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

Here Comes the Sun!

Hey, hey everyone!

I am so so happy that everyone is having an amazing week/month. I love each week opening up my email and hearing about all of the amazing things going on! It sounds like you are all healthy and busy! Thanks for all the emails! It was good to see pictures of Kelsey's little boy! He is so cute! You will have to tell the other new moms congrats as well and if you get a hold of some pictures I would love to see them!

Mom, It sounds like you have had a good week! I am happy that Ellie hasn't been too destructive and you will have to give her a birthday hug for me! It really doesn't matter to me when my homecoming is. I don't really have any plans yet so you guys decide what works with you and I will just be there. I really have no preference. I would love to go down to St. George with everyone or out to Boston to see Chase and Ashley since we will only really have 2 days with them. As of right now though I don't really have my heart set on anything. I did get to see Sister Stevens and Sister Dibbs. They only had about 2 minutes so I just gave Sister Stevens a hug and she started crying. She said that she got to talk to you and that you are an amazing person. They are both really amazing and I wish that I had gotten a few extra minutes to talk to them.

Dad, You are just all over the place. It sounds like you are staying busy as ever. Thanks for the sports updates. I am so far out of the loop that it isn't even funny anymore. Congrats on the new car. You will have to send me a new picture when you get it. I am excited for you. It is time that you treated yourself to something new. I am really excited to go to a Jazz game with you.

Brynn, Where did Chicago come from? Well while you are there keep your eyes open for a marketing internship for me! I think it would be so fun to find internships in the same big city for the summer. I need to start working on that right when I get home. But I am still here so gotta focus. What is going on with the whole school thing? Are you thinking still about taking classes? I am still so proud of you that you ran that race.

Chase and Ashley, How's it going? I am sure that school is keeping you so busy, but whats up? what is new? How are your church callings? Chase have you had any luck while trying to share the gospel at school?

Jenny, I heard that your play is coming up with week! Good luck I know you have put in a lot of work and that you will do amazing! Remember to have fun while you and to not worry so much about everything else. I wish I could be there to congratulate you but I will just have my mom give you an extra hug for me! Break a leg!

So, this week has been unusually warm. Ukraine has never had such a warm November. It is +15, +16 and it is really nice. I haven't even had to put on my hat yet this year. I am hoping that it lasts at least one more week. I hope! I have heard mix stories about how cold it is suppose to be but I just hope that it holds off until January!

We have one more week until transfers and I can't believe that I really only have 6 full weeks left of working out here. I really really hope that I stay in this area for my last transfer. I have no idea what president is thinking but I have taken some tips from dad and I have dropped some subtle hints to president by saying something like, "President you know that I will got where even the Lord wants me to go but I would love to finish out my last transfer here." We find out next Tuesday and transfers are on Thursday. I know I won't be training and I don't really know where I would go but I hope that I stay here ha ha.

This week has been really great. We have worked really hard and we are kind of in a new finding period. We have had to pass or drop a lot of our investigators because they don't live in our area. That is the hard part about center is that everyone is always here but no one lives here. We took one of our investigators to a baptism on Saturday and she loved it. She even took her husband to church on Sunday to see the gift of the Holy Ghost. She is so cute but we came to find out that she lives in another part of the city. Bummer! But the good thing is there really aren't sisters in that area so we might be able to still work with them. :D.

We do have one really great investigator Lyubov! Her name means love ha:D. But she came to church last week and she really really wants to get baptized but she wants her husband to come with her. She said that they are one and they should make the step together. But she already considers herself a member and she has been sharing the Gospel with everyone! She makes me laugh! I love her so so so much!

Other then that there really isn't much new. We are just moving a long trying to do the work. Actually we have this family in our ward that I adore. They are the Bohdans! They have been members for about 12 years and we have been trying to meet with them and do missionary work with them. They are one of the busiest families that I have even met but every time they make time for us we always have the best lessons with them. It is crazy because they are so open to the spirit and when he tells them to do something they do it. Throughout the lesson they will get ideas of who they should work with and what they should do. This week or next week hopefully we will be meeting with them and their friends! They are amazing!

Irina is doing really well! We are still meeting with her and her daughters and they are just amazing! Zhenya is doing really well. She is still reading the Book of Mormon everyday. They both amaze me. We are working slowly with them because they have a lot to learn but they are ready and willing. I learn so much from them every day!

Well I should get going I love you all so much and I am happy that you are doing well! I am trying really hard not to count the days. Everyone here sends their love!

Sister Larsen

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Less than 2 months to go!

Hey everyone!
It sounds like we all had very eventful weekends! I am so so happy that everything went well with the race and that you had fun! I was wondering if anyone would want to try that again next year?? It sounds like a pretty amazing opportunity. Thanks for the letters! I know that you were all pretty beat and I was so happy to hear from you. I also loved the pictures!

Mom, Way to go! I loved the quote from the song that you said. It made me think of a lot of things, a lot of dreams that I have had and the challenges that are placed before us, butt if we can make it in New York we can make it anywhere. Sometimes the hardest things in life prepare us for something even harder that would have been impossible without our preparation and previous experiences. I am so thankful for your strength and persistence in all things. You amaze me! By the way, my friend wrote me this week and told me that you were sitting next to the Primary General Presidency on the plane. His mom is Jean Stevens and she said that she got to talk to you! You are famous! ha

Dad, I am in awe of your dedication! You are always on the run and I swear you never get too tired to work hard or play hard. You really do live by that motto. I loved the words that you quoted too. I have been thinking a lot about our earth life and how short it is, and how we can't blame the world or others for the situations that we are in but look at them as opportunities for a new start or a new adventure. I will go into this more later but I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and words! You are the best.

Brynn, Way to go! I think you are awesome! I can't even imagine the pain you were experiencing but I hope that we can all experience it next year? I have been thinking a lot too about fulfilling my dream of living in New York for a summer.... Maybe we could find a wedding planning company and get some internships. Dad probably won't be happy to hear that but hey our time is short right? ha. How did the rest of your week go? Mom said that she bought tickets again to plays? Did you have to tell Pa that everything's gonna be ok?

Chase and Ashley, Dad sent some pictures and you guys look great! I am pretty sure that school is starting to wind down for Ash. I hope that everything goes well. I actually had a dream about you guys and Ashley and Brynn were helping me get ready for school. They were helping me with my style issues and I was terrified to go back. It was a funny dream and Brynn and Ash kept telling me that I looked so cute in a red and yellow stripped calf-length skirt and a denim vest. It was bad but funny. Dad also said that you had some Ukrainians in your mission? What were their names? Were they missionaries?

Okay so here is the week! Irina got baptized!!!!! It was a really great baptism and we had one of the greatest turnouts I have ever seen! There were so many members and everyone came up to her and congratulated her. Many members brought flowers and bore amazing testimonies. Her baptism was really good. There were a lot of investigators that had a great experience. On Sunday she was given the Holy Ghost by the Bishop and he did an amazing job. I just sat and cried the entire time. His prayer was so sincere and I think that everyone there felt the Holy Ghost so strongly! Zhenya, her daughter didn't get baptized because she didn't feel ready but she had a good experience at church yesterday. We are continuing to meet with her and we will see what she decides. It is all her decision and I am really happy that she is taking it seriously. She is only 14 but she has been reading the Book of Mormon every day and praying. She is such a great girl, I think she is just afraid of being different. We are meeting with them tonight to do a family home evening and to teach them a little

We met with that couple this last week and we found out that they don't live in our area. They are really great and we taught them about the Word of Wisdom and Plan of Salvation. When we talked about coffee and tea they said that they would go home and immediately throw everything away. They are really great. They were out of town but I am excited to meet with them again this week. We have to pass them though.. But Sister Walker will be taking over and she will do a great job.

So this week I was really studying a lot about our lives here and our roles here. I have really come to know that everything that happens to us really is our choice. Even if it is something bad. We chose to come here when we lived with our Heavenly Father and we voiced our opinion. We said that we wanted to come down to this earth in this time, with these problems. We said that we would do the best we could to chose the Lord. I believe with all of my heart that we are where we are suppose to be. Some of our trials may be harder then others, maybe they may seem impossible, but like it is written in 1 Nephi "The Lord gives no commandments unto the children of men save He should prepare a way for them, to accomplish the thing that He has given them." The Lord knows we can do what He asks, if we couldn't He wouldn't have asked. He doesn't set us up for failure. We set ourselves up for failure when we loose faith in him and in ourselves. I read a quote that I love! "He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure." and another one that I have taken as the motto for the end of my mission, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." If we want to do something then we need to do it because no one can change our lives if we don't have the desire and the intent to do something. I am so thankful that we have the choice. Our Heavenly Father loves us and trusts us enough to give us the choice to return to him and to make something out of our lives. The Lord gives us opportunities through the world and presents us with choices that can change our lives if we choose wisely. Well I am going to get off my soap box now. ha

Well I should probably get going. I hope that all is well with you! I am glad that you had fun running and I hope that you have a great rest of your trip. I love you all so much and I hope that you have an amazing week.

Love you all,
Sister Larsen

I am starting to feel it........

Hey family!

Thank you for all of the emails and notes! I am so happy every time I open my email and I have a full in box! I am happy to hear that everyone is happy and almost healthy. It sounds like you are all enjoying the beginning of fall!

Thanks for the heads up on school and registering. I just checked the website and I cannot register until the 27th. I am hoping that I will be able to get permission to register before I leave the Internet club but if I don't I might hop back on and give you a heads up. It sounds good to have Christmas on the 31 and 1. I was kinda secretly planning it in the back of my head :D. I can't promise that I will wake up super early... or maybe I might be up before the rest of you. It doesn't really matter to me what we do as long as we get to spend some time together before Chase and Ash take off. Plus I don't really want to celebrate New Years this year... I think it would be super awkward as a newly return missionary and dad hanging mistletoe everywhere. I might need a little time. ha. Oh and it might be good to find out if the Stake President could release me before I head down to school? I don't know if he will be in town for the holiday season.

Mom, I am excited for your race. When do you go to New York? That is so sad about the boat. I guess I will have to start letting go of maybe one last trip. I understand what you are saying about Lott's wife. We always talk about how we are going to have a mission reunion trip down there sometime. I love that place and I am excited about some of the new memories we will be able to create with new traditions.

Dad, I am glad that your hunt went well! It sounds like everyone got the fair share of birds. I love the picture of Dakota with the bird in her mouth! She is so teeny tiny! I have a dream about her last night and I woke up missing you all like crazy. I am glad that work has taken a pause for a minute and that you will get to go with mom and Brynn to the race. Cheer extra loud for me too! Give Mom and Brynn hugs at the finish line for me!

Brynn, Hey pen! So we talked a lot about you this week. A girl we starting meeting with for English brought a movie that she had just checked out from the library to watch and I saw it in her bag. Can you guess what it was? Forest Gump, I bet you were not going to guess that were you? Well it made me think about all of our family a lot, "Penny." It made me laugh and think of all of our nick names. I also found a picture from when we were having the time of our lives on New years. But anyway, I am glad that you have been having fun. That is no fun that you aren't feeling too well. GO to the Dr, we all know how I feel about strep, better to be on the safe side. Good luck this week. You will have to tell me all about it next week. And I want to see a picture of Randy in a baby costume.

Chase and Ash, how is good ol' Boston? I heard that the falls are amazing there! You will have to take some pictures and send them! Ash, how are you feeling? You are getting pretty close to being done! Good luck these next couple of weeks. I don't know if you can but i would love to see a picture of your class all together! Chase, how did your second round of exams go?

Okay, so I am starting to feel like I have been run over by a truck. I don't know where all of my energy is but somewhere along the way it got left behind. This week was a world wind week and I don't even remember it starting. We have been meeting with a ton of people and finding a few new ones as we go.

We started a little game in our district to help keep us all focused and progressing instead of just being comfortable with where we are. We are having the Olympics in our district. Each day we have different events, being on time, number of contacts, number of times we ask for referrals, and speaking Russian on the street. Each day we get a number of points and then a companion will win each week. It has helped us a lot to really crack down on the little things that we don't even notice that we do. It has been a lot of fun and I think that we are winning. ;)

We didn't have a baptism last week, it is this week, maybe I phrased it wrong but we are having a lot of fun getting ready. I love teaching this family and they are so great. They came to Stake conference yesterday and they were ON-TIME!!!! yay! We got to sit with them and answer some of their questions. Tonight also we are going to have a family home evening with them. It is a mom and two daughters. Jenya is 14 and Dianna is 5. We get to play with them while we teach them and it has been a blast. I get so excited to see them and they will call and tell us things that happen during the week. They are really excited for this weekend!

So for a funny story this week. we had a missionary the left for the MTC today. She was staying with us this weekend until she left today. The assistants said that she would be at our apartment at about 9:30 on Saturday night. Well 9:30 came and went and she still hadn't called. I thought it was weird and thought we would just wait a few more minutes. She wasn't a missionary yet so I just thought that maybe she wanted to stay with friends. at 9:45 we called the assistants and they didn't answer so we called again at 10. They answered and said that we should wait until 10:15, still no sign. They called the driver who had dropped her off here at 9:20. She had been waiting outside since 9:20. Well since my phone got stolen no one really knows which number is mine and so the assistants gave her my old number. The poor girl thought we forgot about her. I felt so bad but we laughed and helped her get her bags up. But this morning she got us back because we had to be up at 2:30 in order to walk her down to the taxi. It took us forever to get back to sleep and Sister Zenger and I just sat up and laughed and joked about how tired we were. That probably isn't the funniest story you have heard but I am still feeling the effects.

This week should be exciting and I hope that everything goes well with the interviews for Irina and Jenya this week. They are ready but I don't know if they think the are ready. Well I should get going. I love you all and wish you the best! I am so happy that everything is going well! Send Derrick and Al my love and prayers!

Sister Larsen

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hey Hey Hey everyone!

So good news! I saw the special! Bad news I was crying so hard that I barely could see ha. It was amazing! If you could send a special thanks to Carole for me that would be amazing! It turned out better than I could have ever thought! And you guys look great! Everyone keeps saying that you guys are way cute and they say to tell you hi!

Dad, I got all of your pictures! You look great and it looks like there shouldn't be a living bird anywhere in sight. I am sure mom is going to love having pheasant in her freezer for the next year. Kota looks so tired it looks like you are holding her up by the collar in most pictures. You can tell that she is the oldest one in the bunch. Tell everyone that I say hi and I hope that you all had fun. Tell Grant I say "hi" back. I love them all! And give Terry and Steve a hard time for being the only ones in their "go to town" clothes.

Mom, Sounds like you are finally getting to do some of those things that you need to do. I am happy for you. It sounds like you are doing well and thank you so much for going to Liz's farewell. I might send you a letter to forward to her today if I have time. I am jealous that you all got to go to Thriller! We heard the song in a restaurant the other day and I immediately went back to that concert. When is the NYC marathon? I can't wait to hear how it all goes.

Brynn, thanks for the email. It sounds like things are going well. PS. I could use some pictures some time... ha. I think that the Halloween theme sounds like a lot of fun. I keep telling people about the Halloween parties that Jen and Al put on and they love it. Are they having a party this year? What will the theme be?

Chase and Ash, how's its going? Mom and dad said that you are super busy with exams this week I hope that they go well! How was having Ashley's family? What did you guys do while they were there with you? Ash, how is the teaching going? How do you like the school and kids?

Jenny, I was so happy to get your email! It sounds like you are having so much fun and that you are keeping my family busy! I love hearing that you have made good friends and that you are enjoying the experience that you have had with our church! I can't wait to meet you! I am so thankful for the influence you have had on my family! You have helped them so much and they are so happy to have you there! Have a great week and good luck with the play!

Okay so this was a crazy week. Monday we went to a street that I will take you to when you come. It is amazing and there are all kinds of souvenirs. We went a little crazy. But that night we had a great lesson/ FHE with some of the people that showed up at the church. There is normally a senior couple that is here and they are in charge of FHE for the youth but they went home and a new couple hasn't shown up yet. So we were having a lesson and we just decided to combined it with some of the people that didn't hear that it was cancelled and we had a fun night.

On Tuesday I met up with the 2 elders with whom I was to travel with to Bulgaria and we caught a taxi to the airport, where we met 4 other elders from another mission... Yes me with 6 elders all week. It was a lot of fun though. We saw a lot of the city and we tried to do some contacting but it was hard because everyone there speaks Bulgarian. It sounds a lot like Ukrainian and Russian but very different. When I read it I could understand it but speaking was another story. But there were several people that learned Russian when it was under the USSR. It was an interesting city with nice people but I knew I wasn't in my mission. It is strange how you can feel when you are not in the place that you know you are suppose to be. I thought it was a great mission but I am happy to be back to my mission and the Ukrainian people. It freaked me out a little to get on an airplane and to see the city disappear below me. It kinda shot me forward two months and I think I am more scared now then I was before. That day is coming way too fast and at the same time not fast enough. I can't decide where I stand. I just wish you could all come here and be missionaries with me. I think that would be the best of both worlds. ha.

But yeah I got back and on Friday we were able to watch the program on President's computer. It was very well done and I was a little embarrassed for myself because I was sitting in the front and I couldn't wipe the tears from my eyes fast enough. But it was great and I think that everyone that saw it has loved the way it turned out.

Friday and Saturday it was back to the work. I was so happy to be back, meeting with people and teaching in a language that I understand. It feels good to be back in the swing of things. Agness is doing great but she is still out of town. She still hasn't smoked and she hasn't had coffee for a week now. We had a talk last night on the phone and she had totally forgotten that she had been out of coffee for an entire week. She ran out and just never bought more. I reminded her when I asked her about it. She is so great. Also Irina and Jenya are doing great! Jenya was sick yesterday so she wasn't able to come to church but they are doing so well. We will meet with them this week and get them situated for the baptism next week. They are really excited.

Also this week the elders found an amazing family and we are going to meet with the daughter tomorrow. They are from Armenia and they met with the elders for the first time in order to do English but they felt like it was a blessing from God. They all came to church yesterday and the daughter asked what she needed to do in order to become a part of this. We started talking about baptism and she said that she wouldn't feel right getting baptized again but then members turned around and started talking about their baptisms. It was a great Sunday!

I am so thankful for this time here, for the people here and the friendships that I have been able to make. I can't wait for you all to meet these people here and to feel of their love. I am so thankful for your examples and for the support and love that I get from you each week! You all have had such a great influence on my mission even though you are so far away! I love you all! and I miss you so so so much! have a great week and be safe!

Sister Larsen

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Transfer Gone!

Hey family!

Thank you for all of the emails and love! I loved hearing about how my parents are huge TV stars in the Big City. Don't let your heads get too big, we still have a long ways before we get Hollywood big. But seriously, I am glad that so many people got something out of it. I still haven't been able to see it. We are waiting for one of the senior couples to get a copy from Carole Mikita and then President said he will show it to everyone. I am a little nervous. I feel like from what everyone has been saying that I am the center! I know I am not but man I wish it was a little less me and more temple and more Ukraine ha. I hope it is not as big as everyone makes it sound.

Mom, As you were talking about the SuperStar moment I may have hit replay in my head and laughed a little. I hope these pills don't have the same effect. I am 100% sure that you will be fine. Everyone I have talked to hasn't even mentioned the side effects that they had from the pills. It was mostly the tiredness from the radiation. I think you will still be the amazing, graceful, lovely, kind, . . . mother we know and love. If you change a little we will still love you all the same. Like everyone here says, "Don't worry, Be happy." haha they love that phrase. Thanks for going to all of my friends' farewells. I wish I could be there so badly especially to see Liz. I hate that I won't see her for 3 years, but I know she will do great. Send her my love and a big hug. And maybe if you could get her address that would be fantastic. You are amazing! Are the girls going to do anything fun while the boys are gone hunting? And thanks for getting us signed up for housing! I have heard that is a good place to live.

Dad, I can't believe it is already that time again, the hunt is on. Please be so so careful. I know how much you guys love to joke around but please take care of yourself and my puppies. But I bet you will have a ton of fun. I loved the story of the guy in the elevator. It made me laugh pretty hard. I am sorry that your eyes are bugging you. I hope that you can get adjusted pretty quickly.

Brynn, how was your marathon recovery week? Did you get some rest or did you find something to fill your week up? It sounds like you did both at once maybe? Mom or dad left me a hint of what you did this week ha. I remember you saying that you have a lot of flowers this week? Good luck and have fun. We talked a lot yesterday about coming home and doing flowers. My companion worked at a flower shop in Provo and it made me a little trunky to get home and get to work.

Chase and Ash, Hey how are you guys? How was having Paige and Ann? What did you guys end up doing? I think I remember that Chase has a lot of test this week so I am sure that you are just hitting the books like crazy now so good luck and study hard. I know you will do great. You always do.

Alright so we finally got to watch conference yesterday and Saturday and I loved every minute! I loved Elder Holland's talk and i just cried the whole time. I don't remember why but something just hit me like a ton of bricks. I also loved Elder Christofferson's talk. I think he hit a lot of things right on the head. But one of the talks that just hit me hard was Elder Oaks' talk about the 2 lines of revelation. I think I have been putting off a lot of my decisions onto other people and asking for others to make the important decisions in my life. I called President a few weeks ago because we don't have interviews as often as we used to and I was looking for some guidance on school. When we started talking I wanted him to just say, "Well Sister Larsen I feel like you will do this as your profession and so you will need to go home and study this this and this." Well he didn't say any of that. He shared some experiences about how he went to school for 10 years trying to figure out what he wanted to do. Don't worry dad I won't go to school for 10 years. You can breath again. But he talked with me about how you have to seek the Lord's will until you find it. So for the last few weeks I have been seeking for the Lord's will for me. I know that it won't all come at once but it will come as I strive to live a righteous life. I think that has been one of the hardest things on my mission. I want to the Lord to tell me word for word what I should do and say, but He just trusts us that we have tried to seek His word and fill ourselves with the words of the prophets. What we have studied for so long is actually what He wants us to say. I don't know if this is making much sense but things are kinda unfolding still in my head. ha. Brynn asked last week what some of my goals are for the rest of my mission. I am looking at 12 weeks right now and I have set a goal to come home every night just asking to get in bed because I have given my all. I also want to strive everyday to seek the Lord in everything that I do. I always ask the Lord what I should do but I very rarely listen. I always here that one of the things that missionaries are most grateful for is that they learned how the Lord speaks to them while on their missions. Well that is what I want to do. Okay enough of my rambling.

This week was pretty amazing. Agnessa still hasn't smoked. She is still struggling with coffee and she hasn't had anything to drink for almost a week so slowly but surely we are working towards her goal. She is amazing though. She has been out of town but she has spent a lot of her time reading and praying. At night she will call us and say, "Sister Larsen did you know that this scripture was in the Book of Mormon? Isn't it amazing?" She will share her thoughts and she is always right on.

We also have been working with ирина and her daughters and they have decided to get baptized on the 30th of December. We are having so much fun teaching them because they really love the scriptures. Also Jzenya is amazing and always has really deep thoughts for a 15 years old girl. You can tell that they really love the Lord and really want to serve Him.

Well I am going to try and send some pictures but I love you all and I hope that you have an amazing week! Thanks again for everything!

Sister Larsen

Monday, October 4, 2010

Where did Winter come from?

I am so happy to hear from all of you! I think that today I receive a record high number of emails on the mission! Thank you everyone that wrote. I feel so bad that I can't write you all back but know that they were all deeply appreciated!

So first of all CONGRATS mom and Brynn for killing it in the race! I am so proud of both of you!

So to a serious note, please send my love to the Henriksens! I was so sad to hear about what happened! I bet they are so torn up by all of that! Tell them I love them and I am praying for them! They are such an amazing family and I have always loved being around them. I wish I could send my love in another way.

Mom, again congrats! I am so proud of you guys and I had you in my prayers all day. I looked at my clock and I said they are probably getting ready to run right now... they are still running... they should be finishing soon! I was worrying all day about the heat and hoping that it wouldn't rain. I am glad that everything turned out okay and that you feel good about the outcome! I hate that I am starting to want to run one when I get home because that means I might have to run a little. ha. I haven't seen the KSL TV special but I know you don't look 400 years old!! That is not possible!

Dad, I am glad that the surgeries went well! I didn't get the pictures of the girls running but I got all the other ones. Thanks for sending those! They always make me happy. Remember how I keep telling you that I am giving up candy... well it finally happened. I will tell the story later but we have gone a whole week without chocolate:D. Go us! ha. I am sorry that they forgot you. that is a really sad story but I did laugh ha. I hope that never happens again.

Brynn, GO YOU! I am so so so proud of you! I knew you could do it and I had you in my prayers all day on Saturday! I know you would for sure kick my trash in a race. When is the NY marathon? What do you have to do to prepare? I am also glad that you get a little down time. I just had a thought, you said your cooler is really ghetto yeah? Well I think we should paint it and pimp it out so it goes with our style a little? What are your thoughts?

Chase and Ashley, Thanks for the email. Dad sent me a picture of Chase in his scrubs chillin... cute ha. I am so glad that you have such great friends. It sounds like you do a lot together even though you are all so busy. We talked a lot about keeping a balance in all aspects of our lives and it sounds like you guys have got that handled. I am excited for Ashley's family to come out. I bet you guys will all have fun together.

Alright so here is the run down. Winter came out of no where and I have already donned the wool tights and boots... I don't know where fall went. But it is already so cold here. We sang hymns last night on the main street here in center last night and I thought my toes were going to fall off. It was fun though and we mad some good contacts!

So this week has been interesting. I feel like we have been running all over the place but we have had a lot of really great success and fall backs. The mother and daughter are still progressing but they didn't come to church yesterday. Agness (the daughter) had had a really long night and turned her phone off... so when we called to wake her up she wouldn't be disturbed ha. But she was having a hard time with smoking so we made a deal. We would give up chocolate while she gave up smoking. Since then we haven't had any chocolate and she is holding out on smoking. It has been kinda fun though because whenever any of us has a craving we will call or text each other and talk about something random to get our minds off of it. We also check with each other each night and see if we are still going strong. We had a bad day a few days ago and I wanted chocolate so bad but I called her and we held out ha. It has been interesting how excited she has been about it. Right after we had made that decision one of my friends from one of the other wards came up so me and said that she had brought me something. It was my favorite candy bar in super size!! Then every member tried to give us candy with our tea but when we explained they took it and put it in the other room. they are great.

We have seen a lot of little miracles this week with members and families that we have been working with. One family actually came to church yesterday and it was great seeing them all together. They didn't make to sacrament... in fact they were late to Relief society but hey they made it so I give them credit. They loved it and will for sure be there next week. We have a huge meeting set up with the whole family and a member and her daughter next week and I can't wait.

My campanion is doing great too. We have transfers next week but we won't find out until Tuesday what is going to happen. Poor sister Zenger had to swallow her first serving of Liver. I knew what it was but I didn't say anything until we had gotten outside. She doesn't really like to everything but we had talked a little earlier in the week about how we just need to eat what they give us. I asked her how she liked liver and she started coughing. It was pretty funny and I remembered my first time with that. I also found out today that I am finally going to Bulgaria to get a new visa next week. I am not really that excited because I would rather just stay here and work but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Don't kill me this week because it is such a lame letter. But I spent too much time reading this week. I love you all and I hope that you are doing great! I can't wait to see your faces!

Sister Larsen

[Editor's Note: Brooke and her companion were featured as part of the KSL special that aired between Sunday conference broadcasts. It was so fun to see her and hear her voice.)

3 Months and I am not counting!

Hey Hey Hey!!

Thank you for all of the emails. I am always so happy when I get one from each of you. Mom and dad always give me the run down but it is nice to hear how you all are!!! It sounds like you all had tons of fun in Lake Powell and in School. Unfortunately whenever you send the pictures through the silverlight thingy I can't see the pictures. I would have to download a program in order to see them... and I can't really do that. But in small size you all look amazing ha!

Mom, I am so proud of you for finishing strong and for giving your all to get ready for this marathon. Your will power still blows my mind! I can't believe it is so hot down in St. George still. I hope that it cools down. Please drink a ton of water. I hope that everything goes well and that you have fun running together! Hopefully we can all run together next year!

Dad, I hope that everything goes well tomorrow and Wednesday. I will keep a prayer in my heart for ya. I am proud of you for getting up on the ski. Did you show all those boys how it is really done? Did you guys bring the boat back up to SLC? It sounds like you gave those kids a fun time. How was seeing Bishnu? Did he come down to Utah for awhile? How much time did you get to spend with him?

Brynn, Hey it sounds like you are doing a lot better and that you had fun in Powell. I actually was quoting LPAM and AATKA this last week. I told sister Zenger about the mud in my eye story and how the axe murderer was on rampage in Powell. I always laugh when I think of the story. You calling me hook all weekend. I am glad that the Danube and Marge came down with you guys. It sounds like you guys were mom and dad's entertainment.

Chase and Ashley, man it sounds like you guys are busy but loving it. I met someone that had been to where you guys live and they said that they loved it. I am glad that you are liking your classes and teaching. Ash I can just picture you and I bet all of the kids just adore you! I hope you have a better class then ours was with student teachers. Chase at first I thought you were just saying that the class was gross and then I remembered that it is actually the name of the class. I had to laugh at my stupidity for a min.

Jenny, Congrats on getting asked to the dance! I hope that you have an amazing time. My parents said that you will answer Sean.. How are you going to do it? When is the dance? Are you excited? You will have to send me pictures!

So I swear this month has flown by. It has gone by slower than August but I still don't know where the time has gone. I woke up today and realized that October starts this week. Crazy!

Well this week was pretty great. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of success. We have been meeting with this mother and daughter, Tanya and Agnessa. They are great and have been loving everything that we have taught them. They are actually temple referrals and we have been meeting with them since the open house. Tanya is a little more hesitant but Agnessa has already read more then half of the Book of Morman and has a testimony of it. She started reading it from the beginning again because she wants to understand it a little better. These last 2 weeks we have been meeting with them and teaching them a lot about the commandments. This last week we set baptismal dates with them for October 23! They are progressing so well and I feel like Agness has become one of my sisters. She has gone 4 or 5 days with out smoking and now she is trying to stop drinking coffee. She is a trooper and she is doing amazing. We read with them the blessing of the Word of Wisdom and you could tell that she wanted it. They both just soak up as much knowledge as they can. I love teaching them because they really are searching. I will have to take a picture and send it this week.

Also this week we have found a lot of really amazing people that have been to the temple. We had to go to the police station in order to get my phone back... By the way the police found it!!!! yeah!!! But along the way we were able to talk to several people that had been to the temple and it was great because a member was with us and she was able to see that people really are interested. By the end she was doing most of the talking.

Yesterday in church we had a missionary conference. We took the last 2 hours of church and talked about the missionary work in our areas. I had to speak along with one of the elders. Elder Wheiler talked about how we need to work together in order for us to be able to do the work that the Lord has prepared. I know what we all think that missionaries are called to just do the work and we will come to the baptisms but while I have been here I realized that we can't do anything without the help of members. If we just do the work then when we leave so do our converts. But if members bring their friends to church and share with them what has brought them joy, they will accept the Gospel so much better then if a 22 year-old girl from America with broken Russian tries to do the same thing. It means so much more when you hear it from someone you know and trust then from a stranger on the street. I know that we have the Lord on our side and He is always with us so that we can teach His truth but when we are gone these knew members need someone to lean on. In my talk, I talked about how much power members have. They think that what they say doesn't matter. But I know it does. I have watched as member have worked with people for years and finally in the end they are able to help their friends receive the full and ever lasting Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a great conference and the Stake President gave an amazing talk about bringing them to the temple. All in all church was amazing yesterday!

Well I should probably get going but I love you all so so so much! And I hope that everything goes well. Good luck this week in the Marathon! I hope that it cools down for ya.

Sister Larsen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to the Ukraine!

Hey all!

Good morning and thank you for all of the mail! I loved all of the pictures and it looks like you are all having so much fun! I am glad that C-wood killed Murry and that Roy won. Good for Terry. The family looks good and tell them all happy birthday for me and Congrats. I swear you haven't taken much of a break since I left. I feel like you are all just constantly running at high speed. I hope you get to take a little time out in Lake Powell.

Mom, I am so glad that you are doing well and I am so proud of you and Brynn for running 20 miles!! I talked to a member here last night that mentioned that she had fought cancer and we were talking about some of the side effects and everything. She said that it really wasn't too bad but that she just got tired. But it sounds like you are hanging in there! I can't believe that it is already that time again for the race. I am way excited for you guys! I hope you get to find some Mom time in these last 3 days and get some of the stuff done that you wanted.I will for sure tell Svetlana hi for you! That reminds me I need to call her tonight.

Dad, sounds like you gave a really powerful talk. (edit) But I am glad that your talk went well. It sounds like everyone really liked it. How is the working out coming along? I am doing pretty good, minus the candy bars and the cookies that everyone gives us... but I have a new goal. I am afraid to see what Jenny would say to that big dress. It might even be fun to see just a picture of the bad boy again.

Brynn, Hey sis sounds like you are staying pretty busy! It sounds like you need a change of scenery. I know that whenever I am in an area for a long time I get really ready to move just to see something new...............

Chase and Ashley, how is school going for you guys? How are your kids doing Ash? Are they pretty well behaved? You guys will have to let me know. I got the picture of Chase in his scrubs, lookin good!

Jenny, It looks and sounds like you are having a ball and that you are staying pretty busy. I hope that everything is going well and that you are making some good friends. How are you liking American Football? That was always my favorite season! I hope that you are enjoying it and I can't wait to meet you!

Alright so here is a run down on the highlights of this week. It has been another whirlwind week that has flown by! I feel like I just wrote you. So we had a lot of really good meetings this week, zone conference, and a session at the TEMPLE!!! I can't explain how amazing it was, but I guess I will have to try.

We gave up half of our pday in order to take the time to go to the temple on Friday and it was worth a lot more then that. As we sat outside and waited we talked and looked in awe at the amazing building towering above us. The temple president came out and gave us some words of wisdom and some very inspiring thoughts that really helped me to focus on the meaning of the temple as I sat through the session. Also as we dressed and I waited for my companion in the hall I watched all of the workers scurrying around trying to get everything in order but there really was such an amazing feeling because 3 weeks ago there were hordes of people there and now it is a sacred house of the Lord. I cried as I remember the time I had spent there before my mission and I am so thankful for the love that I have for the temple. I think a lot of that comes because of the example of my parents. I realized something that I think is really important this time. These last few weeks I have been really concerned about what I need to do when I get home and as I sat after the session I realized that the Lord will direct us if we really dedicate our lives to Him. I realized that I might be able to do a lot on my own but I can't do what He wants me to do with out him. I loved being there and I don't know when we will get to go back but I hope it will be soon.

Zone conference was also really good. We have moved everything to a monthly schedule and not a transfer schedule so we will only be having zone conference every other month.. bummer. I really love zone conference. But we starting working on part of the training that we got last week. It was really great to practice and get ideas from each other and then we went out and worked. I love this work so much and I am starting to get bugged whenever something like lunch stops me from working... I hope I am not getting too weird. I should probably cool it a little.. ha. But Sister Zenger is doing amazing. She is catching on really fast and she is always so positive. I don't think I have heard her complain once and I have had her running almost all day everyday. It is kinda just how things have worked out, I promise I am not trying to run her out. She is great though and a really good missionary. She has a strong testimony and you can tell that she really wants to work. She is a lot of fun!

So we met with one of our temple referrals this last week and it was pretty amazing. She name is Luvbov, It means love, and she came to church last week. We met with her during the week and she loved every minute of our meeting. It was a lot of fun meeting with her and I think that she will do great. Also another one of our temple referrals stopped drinking coffee and tea after our last meeting and she has really enjoyed the Book of Mormon.

Well I just found out that I am not going to Bulgaria this week I will be going in October so I guess we will see what happens with my visa stuff. But I gotta jet! I love you all so much and I hope that all is well! My prayers are with you!

Sister Larsen

PS. I don't think that Sis. Walker told her mom yet but she said she would today... Thanks for checking on that. And thanks for the box of Reese's bars. Man they were amazing!


Good morning everyone!!

Thank you thank you for all of your emails! I love you all so much and I loved all the emails. I really loved the Farrellisms but I have all of my mail get forwarded to my home email and I guess it didn't make it because of the mouth that grandpa had. Maybe try and avoid sending anymore Farrellisms, or anything like it, because this is a filtered email system and I could lose my email privileges if it keeps happening... but I loved them ha.

Mom, to answer your questions, I was talking with Sister Walker and I think that we might want to live together. Maybe either at that place or maybe at Bellmont. We kinda want our own rooms if that is possible. Mostly we don't really care as long as it is clean and if there is a chance that I will have a car it would be nice to have a parking spot. Maybe talk to her mom and see what you think is best. It might be nice just to lock something down and then not have to worry about it. Thank you for your email. It really was a spiritual pick-me upper. I love reading about how you have come to realize truths about life and about the eternal scheme of things. It helps me to think of things that people really are searching for and helps me to know how to help them. I am glad that everything went well this week and that you are still feeling pretty good. And I am so glad that you are enjoying those little notes. I really hope that they give you just the right amount of energy that you need.

Dad, I loved reading your outline. I don't think that anyone can judge you for saying the truth. They may not like it because they are guilty of it but one thing I have learned is that you have to give them all of the truth and not just the sugar coated part because if you don't give them all the truth then it isn't from God. Also you might want to look at the chapter in "Jesus the Christ" about Apostasy and how a lot of it started from the inside of the church to the outside. I think it is Chapter 40. When I read it I thought about your talk and thought that you might find something that could help. By the way I am glad that there were no injuries at BBall... ha

Brynn, I am so so so happy that your wedding went well. It sounds like it was a killer job. Did you take any pictures? You will have to send some when you get a minute. It sounds like you have been pretty pooped lately. How is getting ready for the marathon. I think that Sister Walker and I are going to try and run with you guys when we get home. Maybe having her in Provo will help me to train a little better ha. What do you have going on this next week? anything new? Tell Jamie-jella-beana that I say hi!

Chase and Ashley, It sounds like you are all doing amazing! I guess you start school this next week! good luck to both of you! It will be so much fun! Mom and Dad said that they got to talk to you on Skype! It sounds like you have had some pretty fun experiences already. I can't wait to hear more about everything. Btw, keep an eye out for a really smart, cute, funny guy... just in case....

Jenny, I was so happy to get your email and to hear all about your experiences this last week. It sounds like everyone is being really nice and that things are going well. I have heard so much about you and wish that we could meet sooner but time will fly. Congrats on being in the school play! That should be a really fun experience for you! The best part about Cottonwood is being involved in as much as you can. That is what will make this experience memorable.

Alright so to answer mom's second question.. I think it would be cool if you used Svetlana's story. She was my first convert and an experience that shaped my whole mission. I couldn't understand a lot but I felt the spirit so so strong and I know that she did too. As she was investigating the church she was embraced by the members and they will never ever let her fall too far away. Maybe you can used part of one of my first letter's about when we gave her the baptismal date and then about when I saw her in the temple with her family during the open house. Or maybe something from this letter.

So this last week has been really interesting. I spent almost all of the week in Borshigovka with Sister Robinson and Murphy as we waited for our companions to arrive and we had training every day from 9-5. It was like a mini MTC and it was amazing! We have started to change the way that we use PMG and I love it! I have been wondering why I have been teaching the way that I have for the last 14 months! We have started a new way of asking questions that really make us listen to the people that we are teaching. In short it just helps us to see the concerns of our investigators that we can know how to really help them rather then just hearing something that we have heard a million times and trying to fix it right at the beginning. The whole training got me pumped and ready to work! It was a really great start to this transfer because as a mission we have receive over 600 referrals from the temple that are not members of our church. Out of the 13,000 people that visited the open house that is a pretty good number of referrals. Our area received the highest number of referrals and of course I haven't been there for about a month. To add to it. Next week I have to go to Bulgaria to renew my Visa! I will be there from Tuesday to Thursday...

So Saturday night we got our new companions. My companion's name is Sister Zenger and she is from St. Louis. Crazy thing is she and her mom have been reading my blog for awhile. It is crazy that my blog is actually being read ha! But she is super cute and so ready to work. I feel bad because she had to sit through 8 hours of church meetings yesterday and I remember how tired you feel after that flight. But her Russian is pretty dang good. She was talking to the members a lot more then I was my first day! She was laughing and having a good time. We also had a really amazing meeting with a member that lives here and her husband lives in Iran. I think she is feeling kinda lonely so we went over and had fun talking with her and playing with her son. They are a really amazing family and I think it was a good first meeting for Sister Zenger. She participated a lot more then I expected her to so I think we will be okay. It is kinda overwhelming a little to think that all of the work is sitting on my shoulders and I am a little stressed. We have a lot of work to do to catch up on all of these referrals and to get things moving with that.

Quick little story because I want to boast to my family. So I got pick-pocketed on the bus and my phone got stolen. The church reported it and the police actually found it so I spent a few hours in the police station trying to file a report. When I first got there the guy didn't believe that I had only been here for a year and couldn't understand why me Russian was so good so he took my passport and started questioning me about where I had been, who I lived with and why I was here. Then he said that no one learns Russian that well and that he didn't believe me. I felt kinda proud of myself, but I know that my Russian still isn't perfect. [Editor's note: Brooke wanted me to leave this out of here post because she didn't want to brag, but as her dad, I will brag for her.]

Well I got to head out. I love you all. Have a great week! Tell the Winder 9th that I say hi and send my love! Sorry I didn't have time to send a note!

Love Sister Larsen

Monday, August 30, 2010

I can't believe the Temple Open House is over!

Good Morning everyone and Welcome Jenny!!

Thank you so much of all of the emails and the pictures. I got all of them! I also received a package from mom a week ago. It had stuff for oreos and such. Thanks a bunch. There was something about gift cards written but we didn't get them. I don't know if you put them in the box or not but they didn't make it. The box didn't look like anyone had gotten into it. I just wanted to check so that if you did send it that we would know for the future. I am glad that all of your week went well. It sounds like you are all so busy and doing well.

Dad, It sounds like you are so tired and that you might have to take some time and teach Jenny how to golf before it gets cold. She might already know but it might be some good R and R with the girls. What is going on in Bermuda? Sounds like you have a crazy few months coming up with work and church. How were the meetings with Elder Hales? That sounds like it was pretty eventful! How is your German? It sounds like you may not need it as much but I bet it is fun to chat every now and then. I am doing good by way of money and I think I should be okay until the end of my mission.

Mom, I am so happy that your first week went well of radiation. And I am glad that you are keeping your running up. You will have to let me know how being back at cottonwood felt. How is your business coming along? Have you had any time to even think about it? I really enjoy hearing about what thoughts you have read ha. Also I saw Carole on Saturday and she gave me a great big hug and said it was from you. We didn't have a lot of time but we talked for a few minutes and she said that you are all doing great. Thanks for doing all that stuff for me for school. I can register here I think I just need to know what day I can register. I think it will be easier because I need really certain classes and I might try and do a double major with Russian, I don't really know yet we will see.

Brynn, I am glad to hear you are staying busy. One thing I have realized is that life never really slows down, we just changed what we are doing a little. I think Larsen's only have one speed and that is busy. It will be fun to have Jenny around, it sounds like you guys have already hit things off! I hope that things get a little better this week and that you can get used to juggling everything. You have always been good at being able to do everything but know that you need to sleep sometime in there as well.

Chase and Ashley, I loved hearing about all of your adventures. I am so so so excited for you and it seems like you are already enjoying the new people and new experiences. It sounds like you are in the perfect place, an hour from the beach, close to your schools and not to far from the temple. I would say you are pretty lucky. I am glad that you have already met so many good people. Chase I completely relate to what you wrote about. I have to say a little prayer when I know that someone knew is coming.

Jenny, Welcome! I am so sad that I wasn't there to welcome you in person but I am sure that the family did a good job of that! I hear that you have had a packed first few days. I promise our lives aren't always crazy. I hope that you have an amazing first day at Cottonwood. I went to that school and loved it! I hope you will have fun there and that you will make some good friends today! Good luck and have fun!

So after 3 really busy weeks we are finally starting to do missionary work again. While we were at the temple we had to be hostesses and not really missionaries. It was hard not to answer every question with my testimony of what I truly believe but we had to answer with straight facts. I don't know if I really succeeded. It is hard to talk about something you love so much with out sharing how much you love it. Well in short it was amazing and I am way tired. It was a different kind of work to stand all day and not teach but now we are in the process of contacting all of those people and meeting with them! So the fun has just started.

In this last week at the temple there were a lot of people! Many of which have family members or friends that are members and are now sincerely interested in learning about the church. Being at the temple open house was amazing and it brought be back to the beginning of my mission. It was amazing to be in that room when people came through after their tours. I saw return missionaries be reunited with converts and old investigators and members reunited with life long friends that they haven't seen in years. It was amazing to see the pride on the members faces and the happiness when they brought their friends and family members. It was great to feel their fire and love for the gospel and for the temple. There is one family that I have been very close to my entire mission from Borshgovka. The mom and her daughter and her daughter's family are all members but the husband is not. The husband lives the laws of the gospel but for some reason will not get baptized. We met with them several times while I was working there and he started to read the Book of Mormon but still had no desire. We talked to him so many times about the blessings of the temple and how families can be together but it seemed like it didn't effect him. Well he went through the temple twice and the last night he decided that he wanted to go through again. His daughter has no idea what has come over him but she said that she feels his heart is softening.

Also my first convert who has completely separated herself from the church came the very last night of the open house. I called her so many times but to be honest I had lost hope in seeing her there. Our last night after our last shift there we went on a tour. At the end of the tour our guide was held up as we were waiting to leave the temple and another group came up behind us. Svetlana came up from the back of the group and gave me the biggest hug. I have never seen her so happy! Her husband was also there and the last thing I had hear was that she had left him and was having serious problems. At the end of the tour I sat with her for a few minutes. She still has a lot of problems and a lot of things to get back into order but she was reminded of that spirit that she felt before her baptism. All of her family that was there felt the power of the spirit and they all expressed desire to return there. I love this work so much and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work along side of the Lord. I know that the temple will bring power to these people and will bring those back that were lost. But we can't let them forget that spirit, we can't lose them.

And finally there was a woman that we had been meeting with for several weeks who when we asked if she wanted to know more about us or our church she said that she believed in God and that was all that she needed so we continued to teach her English with out the spiritual thoughts. On Saturday after our English practice I felt prompted to invite her one last time to the temple. She said that if her plans changed she would come. Well we walked out of the church after our meeting with her and she called and said her plans had changed and she needed directions. We told her how to get there and we were there when she came through at the end of the tour. She said that she loved it and she had no idea that we were Christians! She said that the whole time she was in there she kept thinking, "I have got to talk to my girls about this." She said that next lesson she wants us to start from the beginning and she wants to know more. She also wants to find someone to be sealed to in the temple.

These are just a few of the stories that have happened this past week and I feel so blessed that I have been able to be here to see people feel the Love of Christ in His House. Carole was here and I am so happy that she is writing a story about the temple. She interviewed us about the work and about the people. It was fun to talk to her. We might meet up again this week to do a little more on the missionary work here and the missionaries. She is a really great woman.

As to the Authorities of the church coming, I am not sure. I know that they will be at the cultural even on Saturday and then the dedication on Sunday. I don't think we will have an opportunity to meet them but it will be great to see them on Saturday. Sunday we will be watching the dedication from our church building here in center. We get to watch all 3 sessions, and we actually have transfers this Saturday and I will probably be saying goodbye to cute sister P. She will be heading out to her second area and I will be holding the fort down here in Kyiv. Well I should get going but I love you all so much and I hope that everything is going well!
I love you so so so much! Have a really great week!

Sister Larsen

PS. It is cooler, our fleas are gone and we should be moving tomorrow :D. I think I got all of your questions.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Open House Madness!

Good morning everyone!

Thanks for all the emails! It sounds like everyone is doing really great and that things are still changing. As time is flying by I am starting to get nervous to come home because I feel like there has been a constant change since I left. Not that change is bad, it is just different, and I am excited for all of your adventures.

Dad, Congrats again!!! I am so proud of you! Yesterday we talked about being an honest person in all aspects of our lives and I used you as an example of someone that can go far and can create a reputation for being a trust worthy person. You are truly one of America's Best! That is crazy about the mine being that hot, and I thought it was hot here! I hope that you can always remember your college that gave the Indians a place to go to the bath room and some snacks as they were protesting. That story always makes me smile.

Mom, I am so happy that you got my package. I think that there are now more papers then days but I guess you can figure out how many days you can take out 2 when you really need it. I am glad that the first few days of radiation have gone pretty well. It seems like they are taking really good care of you! That is so crazy that Jenny is already coming this week. I feel like I just found out yesterday that she would be coming.

Brynn, Dang that is a bummer about that one kid but hey things will work out just the way that they should. Don't get discouraged. I hear you have a ton of flowers and work right now. Also Congrats on the 19 miles!!! That is pretty big! When I think about running that much my stomach turns over!

Chase and Ashley, I am glad that you got settled okay and that your ward was pretty welcoming. That is always a good feeling when people notice that you are new and welcome you with a smile. You never know how the members are going to react and you just say a little prayer that they will feel comfortable. I am jealous that you got to go to Kirkland and the Sacred Grove. I have really had the desire to go there since I have been out here. It is so close and we just don't take advantage of it. Keep me updated on what's going on.

So we are one week into the open house with one more week to go. Total so far we have had about 5,000 people that have been through the temple. Many of them have been members but a lot of them have brought their friends. There was a bus that came from Odessa for a day and also from Harkov and Donyetsk. Sister Movchanyuk (My trainer) is here and she will be here until the end of August. It was good to see her, but also weird because she is still Sister Movchanyuk to me.

We have spent most of this past week at the temple again. We usually have 4 sisters there all the time and we trade off but we have been there almost everyday. During the week it is a little slower but Saturday it was pure organized madness. There were 1,700 just Saturday alone. We were able to meet a lot of really interesting people and a lot of people we saw for the second time because they brought their friends and family. We haven't really been able to teach anyone that has been yet but one woman came to church yesterday and really loved it. She couldn't hear a lot but what she did hear she loved. I also have been learning a little Russian Sign Language. We have a family in our ward that is deaf and so we have all been trying to learn so that we can talk to them a little. I was so grateful for the little bit that I have learned because yesterday a group of deaf people came and I was able to talk with them a little. I didn't understand a lot of it but they were very patient with me and we wrote a lot of the time. They were just happy that we were willing to try and talk with them. I hope that we can get in touch with them soon. All of the contact information that we get goes first to the office and then we receive the information in order to contact them if they said that they wanted to be contacted. I am excited to start talking to those people that are ready.

This week has also been really hot here. It has been mostly in the 40's which I know is really really hot. I know in the sun one day someone told me it was 47 but that just seems unreal. I was happy when we were in the air conditioned room in the chapel. I heard that this week it should stay in the 30's and get cooler from here on out. I hope that it does, because most places here don't have air conditioning.

So this next week will be more temple and lucky us we get to look for a new apartment again. We are having some problems with our apartment now and so we have to move. It is not fun looking for apartments while on a mission because first of all it is stressful and second of all we are not natives and so we have all kinds of laws that we have to follow. I don't want to move but it is very necessary. Don't Post This... We got fleas!!! I don't really know how it happened but some how our apartment has been infested with fleas. We had them fumigated this past week and we are now trying to move because I guess our apartment breaks all kinds of rules. We live by the elevator so they think that a few jumped off a dog and into our apartment as we were walking in. It has been pretty bad the last few weeks and I have been covered in bug bites. It was pretty funny through all of it because my companion would always pray for our "friends" to die! Two nights ago we slept for the first night without getting eaten alive and we said, "Sister I can really feel that we are alone, isn't it great?" Then she prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for killing our "friends." I laughed so hard! She is so funny! So yeah that is the biggest reason why we are moving.

Well I should probably get going. Today is not officially our P-day because we were working at the temple but I love you all and I am so happy that all is well. Good luck with everything this week and give Jenny a hug hello for me and wish her luck on her first day of school. I love and miss you so much.

Sister Larsen

My all time favorite scripture is Eccl. 3: 1-8, 11. But my favorite Missionary scripture is Moroni 7:33. I don't know which one they are asking for so I guess you can pick.