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.

It is finally here! The Ukraine Temple

Hey everyone!
It sounds like you all had a pretty emotional week! It sounds like you got Chase and Ashley off on the road and that things are almost in one piece still at the house! I wish there was something more that I could say that would cheer you all up a little. Although it was a hard week it sounds like you had some fun moments in there too!

Mom, I hope that you know that you don't always have to be so strong. You can cry every now and then and no one will hold it against you! It sounds like Ellie got everything that she deserved. I have been telling my English students everything that Ellie does each week and every week they ask about my crazy dogs! I keep hoping that I won't have any stories to tell them but they really enjoy them. but mom, take some time for yourself. I know you have been strong for all of us but maybe let us be strong for you for a little! I sent you a little present that I really hope gets to you soon. It is to help you on the hard days and make the easy days maybe a little easier. It was the only thing that I could I felt like I could do to help so I hope that you find some comfort, inspiration, or laughter in it!

Dad, you are great! I don't know how both of you do it but you both seem to get all the work done and still have so much time to spend with us. I swear there are 2 of each of you! I am trying my best to get everyone baptized here but I keep running into this thing called free will. I guess Heavenly father has a greater plan for all of us that we just have to trust in. I talked with President and he said that if you guys really wanted to come for the dedication you can. He is okay with it but we probably won't be able to meet at all, because whatever the first presidency says goes. Think about it...

Brynn, I am so glad that things are going well and that you are feeling better. I am glad that the weddings went well and that you felt good about all of it. I can't wait to get to work with you again. How has it been working with Carly? Is she a good worker? I am so glad that things aren't awkward with Ben. It sounds like you are both handling it pretty well.

Chase and Ashley, I heard that you guys are writing a blog worth reading! How is the drive going? I am sure you have had a few good laughs and cries by this point. So that I don't cry when things go crazy I always think about the journal entry I can write that night and how my kids are going to react when they read about some of the experiences I have had. I am sure that when everything is said and done you will look back and really laugh!

So I am going to start out by saying that my shifts aren't working really well and my pinkies are starting to hurt so if a letter isn't capitalized don't hate me.

this week has been a really long exciting tiring week. we spent almost all day every day at the temple for VIP and media open houses. It was really interesting to see how the people reacted when they came through at the end of the tours. Our role is to stand in the room at the end of the tour in the chapel with the refreshments. we are not really allowed to teach or to go up to people so we really just kinda stand around and wait for people to ask us questions. we are allowed just to talk to people like normal people ha. We can ask them how the tour was, what they liked and didn't liked. It has been fun because we have been able to answer a lot of questions.

The VIP tours were a little quieter and really nice. There were a few military people that came through and really enjoyed it! Also a judge that is a pretty big deal here came and loved it! She went through with a group and they sat and talked about it for quite a while after the tour ended. I think there were some people from the government and there was a huge group from the media here. All of the general Authorities for the Eastern Europe area were here leading the tours and they answered a lot of the questions on those days. It was a little nerve racking meeting all of the members of the 70 from this area.

On Saturday there were about 1,200 People that came through and loved it. Many people asked when we have meetings and when we can meet with them. I am excited for these next few days to see how many people come and to see what there reactions are. We did have a few protesters of course but they haven't been much of a disturbance. They have their right to say what they think just as well as we do. They have been pretty quiet and nice about it. I respect them a lot for not being rude and mean.

This next week we will be in our area a little more which will be nice since we didn't really have very many meetings last week. We will be at the temple almost every day but not all day. I hope that we get to get more meetings in. We met with Liliya this week and she doesn't seem to scared to try again. To be honest I think she forgot all about it! It will be interesting to meet with her this week and talk about going for it again. Galina hasn't been seen or heard from since a few weeks ago. I think she has been drunk since that day. It is so sad but I hope that some day her time will come because she really knows it is true.

Well my time is almost up. I love you all so much and i hope that all goes well this week. Mom good luck with radiation. Know that our prayers are with you! I love you all and miss you so much!

Sister Larsen

August is here and the Temple is done!

Hey family!

I am so happy that Mom doesn't have to have Chemo!!!! I already thought that it was for sure that it wasn't going to happen so I was already not worried about it but still happy to hear! Second, I can't believe that it is already August! It feels like time is flying by! I also got an email from Carole Makita and I emailed her back. Also I talked with the office about doing the interview and they asked if I would feel comfortable doing that so I think they also got an email from her! She should be here on the 20-30th of August so she will be at the end of the open house and get some of the reactions after the temple is already open and working!

Mom, Again I am so so so happy for you and I wish you the very best this week as you start Radiation! I hope that you don't get to tired and that everything goes really well! I am happy that you got to go for a long run even though you were pretty tired! It sounds like you are getting back to your old self and that life is still crazy! I hope that this morning you will get to take a few minutes and get some rest before this week comes again. By the way that dad explained it, it sounds like you have another packed week ahead!

Dad, I am glad to hear that surgery went well and that everything good and healthy. It sounds like you have a lot of really big cases that take a lot of time too! Also that is way cool about the concert in Deer Valley. It sounds like PBL has changed a lot thanks to the good lawyers there! I bet it was great to get to sit so close to the first presidency! Good luck this week with all of your depositions, work and more work! Yes I got the card to work and I am doing good money wise.

Brynn, I am glad that you had such a great week! It sounds like the flowers are keeping you really busy! That is crazy that Chelsea is getting married! You will have to tell her congrats and hi from me! I want to see pictures of all of these weddings. I am glad that your flirting is getting better! I might need the help when I get home. I haven't even tried in so long that I don't think I even know how. Whenever a guy talks to me I just look straight ahead or I start to feel really awkward and just give them the elders' number and run away haha. It should be interesting in a few months ha. I have gotten back to my sleep pattern for the most part and I hope that you have too! Getting so tired that you can't keep your eyes open really helps.

Chase and Ashley, This is your big week! The move is coming so fast! I can't even believe that summer is almost over! What day does school start for both of you? How was the BBQ yesterday? You guys are gonna have so much fun! Enjoy every minute of it because you are never going to be at this point of your lives again.

So this week has been very fun and very eventful. We were working at the temple all day on Saturday and I can't believe that it really is done! We had a training for all of those leading the tours and how we need to answer questions. The Open house will be different from the ones that I have been too in Utah. Normally in Utah we watched a movie and then we just kinda walked through the temple in one huge line. Here they have set it up so that you are in groups of about 15 or less with tour guides that explain a little about the rooms. All of the guides are members and it is usually in Ukrainian. We (Sisters) are stationed at the table of books in the concessions room. We stand at this table and answer questions once the tours end.

Saturday was for all of the workers and their families that have been working on the temple the last 3 years. It was interesting because we had about 200 people that came and a lot of them were families! Most of the if not all came very nicely dressed, in slacks and the women were in dresses for the most part! I was really surprised that they had noticed the way that we dressed and they tried to dress like us! It was really great! We answered a lot of questions and a lot of people really enjoyed the tours, the temple and a lot asked for Copies of the Book of Mormon! I think we gave out more of them then anything else! It was great! As the night slowed down one of the couple missionaries told us that we should go through with one of the last tours so we did! We got to see the whole temple and it is absolutely amazing! It really is the Ukraine Kiev Temple! Even though it wasn't dedicated you really could feel the spirit so strongly. These members have waited for so long and to see them just stand it awe at the base reminded me that the Lord really does provide for His saints!

This next we we don't really know how much we will be at the temple. It really depends on the members and how much they can be there. This week we have an open house for the neighbors of the temple, the media and for those from the Government and dignitaries. It should be interesting to see who comes and to see the reactions of this first group of visitors. I don't know how you could leave that place with a bad feeling even if you tried so I think it will go well!

This week we were really trying to work with the members and those who are less active to help them to come and to bring their friends. We have also started a new schedule where we are out at 8:00 in the mornings and then we come back to do study in the late morning/ afternoon. It has been interesting because we can't find anyone that wants to meet us that early so we spend a lot of our mornings contacting around the metros and walking around the city. We have definitely learned the city a lot better!

Well we should probably get going! Sorry I forgot to get a picture of the temple this week but I will for sure send some next week! I am glad that everyone is doing well. I love you and miss you!

Love, Sister Larsen