Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 6

Kære Alle Sammen,

Spring has officially sprung in Copenhagen. It's a balmy 17 degrees. Not sure what that is in Farenheit, but it sure feels nice!

Fun week. We had Zone Conference on Thursday and the One Month Missionary meeting on Friday, so lots of time in meetings with President Andersen and the other missionaries. It's great that I get to see Søster Arbon so much, even though it's weird not having Søster Taylor there too. I'll be visiting Søster Arbon and Søster Redd in Slagelse later this week though. I've really been blessed to be companions with the Coordinating Sister and see so much of Denmark my first transfer. We focused a lot on working with the members and spreading around the latest Family Mission Plans, so that was exciting. More and more Søster Ronstrom and I both feel like that's going to be the biggest part of our time in this area. Our ward is great, it's just getting them to keep at it and really up their level of member missionary work. We have some ideas, but it's all going to take time. Everyone can feel that something big is about to happen, but I'm convinced that any monumental success we have here is going to come from the members. Especially the youth.

This Sunday the Donny Osmund Fan Club came to church to see what it is that their idol believes. They came to Sacrament Meeting and Guest Class, and got a little tour of the chapel. A handful of middle-aged ladies swappin' stories about the Os. Good times.

We invited A to be baptized this week. Her response was that we're good people, and she likes what she's learning, but she's not so sure she really wants to be a part of a church like ours. You know, with the guy with the eighty wives and all the compounds and all that. Sigh. We quickly explained that that was not, in fact, our religion at all. We've actually gotten that a lot lately. Apparently they've been re-airing a bunch of specials on Mormons on tv due to the whole Mitt Romney stir. Not all the information is correct, evidently.

Søster Ronstrom and I have really been praying about it, and we are going to try to get two new investigators this week. I'm not sure how it will happen with being in Slagelse and then going straight to splits with the Lyngby sisters the next day, and Interviews on Friday, but we feel we have the faith and dedication to make it happen. We haven't found any in my 6 weeks here yet, and we keep praying for it. We've been trying to cover more ground and we're talking to just about every person that comes our way. If you'd pray too, we'd appreciate it. As I said, we all feel like something big is about to happen. It's just a matter of faith and cooperation to get started.

Oh, the exciting story of the week. Søster Ronstrom and I rescued a frog. Not a little frog. A frog the size of my fist. We were getting off the train and walking along a hedge on the way home when we saw him. We thought he was dog poo, until I got the feeling that I should take a closer look. In retrospect, that was a really weird feeling to get, seeing as I thought it was something to avoid, but it's just proof that God is aware of each one of his creations and we just have to follow those promptings. I'm talking about the frog specifically right now, but the principle applies to people too, I think. Anyway, I called Søster Ronstrom back and we checked him out. He was breathing, but very still and a little ... well ... flattish. We think he'd been stepped on. We didn't want to touch him, so we ripped a Plan of Salvation pamphlet in half (which I thought was fitting) and managed to slip one half underneath him while coaxing him on with the other half. Then when I went to carry him to the grass, and half way there the little bugger jumped off! Gave me a heart attack! I was afraid the fall had hurt him even more, but he gathered himself up and hopped into the grass on his own. I took that as a good sign. We made sure to pray for the frog in companionship prayers when we got home too, so I think it's all good.

Oh. Our other adventure. I almost forgot!

On Thursday morning while I was in the shower before Zone Conference, I heard a rushed voice yelling in Danish outside the door. And it wasn't my companion. Obviously a bit concerned, I popped my head out and what did I see? An inch of water puddled on the floor. It was our downstairs neighbor. The water had been coming into her apartment! It came from the shower drain and rose back up through the drain in the bathroom floor! Søster Ronstrom and I managed to dry it up as well as we could, then construct a rather clever series of towel damns around the drain so that the water had to soak through each ring before moving outward. It was an awkward week, having to sit outside of the shower while the other was in it, just staring at the drain to make sure it didn't get too far. Thank goodness for shower curtains. I don't think I've even been so grateful. Our landlords only advice was to clean it up, so on P-Day today we spend the whole morning scraping the edges of the pipes of both drains with forks to get the caulk off, rooting around to get all the hair and other lovely things out, and pouring boiling water down them to loosen things up. Eeeeeew. It was a successful procedure. This afternoon we were able to shower without any flooding!

On the whole, this has been a bit of a discouraging week. I still love the work, and I'm still really doing well in Danish for having spoken it for only three months, and I've been learning so much, but it just isn't enough. All the chocolate you sent in the care package couldn't have come at a better time, Mom. I've been reading Nephi's psalm a lot lately (Kathleen sent a letter where she referred to it as "Nephi's pep-talk"), and Moroni's words in Ether 12. Both were likewise accutely aware of their weaknesses, but were able to keep praying for solace and strength, and both held on the the end in their faith. I've always loved Moroni, but I think he's become one of my favorites since coming on the mission. Lately I've been a bit sick too. Nothing big, but just enough that it's starting to wear me down. That and my shoulder flared up again, so I haven't been able to sleep more than about four or five hours a night for the past week. Again, Mom, the sleeping pills you sent in the package were a life saver. However, I got a blessing from the Ældste Wilden (District Leader) and Ældste Holyoak (the one who forced meds and a handkerchief on me when I had a cold at the MTC. He's great.) after Zone Conference, and though my shoulder is still very sore, it hasn't bothered me since. And I've been praying every day for the energy to just keep going. It's been manageable, but this past week has really gotten to me. It's something I'll keep working at every day though, and I'm really looking forward to General Conference this weekend. Some of our investigators and many of the recent converts and less actives we've been working with will be coming. Yay! It will be so great for them to be able to listen to the words of God's own prophet specifically for His children in these times. What a blessing!

Søster Morse

Dad - I responded to your letter, so you're good to go.

Cheryl - Sorry to hear about Matt's knee. He's so funny. Good luck to Andrew in the Pinewood Derby too!

Mom - Again, thank you for being such a godsend. I hope you're having a good time in California and that everything else works out okay. Say hi to the CA Walkers for me!

Greg - I have yet to find good bbq sauce here. Sad day. Not sure why, but I've been craving your bbq. Must be the weather.

William - How's California and the competition?

Katie - Have you seen Hunger Games yet? There are posters all over Copenhagen. Apparently it came out last Friday. Huh.

Art Denmark Style

These pictures were taken in the museum. "Works of art" by Disney are displayed right next to the other priceless works of art!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week 5

Kære alle sammen,

Thank you for your prayers for N (we can use first letters, and that's better than ***). What we feel like with the investigator is that eventually he'll stand up for his decision and be baptized. His parents love him (come on, he's there only child, studying to be a doctor, and the sweetest guy ever. Who wouldn't?), and will accept whatever he does if they know it makes him truly happy, even if the mother definitely didn't enjoy her time with the Mormons. She won't say why. We're going to keep praying for him though, as he asked, and we taught him about fasting too. We're keeping up our regular meetings, of course. In his prayers at the end he always thanks Heavenly Father for the missionaries who are willing to meet with him to help him become better, and he loves every single meeting. He has also committed to come to church every Sunday. How could we not be excited to meet with him every week? It is difficult though. His mom has started teasing him a little bit about the church. "Watch out, N, or one of these days those missionaries will put you in a straightjacket and just push you into the font!" I can't imagine how difficult that would be, since you all have always been so supportive, but his testimony has been strong enough for him to keep talking to his mom about it and keep coming to church. We're planning on watching Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. 1. Since we've pretty much run out of lessons and 2. because I think it will really help him and his testimony to see the lives of others who have stood up for their faith like he is doing now. It's so important to learn about our heritage. That's what the whole church is built on.

I contacted by myself. I feel like Stitch. "I found them. All on ... my own." Søster Ronstrom and I walked down different sides of the same street in order to contact more people. The feeling of freedom that first five seconds when I realized that I was walking down the street alone, without a companion, was both exciting and terrifying beyond belief. Katie (sister, but maybe Supreme Mugwump too, if you want to take turns), you may need to stay by my side every minute of the first week or two home until I get used to being a real person again. Just a heads up. Clear your schedule. Anyway, it went really well. On my own, chattin' with the Danes. True, it was raining, so not many people stopped, but I did manage to teach two lessons! I was praying aaaaall morning for help speaking and the courage to even try, and I'm quite certain that it wasn't really all on my own. I'm excited to try again!

Last week we switch our P-Day to go to the Danish National Museum of History. We stayed pretty much in the Stone Age-Iron Age section, with a quick walk through the Near Eastern Classical Antiquities wing. Every museum has one. It was really fascinating to see the Viking history, but even better was the pre-Viking. They had several old grave sites that really spoke volumes about the culture. They were buried in hollowed out tree trunks with pots of mead, bread, and various buckles and bracelets and weapons that they cherished in life. Because of the trapped gasses within the trunks, they were incredibly well preserved even though they were about 3,000-4,000 years old. Humanity is fascinating. And their metal working? Supreme Mugwump, I took lots of pictures of the jewelry in the cases. We need to take a class or something and learn how to make some.

In the Greek section though was hands down the best find of the day. Week. Maybe the whole transfer. They had a whole case devoted to Herculean art -- vases, pots, small statues, plastic Disney toys ... I love the Danes!

Here's an excerpt from Søster Ronstrom's letter. M is the girl who was just baptized that you all prayed for. Sorry if it reads oddly. It's googletranslated from Swedish.

"Yesterday however, I had a truly wonderful experience. We went out and contacted and walked on either side of the street so we could talk to more people, and I was texting M, the girl who just was baptized, and it was just so cool. She talked about how she was going to "do missionary work," and a few other things and I was just so happy to hear that. For some reason I just could not stop smiling and the people I spoke to probably thought I looked a bit silly haha ​​.. but it doesn't matter. I just felt the spirit so strong and was just so happy and grateful for the opportunity I had to watch her develop as much. It's just a big drastic difference from the first time I saw her, and it is the power of Christ's Atonement. The gospel changes lives! I know it! I've seen it so many times here in Denmark and also in myself. It is such a great privilege to bear His name near mine every day. And although I'm not perfect, and certainly not a perfect missionary he gives me and others, the ability to develop and to repent. It's amazing! I hope you will take every opportunity you get to bear your testimony, and I hope that everything goes fine with you."

It really has been the most wonderful part of the mission, seeing the difference that Christ makes in people's lives. I've only been here a month, and it's already so evident.

Jeg elsker jer!

Søster Morse

P.S. The last photo is from the plane window as we landed in Denmark. The coast was covered in ice, with chunks floating out into the sea. A fantastic first impression of our new home.

Mom - Thankyouthankyouthankyouthanky
outhankyouthankyouthankyou!! I loved the package. I wore the socks on St. Patrick's (which the Danes don't even celebrate! Makes sense, seeing as they're not Irish (duh), but it's such a fun excuse to wear green and eat yummy food. They don't really need an excuse to drink. I can't seem to stay away from the chocolate and the Oreo's. Those are a godsend. You know how much I love them. And that was really clever too, lining the package with paper towels so they stayed whole. Totally worked. They were perfect. Perfect and delicious. I'll load up the flash drive and get it back asap. And all the Easter stuff is so cute! Have I mentioned that you are amazing?

Dad - It's really good that you were able to have a quiet week. It seems like everyone back home has colds though. 'Tis the season, I suppose.

Cheryl - I didn't get to talk to the member much on Sunday, so still no soup recipe. Sorry. Andrew's letter is so adorable!

Katie - Did you know that Mom sent a photo of you?

William - Here's the mail it never fails. It makes me wanna wag my tail. When it comes I wanna wail, "MAAAAAAAAIIIL"! It was so good to get a letter from you! Don't feel bad. I haven't written back to some of the people who wrote me the first month in the MTC. And it's not that long. Look at it. It's already been 3 months! That went by so quickly! Exciting about your competition news. I hope you get to go and that you 1. enjoy Cali and 2. kick serious butt in a "children's card game".

Supreme Mugwump - Some crazy issue with postage meant that I only just got your letter. So sad! I'm glad you enjoyed the cards. And yes, I sent 2 packages. The one you mentioned and then one giant envelope with all the comics my family sent me. Maybe that counts as a letter. Either way, I DID send it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Letter to Mission President

This is Hannah's latest letter to her Mission President. It is all in Danish, but fun to read.

Kære Præsident Andersen,

Vær tålmodig med min Dansk. Mit hoved mål er at tale mere Dansk. Søster Ronstrom vil ikke altid være her!

Denne uge gik godt. Niklas forsætter på vejen til dåb, og Anne begynder at forstå, synes jeg, hvordan vi er forskellig og hvorfor det betyder so meget. Med hende vil vi forsætte med vores lektioner. Med Niklas ... hans mor har begyndt at drille ham. Ikke godt. Men hans vidnesbyrd er stærk nok at han har talt med hende om hans ønske at blive døbt. Vi er næsten færdig med de fire lektioner, so denne uge vil vi snakke med ham om vores arv, særligt Joseph Smith. Vi synes at det vil være godt at have nogle gode eksempler om andre mennesker hvem har forsvarede deres tro, ligesom ham. Niklas og Anne er meget spændt for General Konference.

I går var en store dag. Jeg kontaktede og underviste to lektioner. Alene. På den samme vej som Søster Ronstrom, selvfølgelig, men på den anden side. Det var mærkelig og spændende at tale med mennesker da det var kun mig. Ikke kun mig. Jeg bad hele morgnen om hjælp. Som missionærer er vi aldrig alene.

Tak for at vi kunne skifte vores P-Day. Museet var super sejt! Jeg lærte så meget om de gammel Danske folke. Gammel, som 5.000 år siden. Men vores yndlings del var den "Near Easter Classical History" (undskyld, jeg ved ikke hvordan mand siger det på Dansk). Hvert museum har en. Der var en lille sal for Herculean kunst - vaser, statuer, Disney legetøj ... Det var fantastisk at se en gammel vase med en Hydra, lige ved siden af en legetøj fra filmen.

Vi er spændt for Zone Konference! Vi ses!

Søster Morse

Link to the Mission Newsletter

This is a link to the February Mission Newsletter. It is fun to see the Danish language and to read what is going on in that mission. They bid "good-bye" to the outgoing missionaries and "hello" to the new ones. You can find a picture of Sister Morse in that section!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The CUV--Youth Center

These are from the CUV (Young Adult Center). The Elders are the President's Assistants, and actually the first missionaries I met here in Denmark. Ældste Larkin and Ældste Koop. Æ Koop (the tall one) was just transferred to Århus. These were taken at FHE. The pool balls? We play Crud every week, and the Elders get ... competative. A submission of my true mission is to get Ældste Larkin out. Pride cometh before the fall, Ældste. Pas på ...

The other is Ældste Telford. He and his wife are in charge of the CUV here and are complete angels. Well, Søster Telford is, anyway. Ældste Telford decided to take a few pictures of himself while taking pictures of us. He's hilarious, and the youth all love them both.

Week 4

Kære Familier,

Thank you again for all of your fasting and prayers with my last investigator I wrote about. I hate to say it, but more prayers would always be appreciated.

If there ever was a prepared investigator, it's ***. I hate that I can't use his name, but whatever. *** is 19 years old, and he's studying medicine with a specific focus on cancer treatment. The most soft-spoken, sincere person I've met. You can just feel the Spirit as soon as you enter the room. He has such a strong testimony of the gospel, even before he learned much of it. He pretty much lived the Word of Wisdom already, except for the occasional cup of tea with his friends. He explained that it was always important to him to keep any altering substances out of his body, because his sense of self was very important and could tell the difference. He was also excited to keep the Sabbath. He read over his lectures last Sunday though, and told us in the lesson today that he definitely gained a testimony of the Sabbath after noticing the change it made. Already. He's only known about it for 2 Sundays. And he want's to be baptized. He really, really does. He REALLY does. But his parents are against it. His mom was baptized years ago and has since gone inactive and harbors strong feelings against the church. *** talked to her about it, which was not easy for him to do at all, and her verdict was that he could continue to meet with us and attend church, but she put her foot down on baptism. He's far too unselfish to be baptized against their wishes. It's just so frustrating!! He asked us to pray for him and we taught him about fasting today. Would you keep him in your prayers?

Last Tuesday was exciting. Søster Ronstrom is the coordinating sister, so we went on splits with the Odense sisters. I don't remember if I mentioned that last time or not. We got to leave Copenhagen (for my first time!) and the island of Sjæland behind to go to Fynn. It's beautiful. I love Odense. It's still a city, but slower paced, less gratified, and a bit older feeling. And the people there actually pronounce the whole word and speak slowly enough to be intelligible! Here in Copenhagen they tend to swallow the end of the word (which is pretty impressive, since it's already a fairly guttural language) and talk, well, rather like New Yorkers. Every conversation is an adventure. Anyway, we spend the night with Søster Taylor (my old MTC comp, whom I haven't seen since we said farewell on day one) and her trainer. Very cozy. I like Odense a lot.

Yesterday evening we met with a JW family again. They'd invited us the first time just to chat and see what we believed. It was really just the husband, but he was pretty open to listening, though of course interjected his own beliefs and refused a copy of the Book of Mormon. This week was the Plan of Salvation (answering his questions from the week before) and it was less than pretty. I'm pretty proud of us for not declining into Bible bashing, actually. We had a Biblical base for everything we said (as did he, though he conveniently would ignore some of our points and changed the subject when he couldn't counter it), but the discussion didn't get very far. He was trying to convince us we were wrong, and we were trying to hold our ground without crossing the line and going on the offense. I love debate and philosophy, but when he started using tricky rhetorical questions that were intended to trip us up, I got a bit fed up. It made me think of the scripture in Matthew 10:16-20.
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Completely true. We were able to end the discussion amicably and bear testimony, while still letting him feel like he could keep his beliefs. I honestly don't think I've ever been so diplomatic and tactful in my life (yes, Supreme Mugwump, it's true). If Søster Ronstrom and I could teach like that all the time, Queen Margarethe herself would be baptized!
Rumor has it that she's actually heard the lessons and likes the church. She can't be baptized, or that would mess up the state religion of Denmark though. The Danske Folke Kirke is pretty good too though.

IT'S FINALLY SPRING!! To celebrate, Søster Ronstrom and I had a picnic in our wilderness. Next the the train station by our house is a random hilly area with a few scraggly trees and knee-high yellow grass. I've heard there are wildflowers in the summer. It's the opposite of the other side, which is covered in bushes and tress and looks far more like the rest of Denmark. It's almost like the field out by Hidden Pond in Highland was just trans-located here. We're pretty fond of our little misfit wilderness.  We pass it several times a day going to the station, and today was so sunny and nice that we just had to enjoy it. We brought sandwiches and sat back, and we also did some companionship study up there too. I'll send photos. Such a great afternoon! Then, of course, we got back to work. It's a good way to spend a lunch hour though.

We don't have many investigators right now, after ***'s baptism last week. The whole mission's in a bit of a dry spell. We have it better than the other Sisters though, from what I've heard. Søster Ronstrom and I have rededicated ourselves though and are planning on making this week a high mark. Last week was not so fantastic, between being in Odense for two days and then taking a sick day. It happens. It can only go up from there though!

Dad: Welcome home from Boston! When does Sherlock series 2 start? *** brought up Sherlock Holmes today in the lesson, and it just made me think of it. He'd been reading the one story that talks about the Mormon cult and just though, "Oh, well, that's curious." I  explained that Doyle just needed a cult and borrowed the wone ... wow. That's just sad. Danish. Grr. Anyway, the one that Robert Louis Stevenson used. I read a letter in an anthology of Sherlock Holmes before that story that was Doyle's explanation and apology, but of course the story is more well know than that important little addition. Oh well.

Mom: It was great to chat with you. We'll have to coordinate it again some time! I'm usually on about the same time every Monday to e-mail and write my report to the President. About 4-6 ish here, so ... I'm really bad with math. Whatever time it was when we were chatting.

Cheryl: We ate at the Waddoups' again and had this incredible lentil soup. True, anything would taste delicious after a day of contacting, but it really was good. She's bringing the recipe to church next Sunday, so I'll send it to you. Not exactly seasonal anymore, but SO good. Matthew's Lorax costume sounds adorable. Could you send a picture? I tried to explain it to my companion, but she's Swedish and has no idea what a Lorax even is. Tragic.

Greg: Did you get that last snow you'd been hoping for? If not, it's only March so you've still got a few months. Utah weather. Psh.

William: Will you e-mail me a concise explanation of Islamic beliefs? There are a lot of Muslims here. We aren't allowed to contact them if it's obvious (understandable, given the penalty for abandoning Islam for another religion), but we do chat with them pretty often and I want to be more well versed. A background in Buddhism and Hinduism has helped a lot too with the European population here. I would definitely recommend a survey of world religions to anyone thinking of representing their own.

Katie: Every time I hear the ring tone on the iPhone that Shawn has, I think of Psych. Brilliant. Hope everything's going well with school! When do you get your license?

Supreme Mugwump: Congrats on the baptisms and the new baptismal date too! The work really is moving forward there, isn't it? I love hearing about all your inspirational experiences. It's clear how much you love these people. Well, I couldn't think of any good pirate names for myself! And to say I wanted to get sick just because I forgot my travel sickness medicine is like saying you wanted to be hungry because you missed lunch. Don't lets be silly. I wrote you a letter! And I mailed it off ages ago. I hope it got there. Let me know how long Denmark/Seattle's mail route is. Oh, and there's a surprise for you. Yay! It'll have to be my substitution for sending packages. I recommend you do the same. Sense of direction? Er ... who do we know who has one of those? How's Hermana Bæk? I know that's not really how you spell it, but I write it that way every time in letters by accident, so why stop now? Danish has KILLED my spelling. Oh, I miss Harry Potter. You know how my comp was going into animation and loves all things Harry Potter? She's started a companionship sketch dump. This weeks theme: Harry Potter/Missionary crossover. You were sorted into Seattle. What more can I say? I'll send  you pictures.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sister Anderson (mission pres. wife), Sister Ronstrom & Sister Morse

King Christian Statue

Pictures From Denmark

The Bayoux Tapestry

I am not a church either! 

Beautiful Denmark!

Wonderful food!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Funny Weekly Email to President Andersen

We submitted this as part of our weekly letter to the Mission President. Don't worry. He has a sense of humor. And likes letters that make him laugh. We've decided that as part of lightening his burden, we'll include something funny in each letter before getting down to business and being the good, responsible missionaries our mothers expect us to be.

Our dearly beloved Mission President, President Andersen, as well in the Lord as in the tribulations of our mission, behold, President Andersen, we have somewhat to tell you concerning our work in thes part of the land.

Behold, many are challenged, but few enter the waters of baptism as are challenged. For though the faith of the servants is strong, there are those that hearken to the enticing words of the adversary, that same adversary who desireth the soulds of the children of men and leadeth not to the truth, but to eternal damnation.

And it is those that have followed that have sought to take away the liberty of this people, who have been the cause of this great affliction, that so few souls enter the waters of baptism, for they have used great flattery, and they have led away the hearts of many people, which has been the cause of sore affliction among us; for behold, we have fought valiantly to bring them unto the paths of salvation.

They grow proud, beign lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches and wisdom; therefore they grow rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to our words, to walk uprightly before God.

But yea, there are many who are golden; yeah, not golden as in the ways of the world, but behold, they are golden as in the ways of the Lord.

Therefore, our beloved President Andersen, we have covenanted to teach all men and women, and whatsoever men we cannot teach in their own homes, yeah, such as single men and those proud of heart, let us teach them with a member present, that we may through obedience obtain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our redeemer and our God.

See that ye strengthen the other missionaries in the Lord; tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yeah, and all those who stand fast in the liberty wherewith God hath made them free.

And now, we close our epistle to our beloved Mission President, President Andersen.

Written by the hands of Søster Morse and Søster Ronstrom, on the fifth day of the third month in the two thousand and twelfth year of our Lord.