to hear that you are busy as ever, and that someone will make you rest for a few weeks! I am excited to hear about your trip after you get back.

Brynn, Congrats on all of your feats this last week! I have been telling stories about the two of us together and have been thinking about you a lot, especially today. I was thinking about our drive back from Vegas after the Alicia Keys concert and singing Wicked as loud as possible to stay awake. We have had a lot of fun these last few years. I think Ben would really like the gift you suggested! Tell him Hi and congrats to both of you for 1 year!

Chase and Ashley, It is good to hear that you two are having fun and that everything is going well. Pass on a congrats to Gordy and Allen and their wives. That is nuts!!! I can't believe that they are pregers ha. Thanks for the details on the game too! I have been dying since Friday to know what happened. I have to confess that yesterday in church my mind started to wander because the teacher was speaking in only Ukrainian and I couldn't understand a thing.

It was so good to hear from all of you this morning!! I am so happy that you all had an amazing Thanksgiving, even though some things weren't the same as we are used to. We have been talking a lot about Thanksgiving this last week in both our English lessons and with our investigators. I am always reminded that I need to be more thankful every day. I have been blessed with so much and I really need to remember that. We also talked a lot about Football because nothing goes better with Thanksgiving than family, pie and Football!! For Thanksgiving Day we got together with our district and had a very large lunch! We had a lot of pie to top it all off, but it wasn't as good as at home with mom's homemade rolls.

Other than that our week has been filled with work. We found a few new investigators who are going to be really fun to work with and who seem to really interested in knowing truth. We have been struggling with one of our main investigators this week. She is scared to come to church because she thinks she will have to change everything about her life, even not being able to exercise. We might have to drop her next week and focus on those who are keeping their commitments. That will be really hard. I don't want to just leave her but she is not really making much of an effort anymore. We will see what happens.


So more about life here. Our apartment is actually really nice inside, it was just remodeled and it has kind of an Asian feel to the inside. I sent pictures of it. Most of the apartments here are really, really small. One, maybe two rooms and a kitchen. I realized about 2 weeks after being here that every couch or chair that we sit on usually turns into their beds. I am amazed how they fit more than one family into one apartment. We are really blessed with our apartments here.

Also my companion and I get along really well. We have a lot of fun together and we teach well together. Mostly she teaches and I teach a little part or testify with everything that I have. She helps me a lot with the language and we try and speak only Russian when we are on the streets, at night when we are going home I get really lazy. The Language is coming. I am able to say a lot more then I could when I got here and I know a lot of it is because the Lord is really helping me. I am still struggling with a lot of the vocab because there is so much to learn in so little time. I am understanding more everyday and I find myself being able to know when someone is speaking to me in Russian or Ukrainian which helps a lot, because it happens a lot. I am also learning a few words in Ukrainian here and there. Here people tend to mix the two languages so it is good to know both. I am not trying to learn Ukrainian yet!!!! I am understanding a lot more of what I read which is really nice because then I can know what they are talking about in a lesson if I get lost. I am still carrying around both of my scriptures so when I am really lost I resort to my English set. I know that eventually I will be able to function as a normal person here but it will take time.

Well I should get going! I love you all and thanks for the emails and updates! I hope all is well! Have an amazing week!

Sister Larsen

Monday, November 23, 2009


Hello family!

Thank you for all of your emails and support! It was a very, very long week but we are pushing forward hoping for a second wind.

Dad, Thanks for taking care of everything for me with this money stuff. . . . I am glad that you are finding a little down time to spend with mom and Kota. Sorry you had to jump into hypothermia water to save the boat and my dog. I remember Chase doing that once—ha ha.

Mom--always busy. I am sorry to hear that you were released yesterday! You were the best Presidency ever! You were always so much fun and you made Young Womens that much better. You really gave it your all and I know that the girls really do appreciate all of your time and love that you put into your calling. I know that whatever comes next you will do the same, and go the extra mile, because that is how you are. I am excited for your trip with Dad, you both deserve a break after all of the events and work that you have had lately.

Brynn . . . . I am glad to hear that all is well in your world. How did your crazy week go last week? Did everyone love the boxing matches and names? How is your new roommate?

Chase and Ashley, I loved hearing about your cousin campout! It looked like a lot of fun and it reminded me of when Al and Derrick used to have all of us over. It sounds like you had a lot of fun but are pretty worn out. I can just imagine all of them. Chase good luck this week with your interview I hope everything goes well.

So updates for this week. Quarantine is finally over!!! I guess that this happens almost every year because everyone gets some kind of flu so the schools just pile on the homework for the kids to do through the 3 weeks that the schools are closed.

We have had an eventful week but it seemed like it was a never ending week. The mission has had a big push to get new investigators and baptismal dates so that we can hit our goal of 100 baptisms over 6 months by New Years. The mission is exploding with work. One companionship received 5 dates last week. They as a companionship have more standing dates than some zones. It is crazy how the faith of the Lord's servants can lead them to where they need to be. We had a harder week in our area but we are hoping that our work will pay off this week. We have so many people that we are teaching that you can just see how close they are. Their minds are really thinking about the things that they are learning and reading about but they just need that last push, or that first step of faith in the dark to reach the light.

Lena is an investigator who I think I have told you a little about. She is so close and she knows that Joseph was a prophet; she knows that the Book of Mormon is true but she doesn't know if she wants to make the commitment of baptism. She had an idea this last week of making borsht together at the church. We invited 2 or 3 members to come and join us. As we started making borsht members just kept coming to the church. We ended up with about 15 people including kids. The members shared conversion stories and how they decided to be baptized. It was really awesome. We called it our super Member present lesson. Lena, I think, felt a little awkward at first but then she really warmed up to the members. It was really cool! One of the members, Sister Lyba, started teaching her about the importance of the Sabbath day and keeping it holy. I tried to give her my name tag afterwards because she is a better missionary then I am.

Now to explain the title of this email... later in the week, we visited a mother and daughter whom we have been teaching English. We have wanted to try and teach them more about the gospel. We were talking with the daughter and she offered us what looked like shredded cheese... Definitely wasn't... Yep, it was squid! Dried Squid!! And I ate it!! TWICE!!! She kept offering it to me and I couldn't say no, I didn't know what to do so I ate it again. I had to buy food after so that I could try and get the chewy gross taste out of my mouth. We met up with the assistants after, because they were helping us with a lesson, and they said that they all love it! It was gross! Brynn I know that you would take my side on this! It was especially bad because I was expecting cheese not fish. haha Sister Movchanyuk and the Elders were laughing so hard at me because I wanted to get the taste out of my mouth so bad.

The lesson we had with them afterwards was actually really good but really draining. The elders helped so much and I am so happy they stayed for the lesson. They really know how to teach by the spirit and testify of the spirit. I think that what they said had a huge impact on our investigator and I think that she might be ready to really accept a date after being asked 4 times to be baptized. She said that she has a plan and I think that she wants to be baptized before Christmas, which would be awesome.

Alright, well, I am just rambling now. And we have to go because we are giving up our pday today so that we can have a Thanksgiving lunch with our district and then go to a museum on Thursday :D. But, I love you all and I hope that everything is good and well. By the way, we still don't have snow:D and I am not freezing yet! This is a good sign for me and for the Temple. As long as the weather stays good they can keep working on the outside and they are really close to having the windows in and the rock on the outside! It is so exciting. Oh and they have started to plant trees! So cool. I will send you pictures next week! And I will try and send a Christmas letter/pictures today or Thursday--Don't open it until Christmas because it is all I can send!

Have an amazing Thanksgiving! Tell everyone that I say hi, and cut down a pretty Christmas tree:D. And I want to hear all about it! Love you all!

Have a good week and know that I love you!

Sister Larsen

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cold Water Doesn't Dampen Baptismal Spirits!

Hey everyone!

I finally got my pictures last tuesday! thank you thank you!!! I think it just takes a really really long time. :D And Dad all of the rest of the Atm transactions were mine. I used all of that money to buy a coat, boots, gloves, hat, and things that I needed for winter.

Dad, it is good to hear that you are home and congrats on winning your trial!! .........

Mom, I don't know how you do it all! I would be tired after just one of your projects. They should send you over here and help out with the work! I am sure that we would reach all of our goals if you were over here! I am glad to hear that Neil's funeral was nice, that is still just so sad!

Brynn, good luck this week with the United Way Campaign at the firm! Weren't you in charge of it last year too? They just can't get enough of your work! I love the boxing idea and the names, you and Chase know how to give the best nicknames! And hey now you get to show off your amazing boxing skills to all of the lawyers. Maybe they will be afraid of you after you knock someone out!

Chase and Ashley, Hey I think that you have some interviews coming up either this week or next week so I wanted to wish you good luck!! I hope that everything goes as you want it and that you travel safe. I hope that school and work are going well and that you are getting a chance to go to some of the games every now and then.

So the good news of the week is that Svetlana was baptised on Saturday!! And it ended up as an amazing day with a very bumpy start. We woke up and got ready really fast and headed over to the church to start filling the font and getting everything ready. When we left I had a feeling that I was forgetting something and that something wasn't going to go the way I wanted. We got there 30 mins after we had wanted to so we ran and started filling the font so it would be full by the time that the baptism started. We went to the kitchen and started getting the programs ready and cleaning the kitchen. We went back to check the water temp. and then ran to the store to buy cookies. We got back after the water had been running for an hour and a half and went to set up chairs in the baptismal room. We opened the font and there was still only 3 inches of water in the bottom. We had forgotten to close the drain!!! It was Sister Movchanyuk's first baptism here too and we didn't know how to work the font. We started filling buckets and dumping them into the font. The water was freezing because we had let all of the hot water drain out. We went back to the kitchen and started boiling the biggest pot of water I have ever seen. Two companionships of elders showed up an hour before the baptism to practice a musical number that we wanted to do but instead they started helping us fill buckets from the custodial closet and cleaning the water with a giant ladel because some sticks had gotten in the water from out buckets and shoes. Thirty minutes until the start and the elders were still carryin water and we greeted Svetlana with a smile. She laughed and didn't mind that the water was freezing she was just happy to be there. The Baptism started with the font almost full. After the talk and as everyone was walking into the room the Elder dumped the pot of boiling water into the font. Everyone laughed and Svetlana walked into the font with slight nerves. She was smiling the whole time and we turned and waved to her husband. She was baptised and as she walked up the stairs she turned and looked at everyone smiling at her. She found me and sister Movchanyuk and gave us a huge smile. She brought her whole family and two friends to the baptism. The members didn't let the friends leave until they had a Book of Mormon and every pamplet that they church has printed in Russian. It was an amazing day!

The rest of the week was good too. We had Zone Conference and President talked about pushing through and playing hard through the fourth quarter. Three transfers ago the mission set a goal of 100 baptisms before the end of the year. The numbers for baptisms in a 6 month period have been going down for the last 10ish years and we didn't just want to break the trend we wanted to double it. We are now in the fourth quarter of this goal with only half of our baptisms that we need. They showed a highlight clip from the Holiday bowl where BYU came back from a 45-25 game against SMU. It really got us all so pumped to reach our goal. And man that was an amazing comeback!

Afterwards Sister Steinagel made us a Thanksgiving dinner with stuffing and lots of pie! It was nice and reminded me of Thanksgiving at home! I can't believe it is already that time of year. We haven't had any snow yet but it is just a little colder than cold. I think I am starting to get used to it a little more. Ukraine is still under quarentine for another week but I think it has calmed down a little. People are still wearing masks and won't really talk to us on the buses but it is getting better slowly.

Well I love you all and I hope you have an amazing, relaxing week! Good luck with everything this week and I hope that everything goes well! Tell everyone that I say hi, and Chase if you see Liz Lambert will you tell her happy birthday for me. I haven't had a chance to get her a letter out yet but I want her to know that I didn't forget.

Love you!
Sister Larsen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I made it through transfer 1 untouched!

Hey everyone!

I made it through my first transfer and we will be staying here together.

It was good to hear from all of you! I am so sorry to hear about Mary's husband! Please send my love when you see their family! I can't even imagine how hard that would be for them.

Dad, thanks for everything and for watching out for me! I kinda saw it coming actually. I had a feeling 2 weeks ago that is why I asked if you could send me updates on how much was in my account each week. I was nervous to check on these computers here because I didn't know how secure they were so I had no idea what was going on. But I am glad that your trial is going well and that you are enjoying it! Hopefully you will be able to go home soon and see mom and skin. :D (Editor's note: Ukraine is notorious for stealing credit card numbers and selling them on the black market. Brooke's was obtained somehow by these crooks and soon people around the globe were depleting her checking account!)

Mom, I am proud of you for hitting your PR eventhough I don't really know what that means ha. good job! I tell people all the time about your crazy running group and how amazing you are to run so many marathons! I hope that things are going better in the technology department and that you are figuring things out.

Brynn, Thanks for the email! I always love reading your rambles it makes me remember all of the times that we chatted on facebook while I was supposed to be doing school stuff. I miss our little chats a lot! ...........

Chase and Ashley, So I was listening to Elder Bednar's talk from this last conference with a member and his parents that we just started teaching and it made me think for the times that we used to read scriptures together as a family and you would put your finger really close to my face and say "I'm not touching you." It made me laugh as we were listening and I had to explain to the parents that is how we were. How is everything going with you two? How are your church callings and the end of school coming? Keep me updated. ............

So it has been another amazing week! Svetlana was not baptised on Saturday but she is having her interview with President this Wednesday and things are looking good. She finally met with us after not wanting to meet for a week and things weren't really looking the best. She and her husband weren't talking she was struggling with her health and things just seemed to keep coming up. We were nervous that her husband wouldn't give his permission for her to be baptised. Well last week we were in a lesson and a member called with some great news. When we called her back she said that Svetlana had a really bad day and was just feeling so lonely. She was crying and knelt down and prayed that Heavenly Father would soften her husband's heart and that he would talk to her. She called him and told him how much she missed him and loved him and then she just waited, after a few minutes of silence he said that he missed her too! They made up and she told him that she wanted to be baptised. He said that he was really happy for her but he wasn't ready yet. They watched the Restoration together this last week and he is helping her to prepare for Saturday! She said that she has seen the Lord blessing her life already! Her health has improved and she is really happy. I can't wait for Saturday!

We are working with some amazing people. I don't know if I told you about Nelya and Anatoli.. They are an older couple that we found in the area book. They are awesome. She really wants to be baptised so we are working with the husband mostly. The first time we were there he didn't really want to talk to us but each time he opens up a little more. This last week when we arrived he had a huge smile on his face and he ran to get his Book of Mormon and place it next to his chair. He was ready with questions to ask us and I think he really enjoyed reading, they even asked for another homework assignment. He really wants to meet you, Dad. They said that they want to meet all of you and they invited us all back to their house when we come back! They are awesome! I can't wait for you to meet them.

I am trying to think of other things that happened this week. It is really cold! Everyone has started wearing their fur coats and fur hats! I really didn't think that people wore them but they do! And they always match perfectly! They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here and Christmas is in January along with a really really long New years! They get 2-3 weeks off of work!!! And we have to go in early because it gets a little crazy at night during the New year holiday. The swine flu is still here and everyone is still sick. We are feeling fine. We have been going to bed a few mins early to try and fight off anything that might come our way. The schools are still closed and church has only been an hour. It is hard to get some people to meet with us and do things with us because everyone is terrified. One of the members said something smart the other day though. She said that we can't just lock ourselves us and sit in a room. We need to take steps to protect ourselves and be comforted in the knowledge that if we do our part the Lord will help us to do our work on the earth and when we are done it is our time to go. I think it helped the members to not be afraid of moving forward with whatever they need to do and to not be afraid to meet with us.

Well I love you all and hope all is well! Have a good week and good luck with everything you have going on!! I was going to send pictures in the Christmas package I was going to get ready and send next week but I will just send the letters sorry again. (Editor's note: In an earlier email exchange addressing the stolen banking card, she realized she would have no access to money to purchase any of the items she wanted to send home for Christmas). I guess you will just have to wait till next Christmas for my amazing idea!

Love you! Sister Larsen

Ps. Kilee I can't email you back but I will try and write you a letter soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The swine flu epidemic has hit Ukraine!

Hey everyone,

Dad, I was going to be so mad at you if you left me hanging in the top of the 9th tied for an entire week! But thankfully Chase updated me and then you finished off the score. I actually really love the sports updates! We don't get any news here about anything and our DL is a huge U fan... so that is all I hear about. Good luck this week with trial! I know it isn't your favorite thing but just remember that I am arguing with the grandma's here at the same time :D.

Mom, I am not surprised to hear of a car load of projects! You amaze me every week. Always looking for some way to improve yourself. I was actually thinking how good it would be to buy a new set of scriptures myself. I have loved having my Russian scriptures because they are marked with all of the lesson scriptures, all of the basic docturines. My English scriptures have a lot of things that I have marked for a lot of different reasons and now when I read them I always read the scripture the same way with the same meaning. It is nice to start over every once and awhile and take a new look at the scriptures.

Chase and Ashley, I am glad to hear that everything is going well. I am actually really curious who was the cat and who was the mouse? I want to see pictures of all of these costumes. I am glad that school is going well and that work is good, that drive is killer when you have to do it everyday! I couldn't open the picture that you sent. I think you have to send it as an attachment.

Brynn, I kinda already wrote you a little note but I love you and have thought about you a lot!

So to start off, last week when mom told me how to protect myself from the swine flu I just kinda laughed and didn't really pay attention to it. I thought to myself, how could the swine flu get me all the way in Ukraine? Well, the good news is I am not sick yet with the swine flu but Ukraine is practically shut down. All of the schools and universities have been shut down for the next 3 weeks and we are not allowed to meet in large groups. Everyone has bought those masks that mom bought to take to Spain and everyone wears them everywhere. When we try to contact people on the bus or on the street they just cover their mouths and walk away. Also everyone has cancelled their appointments with us because they are afraid of the Gripe, haha. I think it is really really funny actually. But as a missionary, there is no rest for the weary so we are pressing on with the work :D.

This last week has been a lot of fun. We went to the Ballet last Tuesday with Ulya and Annetta, a mother and a daughter that we have been working with. It was a lot of fun but our seats were aweful. We are allowed to go to one cultural thing a transfer so we went to Romeo and Juliet, the ballet for about $3.00 US. It was awesome.

We have had a lot of good and bad this week.

Cvetlana agreed to meet with us again and things are going so well. She quit smoking on Saturday and she has had a big increase of faith these last few days. It makes such an amazing difference when a member is helping her. We have again hit a little bump in the road because of the flu and she is nervous to leave her house so we are going to try and work with her a little over the phone and see if we can still make her date for this Saturday. She said that she would be okay if we moved it to next week but we will see what happens. I am really excited for her, she has made some really great changes and you can see the difference.

They don't celebrate Halloween here at all and no one really knows about it. So we had a harvest fest for all of the members and our investigators. The bishop cancelled it because of the flu but he said that if we still wanted to do it we could without the support of the ward. That made things hard but we had already told a bunch of people about it so we still had it. It was fun and a few members came along with some of our investigators. I think they all had fun and our investigators were able to meet some of the members. It was nice of them to come and support us even when they were afraid of getting sick. It turned out okay in the end.

This week we are starting a consecration week. We are putting all of our efforts into making sure that we are working hard and keeping every rule to the letter. We are going to have a hard week with everyone cancelling on us so we will just try to do our part. I liked a quote that mom wrote in the book she sent me. "Pray as if everything depending on the Lord, and Work as if everything depended on us." That is my motto! Well, I love you all and hope all is well. Have an amazing week!

Sister Larsen

ps. it is better to just send letters to the office because we don't even check our mail. You can send letters directly to the office or in the pouch and I still get dearelders through the pouch. I have heard from Holly and Grandma and Grandpa Crookston so far. It has been fun to hear from them. Tell them hi for me. Love you!