Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

Good Morning Family,

I can't tell you how good it was to hear all of your voices this past week! After we got off the phone I cried a few tears and the poor elders didn't know how to react, then we went out and sang Christmas carols to some of our investigators and members! I was a Christmas to remember that is for sure! We sang to a woman with Cerebral Palsy. She is a member but she is not able to leave her apartment. Her bed was decorated for Christmas and we went and sang a few songs to them. I don't think I have ever seen a bigger smile in Ukraine. It was an amazing experience and I hope that i never forget it. I felt like I could save the world that night.

Mom, it was so good to talk to you. I felt like a little kid again waiting for your phone call. I even took the phone an hour before you were suppose to call because I knew that dad gets up early and I thought maybe Christmas would come a few minutes early. It sounds like you and dad need to learn how to relax. I used to be pretty good at it. I have a few hints for you. If you go down into the basement and get the big yellow blanket and lay on the couch you can stay there for hours. Also your phones probably won't get service so you could maybe get a nap if you take the house phone off the hook. Also those little puppies love to sleep a lot. But I think Dakota might be jealous if you let her curl up on your lap.

Dad, Thank you for the prayer and for all of the advice, and for the Christmas present in my account! You are amazing! It was fun to hear about your Christmas Eve in Germany in 1975. Ours seemed kinda similar. Lena got sick and was laying on the floor in the church on Christmas eve. After the elders gave her a blessing, we spent most of the night looking for a taxi for her.

Brynn, I am so proud of you! I want to hear about your experience yesterday! I am sure that you are pretty drained after all of it. I remember being really tired after my blessing and just wanting to eat and take a nap. It sounds like it was a pretty wonderful day! It also sounds like both of us have some family history that we need to do. Maybe you can help me light a fire under my butt and get some of it done!

Chase and Ashley, It was good to hear from both of you! I hope that you had an amazing time at Ashley's on Christmas. I am sure it was fun to watch all of those kids open their Christmas. Tell them all thanks for waiting for you to talk to me! I can't tell you how happy I was to hear your voices! Congrats again on your interviews and everything with your schools!

So to the rest of this week was crazy again. On Saturday, we had planned to do a missionary activity in the morning with the members. We set up a table to give out free information about the church, in an area where there are a lot of families but Americans are not allowed to sell or proselyte there, so we were really relying on the members. Only 3 members showed up and so we sang in the cold and froze. I hope that we at least helped one person to get some information that will bring them closer. After, we rushed back to the church for Lena's baptism which was really great. 5 or 6 members came but she really enjoyed it. She asked me to give a talk about baptism and I hadn't had any time to prepare. I was shaking when I stood up and I just rambled in Russian. I am not sure if anything that I had said made sense but I hope she understood the meaning and the love that I wanted to portray.

On Sunday, the ward had a big Christmas celebration. We watched the 1st Presidency devotional in Ukrainian, had lunch, and a concert/skit! It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of investigators there, and everyone really enjoyed themselves. A lot of the members also invited their neighbors and friends so it was a big finding day for us. We were a little overwhelmed because one of our investigators got sick and then she offended one of our other investigators. It was a little crazy but in the end it was a great Christmas activity.

Well I will write you a letter on New Years because we have to be in our apartments all day, so I am guessing I will have some extra time. I love you all and wish you a Happy New Year! Make some good resolutions!

Sister Larsen

Ps. I will think of some puppy names and email them next week.
Pss. Tell the Andersons and Martins Merry Christmas and tell Melon hi for me!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Good Morning And Merry Christmas!

I am sure that you are all just busy getting ready for Christmas this week. Thank you for the emails and pictures! It made my day to see all of the pictures and the house looks amazing as always!! I received my packages on the 18th :D Thank you Thank you Thank you!! It has been a serious struggle to save them for Christmas.

Mom, I am sorry that you have been sick all week!! It is never fun to be sick around the holidays but I am so happy that you are feeling better and back to celebrating the holidays!! You are doing all of the amazing things that you always do. ........ The fireplace looks very empty with only two stockings.

Dad, You seem busy as always! Thanks for the pictures and for all of the hellos! You will have to pass on a hi back from me. I am glad that you have had the singles filling your house again. I hope that you didn't hang mistle toe all over the house again so that everywhere you walk you have to kiss someone. (Editor's note: Of course we hung mistletoe all over the house--part of Teresa's more kissing campaign) I told my companion about that and she just laughed. Thanks for the letter that you sent to the YSA's it was really good to read.

Brynn! I can't tell you how proud I am of you!! ......... I can't wait for you to go do baptisms and to hear all about it on Friday!! I want to hear every detail! Also I think that your gingerbread house looks a million times better this year!! Although the woman looks a little sketch from a missionary'point of view--- hahaha! I love it! Tell Ben hi and Merry Christmas

Chase and Ashley, You are both hopefully done with finals and just relaxing/ working for the holidays! I can't believe that school is either over or very very close to being over!! I am sure that it will be a relief when all of your finals are done. How are the two of you going to celebrate? Are you going to start any new traditions for the two of you? Chase I still want to hear about your night with the missionaries? Did you have any cool lessons?

So we found out transfer info on Saturday night and I will be staying in my same area with Sister Movchanyuk. We are going on for round 3 which is unheard of for sisters. .............. (Editor's note: Let's just say Brooke is learning from a challenge and experiencing the ups and downs of having a 24/7 missionary companion). But anyway we have had a lot of success in this area together and so we will try and keep it up so that we can continue to help this ward prepare for the temple opening.

We have our baptism on Saturday and I can't wait. Lena came to church yesterday and was participating in all of the lessons and she signed up to bring something to the Christmas lunch next Sunday. She is so cool! We were talking to our MCL and she just walked up to him and asked him if he would baptize her without really saying anything else. We also got to hear Svetlana testify about Joseph Smith on Sunday and she prayed at the end of Relief Society. It is so awesome to see the people that we meet continue to progress and to become part of this family.

We also had an older woman come to church. Her name is Natalia and we have been teaching her for a while with little progress. When she came yesterday and said that she feels like she has found a new family. She lives alone and is very lonely so it was great to have to sister at the ward exchanging numbers with her and inviting her to come and do things with them! I love our ward so much.

So for Christmas we are giving up most of our p-day again to have lunch together and then probably have a lesson or something in the evening after our PHONE CALL!! yay! We are also having a "large transfer meeting" on Christmas Eve, President wanted to have a Mission conference but you have to have a general authority here to do that. He is bringing all of the missionaries into the area to have a large meeting to make a push for these last two weeks of the year so that we can reach our goal. We still have a long ways to go but with a few miracles I can see it happening! Well I want to send some pictures of all of the snow here. It hasn't stopped snowing almost all week. Today has been the first sunny day in a long time but it is still -17ish. Man it is dang cold! I have 3 pairs of socks on, usually 2 skirts (only one today), 2 pairs of gloves and about 2 shirts, a sweater and my downcomforter coat! We do what we need to inorder to stay warm. I also sent this weeks letter from our mission president. I thought it was a really neat story that you could share with your ward or just read. It helped me to remember that we are all really searching for the same love of Christ in our lives.

Well I love you all and look forward to talking to you on Friday.

Love, Cecmpa Larsen

Monday, December 14, 2009

Editor's note

The last two posts are out of order. I posted her email from this morning first and then realized that I had not yet posted her letter from last week. Enjoy!


Good morning from Kiev!

Hey Family,

First things first before I forget. I told the office that you would be calling at 4:30 my time and 7:30 your time. We are not moving.. I don't know what I said in my last letter but transfers are on the 24th and we don't find out until a week from this Saturday if we will be transfered. We then won't find out until the 24th where we will be going and who our new companion will be. There is a very good possibility that either I or Sister Movchanyuk will be transfered. I am guessing that I will be transfered but I don't know, it is just a guess!

Mom and Dad, It sounds like you will be having a lot of fun this week! I hope that you are both safe and having a blast! The ship sounds amazing and I can't wait to see pictures! And Happy Anniversary!!

Brynn, your title to your letter was amazing! I laughed out loud and I could see kota's little scratching face in my head. I am sure that you are loving staying with her! Congrats again to you and Ben on the big 1 year! Sounds like you had a lot of fun making the gingerbread house! Tell him hi for me!

Chase and Ash, Congrats on getting into Boston and Temple! I think you should go to Boston, but I know that my opinion counts very little against budget and Ashley. Although it would be really really nice to have you close so that we can see you a lot more often. That is awesome though. Thanks for the updates on everything! I hope that I get to talk to you both on Christmas morning. I know you will be with Ash's family but maybe we could do a conference call again or something. I think it is awesome that you are helping out the missionaries. We are always looking for people to come with us on lessons or to let us have lessons at their houses so that our investigators will realize that mormons are normal people. And that to be Mormon you don't have to live like a missionary. I decided a few weeks ago that I will have the missionaries over to my house (when I have a house/apartment) several times a month, because they really really need the help. Thank you for being willing to help!

This week was full of dogs. We had an amazing week planned with 25 lessons and several member referral lessons with the members. We only had 13 lessons this week and none of them were with members. Our members are awesome and they are always looking for opportunities to share the gospel. They are always handing out pamplets and fliers for us and this week we had two families invite us over to teach their friends! It is always great when you get a phone call from a member that says, "hey come over tomorrow night and teach my neighbor at my house. I have been talking to them about you and they want to hear more!" After that call I couldn't wait to get to work. It ended up that one family went to the Orthodox church this week and the other neighbor was "sick." Also a lot of the lessons that we had planned didn't show up and wouldn't answer their phones. We call that "being dogged." That, I think is the most frustrating thing ever! We actually are dropping several of our current investigators because they just aren't keeping commitments and moving forward.

Anyway, on a happier note, we are still working with Lena. She is doing well, still not progressing like we want her to but she is trying. We decided not to drop her because she told us that she is really scared to come to church on Sunday. We told her that it is a big change but if she would just come and see what church was like she wouldn't be as scared. She did come to a baptism that we had at our church this week though and she liked what she saw. We will meet with her tonight and see how things go.

We had exchanges this last week and again this week. The sisters from a city about an hour away came here and we all worked in our area. I was with sister Anakashan. She is from Armania and barely speaks any English. We spoke all day in Russian. I was actually surprised at how much I both understood and could say. She was speaking very easy Russian but sometimes we would both be sitting their with our Dictionaries, mine English to Russian and hers, Armanian to English. It was nice to work with someone new and see the way that
she teaches. She is really nice and has an awesome story. This next week I will be going for a day with Sister Movchanyuk's first trainee. It should be fun to see and work in a new part of the city.

The temple is looking amazing!!! They have almost all of the trees in and they are starting to take the scaffolding down!!! you can see the full back side of the temple and it is beautiful! Most of the windows are in and they just have the stone on the upper part of the outside. While we were walking out of the church one day we ran into the Architect and he showed us pictures of the inside. They are putting in the wood work and it looks so beautiful. He said that they were already starting to do finishing work on both the inside and the outside! We have had such great weather that they have been able to do a lot more then they planned on doing. It is 3 Degrees today and we saw some of our first snow flakes today but it still isn't sticking!!! Heavenly Father is still helping align my will with his by degrees :D.

I love you all and hope that all is well with you! Have a good week and I will talk to you all in a few weeks! By the way, I am expecting some letter letters soon:D. I know you sent packages already but letters are really really nice:D just a hint. I love you all dearly! Thanks for the emails and the support! Tell everyone hi for me!

Sister Larsen

Winter Has Arrived in Kiev!!!

Hey everyone!!!

Welcome home Mom and Dad!! I am glad that you had a wonderful trip! I have been thinking about how nice and toasty you have been these last few days and I realized today that it finally happened.. my tan lines are completely gone!!! I am very very very white!!

Mom, Thank you for the email!! I am glad that you are both home safe and that you had so much fun!! It sounds like an amazing trip! . . . .

Dad, I am sad to hear that you will be released soon. I was hoping that the YSA ward would be able to take care of you while I am gone . . . .

Brynn, I can't tell you how proud I am of you!!!! . . . .I also want to see one of your christmas cards! You should send me one if you have an extra! One last thing.. I was thinking about the time that Mom and Dad left and the fridge broke and was flooding the kitchen. You just have all the fun times when you are watching the house. I am glad that you didn't blow-up or freeze to death.

Chase and Ashley, . . . ..

So this week has been interesting both good and bad but I think that is every week on the mission. I have been struggling with my teaching and I have been feeling very homesick this last week because it just doesn't feel like Christmas at all. There are no lights, no trees, no Christmas music (except where there are missionaries), . . . .). There is no Christmas spirit. The big holiday is New Year and Christmas is secondary. But finally this week turned around. We taped up lights on our window and one of the senior missionaries gave us santa hats that we wear while we are planning and eating at night. The members decorated the church and a Christmas tree. It is feeling a little closer to the Christmas spirit. I read in the Liahona about a family that didn't have much to give their friends for Christmas so they and sang Christmas Carols to their Landlord. It helped me remember that the spirit of Christmas isn't the decorations or Santa but it is Christ, how do you forget that as a missionary? It is about loving the people around you and helping them feel the love of the Savior.

The bad news of the week is it dropped to the negatives this week. Right now we are at a toasty -7 Celcius :D. It is cold. It hasn't really snowed hard here but there is always a constant flurry of snow. There is snow on the ground and those pee puddles that I told you about are now ice and slightly scarier. It seems that the colder it gets the taller the boots get, higher the high heels get and the skirts keep getting shorter.

The good news is that Lena has decided to get baptised on the 26th :D. She came to church yesterday for the first time. She has been to stake conference but not sacrament and she was so excited about her decision. She cried most of the meeting and she was telling all of the members after about her decision. It has been a long confusing road with her but she is amazing and she is going to be an awesome member. The night that she decided on a date she was asking a question and she kept bouncing back and forth between "Is it your, I mean our, Your, our, your, our church? She finally decided that it was no longer just our church but it was her church too! It made me so happy!

Some other good news is that I bought a fur hat :D, but I feel really dumb wearing it. I wore it one night but I just feel like a poser. It is a real fox fur hat and I think it is pretty awesome though! I am thinking about making it the new fashion in Utah because it is dang warm. I will try and send a picture. Well I can't wait to talk to you next week and I can't believe that it is next week! I will let you know what is going on with transfers next week. I will be sad to leave this area because our investigators are awesome and the ward is amazing!! But it could be fun to spend Christmas eve on a train! We will see what happens! I love you all.

I hope that you still have to country code that I sent 2 weeks ago because I don't remember it and if I look it up right now I will lose my letter but here is the rest of my number: 050 353 59 78.

It is a cell phone and we are told that we really only have 30-40 minutes but if you are really insistant we can talk longer... I do have two requests though.. think of some things or questions that you might have and write them next week so that I can have some answers for you.. and second, I love you all very much and I miss you very much but if you can try not to miss me too much in your letters I think it would help me not feel so homesick. Thanks for your support and help! I love you all so much!!!

Sister Larsen