Monday, February 22, 2010

The Sun is Finally Shinning

Good Morning everyone!!!

I can't explain to you what a beautiful day it is today. We woke up in our new apartment with the sun shinning in our windows! I almost forgot that you could see the sun that early! Thank you for all the emails! It sounds like all is well with the Larsen crew this week. And I want you all to know that I am starting the count down to my birthday in my journal on the 20th day of February. I think it is the latest I have ever started on my count downs haha.

Mom, I am proud of you for getting things moving. So many sisters here want to see some of the ideas that you all come up with. I know you guys will do an amazing job! I know that I am looking forward to being your Guinea pig. If I can, I would make one suggestion. Pockets on skirts would be one of the greatest things because we have cell phones and it is annoying to always have it in your bag. Just a thought. I am glad that you have enjoyed the Book of Mormon facts! I love getting that kind of stuff. It is so interesting to think about all of the things that are in the Book of Mormon from different perspectives. That is funny about the dinner. I wish I could have seen the counter with just hamburgers haha. I love it! That is also way cool about all of the LDS athletes! I love that they are showing a good side of the church!

Dad, thank you for not getting hurt this week. It brings peace to my soul haha. It sounds like you have a stressful next few weeks coming up. I hope that everything goes okay and that you remember that you are super dad so you can do anything! I hope that you find some time to go down to Powell and get some fishing in before things get to crazy. It seems like that season should be coming up soon!

Brynnie! I am glad that you had a good week. I sounds like you are less stressed and that makes me happy. I can tell a lot about how you are feeling from your letters, I like it because I feel like we are really talking too. I am excited for you to go on splits sometime with the missionaries. You will have to let me know how that goes. I know that they would love it if you just offered to go one night. Also why was johnny wearing a corset? Is that really needed? haha I laughed so hard when I read that... And really long nails... foo.

Chase and Ashley, I can't believe you are getting ready to be a little graduate! Remember when you told me that when I got my license we would have flying cars. I don't know why I just remembered that but it made me laugh because that was a few years ago and we still don't have flying cars. But I can't believe that you are graduating! I wish we could all graduate together. I think you should both just stay there for another 1 1/2... just a thought. Well I hope that school is going well and that married life is treating you well. Oh I just got an email from Alyse and she got engaged on V-day! you will have to give her a hug and tell her congrats for me!

So it has been a crazy week. On Monday we spent all day looking at apartments with our poor Zone leaders. The mission has a rule that our leaders have to approve apartments before we can give a final word. So they agreed to come and look with us so that we could just sign when we found one. Around lunch time we were in a mall sort of a thing making phone calls and Elder Bowen said, hey that guy has a nice watch he has to know someone... he went up to about 3 people like that asking if they had any connections. Well to make a long story short, by the end on Monday we hadn't found one, we were soaking wet and freezing because it had snowed all day, and our agent's car broke down and he had to take a marshutka home. We ran home to hurry and pack a bag and change to go to the train station. We broke our tub the day before so we couldn't shower and we didn't have time to eat dinner. We met the other sisters at the station and we ate McDonald's on the train. The ride wasn't bad and I think that was the best I have slept on a train.

Sisters conference was great! President and Sister Steinagel talked to us about how virtue is power. It was really interesting. We also learned a lot about the culture of Ukraine and we even got to try and play one of their traditional instruments :D. We finished up and had lunch and we went to Romeo and Juliet, the ballet! It was great! After the play we hurried to the train station and caught an old Soviet train back. It was a little creepy because the train was really old but it was also really fun. I felt like I was really in Ukraine ha. I loved it. Also throughout the day we were calling agents and still struggling with the apartment thing. The poor Elders looked at apartments for us all day.

We got back in the morning and the Elders had some good news for us at district meeting. We were going to meet our landlord that we really really wanted to sign on Monday. She had convinced her husband to work with our contract! We signed and got all moved in on Wednesday! The Elders also had an opportunity to work with our agent a little bit and teach him some doctrine.

Thursday we met with Ulya. She is the girl that came to church last week. She told us that she started reading the Book of Mormon and she said that she felt so much light and so many good feelings! She said that she went with on of her friends to an Orthodox church and she felt that light leave. She feels so good and church and we were really excited that we had found someone that the Lord had so well prepared. Then she told us that she was moving the next day back to her village 5 hours away. The church isn't in her area yet and our hearts broke. She started crying and she explained that she was living with people that she just could not stand to live with anymore. They were so rude to her and they were drunk a lot of the time and she just couldn't deal with it anymore. She said that she is going to try and move back and find a job but we all agreed that this was probably the best thing for her right now. We are just going to try and talk to her over the phone and stay in touch with her.

These last few days we have spent teaching less actives and trying to find new people to teach. We also spent a lot of time getting lost. It is a smaller city but it is still really, really big. It is a really beautiful city. Center is really pretty and the areas that I am working in are close. I am really close to the sea and you can actually see it from our window I heard... We still haven't seen it because it is foggy (we hear a fog horn every morning, It's cool!) There are more brothers here then there were in Kiev, but there aren't very many.

There were also 2 baptisms and our agent that helped us find our apartment came!!! It was really cool. Yesterday we sang at the baptism and the man told how the elders knocked on his door and his entire life changed from that day on! It was a really cool baptism.

My companion is great. She is from Tacoma, Washington. She lived here teaching English before she decided to come on a mission. She will go home in August so she will probably finish here. She is super nice and we get along very, very well. We laugh a lot while we are on the street. She is just a very loving, tender hearted girl. I have already learned a lot from her.

Well I think this is the longest letter I have ever written and my stomach is eating itself. We are going to try and make it to the beach sometime today... I don't know it might have to wait until next week. But I love you all! I am glad things are going well and I am praying for you all the time! Good luck this week!

Sister Larsen

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Good Morning and Happy Late Valentine's day!!

Thanks for all of the emails and love! This week started to warm up but the snow is back...

Dad, Seriously you need to be careful!!!! You are making me nervous with all of your stories lately! Please Please take care of yourself! It sounds like you had a very eventful week and I am super sorry. But it sounded like it ended on a good note with a few rounds of golf. I am glad you are doing better and I hope that this next week looks a little better for you.

Mom, good luck with all of your decisions. It sounds like you and Brynn both have a lot of changes ahead. I hope that everything works out for you and you are in my prayers. Sister Mov always used to say in lessons that when we want to talk to the Lord we go to our knees and when we want to listen to the Lord we open our scriptures. That doesn't always work for me but I thought it was pretty good advice.

Brynn, I am actually dying right now because I really want to see a picture of that dessert!!! It is almost driving me to the point of crazy.... crazy I'm not crazy.... haha. I am glad that you had a great Valentine's day! It sounds like you did a very good job planning a great day! You have taken some serious steps from when you kept asking me how to flirt. I would bet my life savings (which isn't very much) that you are way better than me now! It is probably better that way. Honestly, I am starting to get a little weird. I feel so awkward talking to guys my age that I can't really act normal. It is the weirdest thing!!

Chase and Ashley, Sounds like you also have a pretty eventful week! You can count on me coming to visit where ever you end up! I think you will have an amazing experience anywhere! Boston will be lucky to have you! Also congrats on your headboard. It sounds like you turned out to be a pretty good craftsman.

So we totally forgot that it was Valentine's day yesterday!! Everyone here buys flowers all the time so it was normal to see men carrying flowers home. We realized as we were on a bus home. It made for an interesting conversation as we asked a couple how you say Happy Valentine's day. Here they congratulate you on holidays and for being born, it is pretty cool haha. The couple thought it was funny that we couldn't figure it out on our own and it made for a good conversation and contact. I don't think every much will come of it but we made them smile so we felt good after. haha.

Well, we had a few days of sun and a lot of slush as the snow started to melt but the snow is back. It is snowing pretty good right now. We spent a big chuck of our week last week searching for a new apartment. We have almost closed on two but then we figured out that our agent didn't tell them about some of our requirements and the landlord wouldn't do it. We are very close to being homeless right now so hopefully we can find something today. It has given us an opportunity to find some new people that could be investigators but we will have to see how that all works out with time.

We haven't really had a lot of meetings set up because sisters weren't really working in this area last transfer, so we have been trying to meet with members and get referrals from them. Sister Walker and her companion are working in the center area of Odessa and we are along the coast and to the south of them. We have a huge area and it is hard to remember where everything is, but we are slowly getting the hang of it. It has been fun because we have really had to do everything by ourselves. We have called the elders and some members a few times when we have gotten lost but it has been mostly on us. I have enjoyed it a lot actually because I feel more responsibility and I know that I can handle it. My Russian has also improved but I think that my confidence has improved more. I have realized that I just need to speak and then we can figure out together when I am trying to say haha. Everyone is very patient!

Yesterday a girl came to church. She hasn't been meeting with missionaries lately but she is amazing. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and she came to all of church yesterday. She asked to take home the gospel principles book and she was answering and participating in every hour of church. She is a teacher for Ukrainian Lit. and she is really smart. We have an appointment to meet with her this next week and I am super excited!

Also tonight we are heading back up to Kiev for a sister's conference tomorrow and then we will be back in Odessa on Wednesday morning. I am not really excited for 2 nights on a train but I am really excited for the conference and hopefully I will be able to get my mail!! We also get to go to a ballet tomorrow night with President and Sister Steinagel!!! They are awesome and I seriously can't wait!

Well we have to go but I love you all and I hope you all had an amazing Valentine's day.

Love, Sister Larsen:D

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brooke's new email

Editor's note: slight change to Brooke's email address. It is now

Odessa on the Black Sea is my new home!

Hey family!

Sorry that I am late. We had Zone conference yesterday and we moved our p-day to today. I definitely felt the love as I opened my almost completely full mailbox today! Thank you for all of the emails and love! I am going to let you think a little longer until I tell you exactly where I am...

Dad, I got all of your emails this week and the one for last week. I was a little worried about you all week and I am glad that everything is okay! Please take care of yourself!! I worry about all of you over here! It sounds like you also had some long over due R and R.

Mom, I am glad that the dogs have made you relax a little:D It is good every now and then. It sounds like some how you are still managing to find things to do even when you are at home. The mission is providing us with Co2 monitors so don't worry about us.

Brynn, I have really learned that when you are reading and searching not only the scriptures but talks from the prophets you can really learn a lot. Each of us feels the spirit so differently but there is a talk from last general conference that talks about receiving answers. He said that there are three ways, we will receive peace to our minds, we will have a stupor of thought, and last sometimes the Lord leaves it up to us to decide because he trust us and knows that we will make the right decisions, and we need to just make the decision and present it before God. Good luck with everything. I will pray for you.

Chase and Ash, Thanks for the email! It sounds like you have a nice relaxing Valentine's celebration! I am glad that everything is going well and I hope that Ash has her first good experience teaching! Good luck! I am proud of all of your accomplishments! Way to find a new hidden talent with these bed boards!

So I am in Odessa! My new companion is Sister Ethington. She is from Washington State and she has been in Ukraine for about 7 months and she will go home in August. She is a very, very cool girl. We had a fun train ride down here. We had 6 suitcases in this tiny train compartment and it was really funny to watch us try and get situated with everything. We have been whitewashed into this area. (Editor's note: "whitewashed" is missionary slang, I think, for assigned as a new pair of missionaries to a new area where neither has any experience in the area). Sister Walker was working in Odessa but she was working in Center because we didn't have enough sisters to work in all of the areas. Right now we have 3 investigators that they have continued to work with so we have a lot of work to do to get things going in this new area of Odessa.

It was really hard to leave my old area. I will miss a lot of the members there! They are so amazing! I will especially miss the women that I was able to work with and teach. It was hard to leave my recent converts and investigators because I will always worry about them. They are so great and I really want them all to come to know the truth with their whole hearts.

We arrived Friday morning and we realized that our apartment is about 30 mins outside of our area so we will have to try to find a new apartment this week, which should be interesting because neither of us know the words for that. We planned and then had a few meetings on Friday with one of our investigators and some members. We are covering 3 areas and one of them is about 1 1/2 hours away. We are working in черьемишки ильичевск and таирова. We went to 2 of the branches last week and they were a little standoff-ish but hopefully we will have a chance to get to know them a little this week and we can really try and help them. The area is huge but it is a beautiful city. We are very close to the coast although I haven't seen it yet.

Well, I should probably get going. We have to set up these new email things. I am really, really far from the mission office so I will only get mail once or twice a transfer... But thank you for everything. I will be back in Kiev next week for a sister conference and then back here. Well I love you all! Have an amazing Valentine's Day!

Sister Larsen

Monday, February 1, 2010

I am getting transfered this week!!!

Good morning everyone!

Dad, Hey I heard that you had a little accident.. are you okay? Chase said that you might have broken your arm? I hope that everything is okay and that you didn't get hurt too bad.

Mom, It sounds like you had a very scary week. I have realized something here, that the Lord prompts us in a way that we will hear. If all we need is a causal thought then that is what He will give us. If we need a voice shouting in our ear that that is what we will get.

Brynn, .....

Chase and Ashley, Congrats on getting into Tuffs!! That would be a way fun place to live and whenever I have money I promise to come and visit you where ever you end up! Thanks for the emails and for filling in some of the blanks! Sounds like you are both very busy, and like your little headboard business is about to take off ha. Thanks for the updates on everyone too.

I just heard about those missionaries and that is so sad!! I can't believe that they died. I wonder if I knew either of them? They didn't say their names.

So, I really can't believe that it is already February and that I have been here for 4 whole months and on my mission for almost 7!!! It feels like I just left home but it also feels like the MTC was another lifetime ago. So this week has been one of the coldest weeks I have ever felt in my entire life but I am very grateful that I wasn't in Moscow because it was -50 there from what I heard. It has finally reached above 0 but I am not sure how long that will last. Today is a toasty 5 degrees and I am loving life!

We got transfer info on Saturday night and I am headed to a new adventure in a new area. I am so excited! They only tell us that we are leaving but we don't find out where or who we will be with until Thursday at transfer meeting. I am 100% sure that I am going to Odessa though and I think that I will be either with Sister Ethington or Sister Walker. Both are great and I will be lucky to serve with either of them.

This week has been a little bitter sweet because I really really love this area, and these people here. After each lesson I just think only one more week with them. Yesterday was really sad because I had to say good-bye to the ward. They are amazing. If you took off the roof you would just think that it is any other ward in America but when you talk to the people you learn of their stories and all I can say is I love this ward. A lot of them told me that if I didn't bring you all that they would be very mad at me and never talk to me again. They really want to meet you all! Man, I love them. haha. Sister Movchanyuk went and told the Bishop that I needed to share my testimony so I was crying knowing that I would have to say goodbye and then had to get up and speak in Russian. Russian with an American accent and serious tears is a bad combo.

This week we have a lot of meetings to say goodbye and try and get those few people that are close to baptism to give them a final shove. We have started preparing our recent converts for the temple next year and I am happy that I might still be here for some of them. Then on Thursday I will spend the day waiting to get on a train. The trains here are nice. There are just four beds in a room. The ones that we ride on there aren't any chairs they are just made to sleep on. They are very hard to sleep on though because it stops a lot throughout the night and yeah it is a train. But we will get there on Friday and get to work.

Well I should get going but I love you all and I hope that you have an amazing week. Sorry if this letter was a little dull.. Next week will be a little more exciting, I hope!

love, Sister Larsen