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