Monday, December 3, 2012

The Binky Tree - When a child gets old enough that the decide to give up their pacifier, they come with their mom and dad and tie it to the branches of this tree in the park. I've even seen children wave goodbye to them as they walk away.

Sister Johnson and me on that hill shaped like a giant. Guess where we're standing.

Me on the hand. It really was a cool hill.

 All around Odense are statues based on H. C. Andersen's stories. This one is just so well done.


Week 33

Kære Alle Sammen,

Some of you have heard by now, but I will be coming back home on Friday on temporary medical release. 

Let me explain. No. There's too much. Let me sum up.

It's no secret that I've been sick lately. I've talked with a bunch of doctors over here and gotten a bunch of different tests and diagnoses too, but my Danish doctor and the Mission Doctor in Germany have no idea what it is. We've been able to work half days, but that's still just frustrating. It's been going on for about 7 weeks now, and the Mission Presidency decided last Thursday to offer me this temporary medical release to go home and get the problem fixed, then reapply and hopefully come back to Denmark. This decision was only reached after a lot of prayer and after trying all we could here, and I feel like it's the right course of action. Whatever happens though, I've definitely felt the peace of the Lord in in. Even if we have no clue what's going on, He has a plan. 

Back to the important stuff.

Je blessed the sacrament yesterday. That was ... amazing beyond description. He was really nervous, but he did a great job. The ward now has 3 young men involved in blessing and passing the sacrament, which is more than I've seen in any other ward here. Two of them are converts. We've really been blessed.

Do you remember the story of Je's dad, Ku, and how he was so opposed to Je being baptized that he stopped Je's first baptismal date from happening? Since the baptism he's been giving poor Je hell. He still thinks that it's not possible to really be a Dane and a Man without the drinking and swaggering pride. Je's holding fast though, and he has his step mom, step sister, and half sister who are all members supporting him. Hopefully Ku doesn't get to Da though, Je's step brother. He's been taught on and off by the Sisters here for a while. He comes to church and everything, but doesn't really have that desire to get a testimony for himself. Weirdly enough, Ku also comes to church most Sundays. There's hope for him yet though. Yesterday the bishop announced the news of my temporary medical release and went through all the parts of a normal farewell -- including having me share my rather teary testimony (not fair! The Priesthood choir had just sung a really touching rendition of "Praise to the Man", and that song always gets me) and having everyone sing "God Be With You 'til We Meet Again" at the close of the meeting. "I'm not dead yet!" After Sacrament Meeting though, Ku came up to shake my hand. He actually seemed really sad. His eyes were even a bit misty. I've never seen him show any emotion like that. He said I fit in in Denmark, and that they'd miss me. Okay, for ANYTHING to be remotely Danish makes it automatically divine in his eyes. That might have been the biggest compliment I've ever gotten in my entire life. I'll miss him and his family too though. He really is a good man with a heart of gold beneath the scruffy Viking exterior.

On Wednesday we had a really touching experience with Ol too. You know how much I love that guy. We'd planned to meet up for a lesson, but there was a miscommunication somehow and it didn't end up happening. When we texted Ol, he said he was too depressed to schedule another appointment right then. We were a bit freaked out. That's not at all like him. We apologized with everything we had, but he reassured us that it wasn't our fault in any way. He wasn't sad about the meeting. You all know Ol is crazy, right? Like how he biked from Aarhus to Copenhagen? He's also run in the New York and Boston marathons and LOVES running. The Berlin Marathon was this weekend, and he had been training up to go to it for 3 years, and had plans to go with 2 of his friends. He's been super excited for it. However, he injured his hip a few months ago, and his trainer and doctor told him it wasn't strong enough yet, and he couldn't run in the race. He was crushed, of course. We were at the train station to catch a train to Aarhus, but he really wanted to see us before we left. He rushed all the way to the station to catch us before the train. I just wanted to hug him when he got there! Poor guy. Apparently, he's been in a lot of pain for the last few weeks and just didn't want to tell anyone. We chatted for a little bit, and he brought us a gift he'd been planning on bringing to our appointment. He remembered that we said we liked Harry Potter, so he gave each of us a children's fantasy book he'd found. Seriously, Ol is the sweetest guy. We said a prayer with him right there on the platform before the train left and you know what? I don't know if I've ever felt the Spirit stronger with Ol than on that noisy platform. He also said he would love to get a Priesthood blessing, so we've worked that out for Wednesday. It'll be sad to say goodbye to him. 

This is all so surreal, but ... I guess I'll see you guys soon!

Jeg elsker jer!
Søster Morse

Mom - I just responded to your e-mail, but if you have any more questions, you can also e-mail the mission office at . They'll be able to answer you sooner. I love you!

Dad - How funny is it that we just barely miss each other? Don't worry about it though. I'll see you guys when you get back. Thank you so much for your e-mail. You were the first person I got to talk to after getting the news (besides my companion and the Elders who were with us at the time), so I'm sorry I was so emotional. You know exactly how it is though, and how much you come to love every part of your mission. Thank you so so so much for your words of comfort. And yes, Gloria's sounds perfect, but only if you think you'll be able to go back to American Italian food so soon after the real thing. I love you.

Katie - Have fun in Italy! That sounds stupid. Who needs to be told to have fun in Italy? Anyway, you'll have loads of fun. I can't wait to hear all your stories when you get back. The tables have turned! Now I'll be the one waiting for YOU to get home from Europe!

William - Everyone else will be in Europe or back at work, so plan on spending a loooooooot of quality time with your favorite big sister. Just a heads up.

Supreme Mugwump - Yeah, I definitely need to send your package now, huh. I've also got a letter for you. And none of this news should come as a surprise to you, but thanks for your encouragement through it all. I'll write you even more while I'm State side. Promise.

Week 32

Kære Alle Sammen,

Wow. Søster Moore and I were just giddy during sacrament meeting yesterday.
We just got back from lunch with the Elders and the Senior Couple in Odense. It was the Senior Couple's last P-Day here before going home, so we celebrated with pizza at Mama's Cafe. They were joking that it was just like a family. In a weird way, it kind of was. We were cheering Ældste Sorensen on to finish his whole pizza. Elder Pitts was just teasing us. When Søster Moore asked what he ordered he answered, "It's looks really good! I'm excited. It's this thing that looks like bread dough, but it's not. It's called pizza dough. And then they put a sauce made out of tomato stuff on it ..." and had to wait until the very end to hear the toppings. Meanwhile Ældste and Søster Olsen were telling us stories making sure Søster Moore and Ældste Pitts didn't set anything on fire while playing with the candles on the table. Yep. Just like home.
Søster Moore has been Eurofying her wardrobe for when she goes home in December (at her parents' orders), so last P-Day was our big shopping adventure. I get to be her personal stylist and explain how it all works. Mom, I know I rebelled against all of your advice, but I DID listen. Thank you for not giving up on me. I may not care about mixing summer and winter fabrics, but at least my companion knows about it now.
On Friday we met with Ol in a cafe for hot chocolate. He just wanted some help practicing English for his American Studies class, so we hid from the rain and just chatted about American culture. There are so many things we do that I never thought were weird. For example, Ol ran the Boston Marathon a few years ago and while he was leaving the hotel a sweet old guy patted his shoulder and said, "You know, you look like you could win it!" That totally freaked Ol out. He still remembers it. His response was , "Are you kidding me?! I'm way to white!" He just didn't get why some random guy was being so personal. And optimistic. Danes a such realists. And I never realized just how loudly we talk. It's true though. It was a wonderful experience though, being able to sit and talk about books and movies and just get to know Ol like a normal person. Regardless of where he ends up gospel-wise, we're so being friends post-mission. I love that guy.
This is totally random, but I also love the ward here. Søster Johnson knew everyone and all of their family across Denmark after 10 months here, so it was mostly just following her lead. With Søster Moore though we've gotten to know them all more personally, and they're all so great. There's an older lady in the ward with Alzheimer's who always flirts with Ældste Sorensen. It's hilarious. Every time she sees him she leans over and whispers to me (just loud enough for him to hear, "Er han ikke en flot fyr?" ("Isn't he a good-looking man?")
We had Mutual with the Young Women this week, which was also just a blast. Our ward has the best Unge Piger nogensinde! We also got a call about 45 minutes before church started, asking if we'd teach the lesson in the 14-16 year-old class about 3 Nephi 1-7. Fantastic. Søster Moore stressed a bit, but it actually turned out really well. We just have the best ward in all of Denmark. No contest.
Jeg elsker jer!
Photos: Danish kroner!

Mom - Don't worry too much about me being sick. It's just a mystery thing, and we've been able to work a lot of half days, so I still feel like I can kind of be a missionary! I know you've had that package waiting for ages, but would you mind waiting just one more week? Hopefully by then the doctor will know exactly what it is, and I might need you to send me some *ahem* "American candy" to treat it. ;) Highland sounds absolutely beautiful right now. I love the land and climate here, but I do miss the mountains some times. They're just so majestic! Thanks for the 3 p's. I'm going to have to put those up in my apartment somewhere!
Katie - I can't believe your Italian trip is so soon!! Send me a postcard or something! And that's so cool that Madame is having twins!!! Poor AP student though. That'd be hard - teaching a high school French class while you're only in high school yourself. Still, that's awesome!
William - Don't ask how I know about it, but you should watch the VGHS (Video Game High School) series on Youtube. I saw the first episode at a member's and it reminded me so much of you.
Greg - Have you taken the ATV up in the mountains for fall yet? Next time you do, will you send me pictures?
Dad - Sorry to hear everyone's been sick. I didn't know you lived in Brigham City, actually, but that's really cool that they've finished another temple. I've always loved them, even more so after going through for myself, but after being here I think I'm just beginning to understand what it's all about. And thank you for the quote from the church in Stanford. I've never heard that before, but it's so true. I can't tell you how many times we ask people during contacting, "Do you believe in God?" only to have them answer, "Not really. I believe in science". It seems like only half an answer. As it said, no widening of physical understanding can compensate for the narrowing of the human soul. That's the norm here, but there are also so many people who do believe and have an open horizon, but no destination. Enter the missionaries. :) Have fun in Italy! It must be beautiful at this time of year. I'm almost jealous, but let's face it. Nothing beats Denmark. You know what I mean. Denmark ftw!
Søst T - Thanks for the super cute card! You're my muse. You've inspired me to get a coloring book. I'll write back soon! Oh, and I got more of those pony cards. None were quite as funny as your pack. I think you guys got the winner.
Sost A - So I blatantly plagiarized your e-mail from a couple weeks ago and e-mailed the photos of the money to my parents. 1. Because I don't want to take the photos myself. 2. Because yours look awesome. 3. Let's face it, when am I ever going to get my hands on a 500 kroner bill? I'll send some photos of the coins though, and you can steal those if you want. Fair trade?
Supreme Mugwump - Okay, I PROMISE I'll get the year mark package off soon. I'm finishing up the last gift as we speak. ... As I type. How are you settling into Bellevue? Say hi to Hna Weagle for me! Have you been able to see the photos I sent you on Google+?

Monday, September 17, 2012

September Issue of the Denmark Mission Newsletter

Here is the link to the September issue of the Denmark Mission Newsletter.

Week 31

Kære Alle Sammen,
This week has been really slow, actually. We've been stuck inside because, wonder of wonders, I'm sick. Again. Seriously. An awesome member (the wife of the man who plopped the helmet on my head when he saw I was riding home without one) is a nurse at a clinic here, and she set us up with one of her doctors here. We're starting to get the hang of the socialist medicine system, and this new doctor has taken a personal interest in the missionaries. He's the most clinical, stern person I've ever met, but that's exactly what we need after other doctors who literally told me, "That's not my problem." Sigh.
Half the mission is in mourning after BYU's loss to the U. Elder Sorensen told me all about it at church yesterday, and Mom added a few details in her e-mail. Seriously? It bounced off the upright?! That was so sad. Our bishop is a BYU fan, so he was a bit sad too. Half way around the world, and the BYU/Utah game is still big emotional news. Wow.
Mom, Dad, you two are absolutely brilliant. Psychic too. It's scary. Both of you shared your own spritiual thoughts about pressing forward in faith and turning your life over to the Lord. That's something I've really gained an appreciation for as a missionary. That, and that the Lord blesses us for our faith and our efforts, not for what we think we accomplished. He has a plan and it's His work that we're all engaged in in some way or another. He only asks for us to  I won't go into detail, but that's something I've really been thinking about lately. You two are the answers to prayers, seriously. Thank you for all of the encouragement and uplifting thoughts you send. They really are appreciated.
I just have to share the quotes you two sent. They're wonderful.
“God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future--to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities. God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe.” -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life." -- Ezra Taft Benson
Jeg elsker jer!
Photo: Us at Burger King after Zone Conference. We got kids meals. And the glasses glow in the dark!
Mom - Yes, Denmark does have a seasonal autumn. It's beautiful! To get to church we cut behind a cathedral and through a park full of aspens. It's absolutely breathtaking right now, all the fallen golden leaves. There's a WWII memorial statue there too, which only adds to it all. Autumn up in the mountains and canyons though is beyond compare. That's so cool that you got to go up to that conference. That must have almost been like a vacation! I LOVE the quote you sent me. Thanks. And I loved your math comment too. I totally agree. There's a reason God only gave us ten fingers and ten toes. That's all we need. As for the package, you might want to hold off just a bit on sending it. I'll get back to you next week. And thanks again for the guitar music!
Katie - Hearing about your AP History test subjects makes me miss history so much.
Dad - Thank you. I love you guys too. It's so true about the Lord being able to make more of our lives than we ever could. I'm sorry you had to come home to BYU losing, after jetsetting around to the conferences. That's a great welcome home gift.
Supreme Mugwump - That's so cool about Eliza!!! And that you got to go! What a miracle. Give Hna Weagle a giant hug for me. She sounds amazing. I love her already for taking such good care of you. And that dog bite is crazy. I'm just so glad it wasn't worse. Good luck with the sore and the mystery bottle. Blegh. I'm sooo glad you got the last piece of the puzzle. Apparently I left one in Frederiksberg when I transfered, but got it again on splits. Thank Søster Guesne for that one. I was seriously worried another one had gotten lost somewhere though. Sorry you've had a crappy time lately. Wish I were there to give you a hug.

Week 30

Kære Alle Sammen,

This week has definitely been the most unique of my mission.

Yesterday we met with a reporter from TV2 Fyn - the regional tv news station for the entire island of Fyn. She was doing a 10 minute interview with us and following us with her cameraman for the day as we went about our work. That's a lot of time, tv-wise! It's all in connection with the Mitt Romney thing. So on Thursday we met with a representative from the Church's PR devision here who gave us coaching on the interview process, techniques to respond tactfully, and how to answer her questions while staying in control of the interview and getting the message across. It was aaaaaall in Danish too, so that was just a blast. She was actually really fun, and the cameraman was so sweet. They started by interviewing us one-on-one, beginning with personal "getting to know you" questions, like "Where are you from?", "Tell us about your family.", and "Now tell me, why did you decide to serve a mission?", and switching to more controvercial topics like "Why can't women be priests in your church?", "What's the deal with you not drinking alcohol and coffee?", and a bunch of questions about homosexuality and divorce (with my family background). She also asked a lot about how the whole Mitt Romney thing is affecting our work, our political views (which we can't share), and the church's standpoint on it all. Søster Moore and I actually feel like we did pretty well. Søster Moore had given a talk in church that Sunday, so they filmed her reading a bit of it from the pulpit. They also filmed her playing "I Am A Child of God" on the piano and singing (she majored in Drama education, and taught at a high school before coming, and has a gorgeous voice) while I sat and listened. And a bunch of random opening and closing shots she'll probably voice over where we walk into the church, sit down, and start reading in the Book of Mormon, then a few where we close our books, stand, and walk out. The camera man said he knows what he wants to do with it, so I'll trust him. Then we showed them around the church, telling about the baptismal font and everything. They also filmed us with photos of our family, telling a bit about everyone. That's right. You guys will all be on the Danish news. The best was of me walking into a bathroom while Søster Moore waited outside, since that's the only time we're only allowed to be apart. Whatever. The weirdest part was when they filmed our faces as we watched a clip of Romney's and Obama's acceptance speaches. Both were them just trying to make themselves seem like everyone else to get that connection. Søster Moore and I were not at all interrested, so I don't think she got what she was looking for.

It was really cool contacting with them though. Awkward, but cool. Hey, you try explaining the Book of Mormon to someone on the street while you've got a camera four inches from your face! It went well though. They also got shots of us knocking, which was hilarious. The reporter went and knocked on a few doors to ask if she could film us knocking at the house. Everyone just shut the door in her face. NOW she knows what it's like to be a missionary! In the end she gave up and just filmed us from the street as we knocked. It was weird doing it with microphones on our jackets though!

In the end we visited the bishop's family. This was something we'd really been pushing for, since this is the heart of our work. We can knock on doors all day, but the real success comes when we're in the homes of members, less actives, and investigators. He's pretty young too. His kids are 11, 9, and 4. We held a Family Home Evening with them where we prayed, shared a scripture and a spiritual thought, and sang a song. That was the best part of the whole interview.

It will air some time before Nov 6 with elections, but she's not sure exactly when. The whole news reel will be in their website. It'll all be in Danish, but I'll send you guys the link anyway.

So the trainings, pre-interview meetings, and interview work has taken up most of our week. I don't have much else to write about.

I love you all! Thanks for all of the e-mails and photos this week!

Jeg elsker jer,

1. Søster Moore and me at the beach in Kerteminde
2. Fun with the statues in Kerteminde
3. Our bikes don't play well with others
4. The fishermen on the docks in Kerteminde

Mom - Thank you soooo much for all the photos! I loved seeing everyone. Seth was adorable! And the camel is so cute. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I've decided to name him Alma. Don't worry about sending the package off. It will get here when it gets here, and you have a lot on your plate right now with school and helping Greg and jetsetting around the country. I love hearing from you, and every package is a treasure, but it's not worth stressing over. You're amazing either way.

William - Mom said you were going to write, but that's fine. My half way mark isn't until the 14th, so you've got a few days before I get offended. ;) I love you!

Katie - I'm so glad school is going well! It's crazy to think you've gotten so old and mature-ish (I say mature-ish, because everyone tells me you're becoming more like me, and I would never describe that as fully mature). I remember the beginning of my Junior year at AFHS so vividly that it's mind-blowing to think that you're in the same place now. Wow. By the way, that is such a cute picture of you on the 4-wheeler! I absolutely love the picture of you and Camilla laughing though. That's so cute.

Greg - I'm glad you're close to being back to full speed again! I was a bit sick this last week, and spending a few days inside drove me absolutely crazy. I can't imagine 3 weeks. Ugh. Seems like you're a trooper though!

Grandpa M. - Thank you for your story. It's always so good to hear the impact one person can make, especially without knowing it. That's every missionary's dream, you know? I'm so glad that you are feeling better after the treatments and working back in the temple again. That brings its own sense of peace and strength. I love you!

Dad - Hahaha! I love the diagram of the brain. It's sadly true. I've been getting some notifications that my e-mails weren't delivered to your address, but you kept responding as normal, so I didn't think much of it. Sad. Well, just so you know, I also died laughing at the license plate photo you sent. Now that's clever. That's so cool about the Dr Who cast! Poor Søster Moore is also a huge Harry Potter fan, but left right before the last movie came out. She's been living in tragic un-knowing-ness (hey, that works in Danish ... just not English) ever since.

Supreme Mugwump - Thanks for the half-way card and the cd! I'm so excited to listen to it! I just got it in the mail as we left to e-mail, so it was perfectly timed. I have a year mark package all ready for you, but your gift is taking a bit longer to put together than I thought. I got your birthday package in August though, so but that timing, I have until mid December to get it to you. ;) I'll try to get it off next P-Day though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012