Kære Alle Sammen,
This has been a crazy week, with another one to follow, so we'll see if I can get through it all. Big news first. Søster Ronstrom finishes her mission and goes back to Sweden on Thursday. I'll miss my mom. She has been an incredible missionary, trainer, and friend. However, as of this Wednesday my new companion will be Søster Olsson. She's only been on her mission for 8 months, and she'll not only be finishing my training but, wait for it, we're getting a greenie! I'm looking forward to the tripanionship. One definite upside is that we don't have to turn over any more investigators to the elders because we can't get sisters from the ward to come teach single men with us! That, and it's crazy fun.
Thursday is the place to begin with last week though. I've never been more spiritually charged or more exhausted. The Odense sisters had been over for splits the night before, and it's always so great to hygge with the other sister missionaries. Google hygge if I haven't already explained. http://www.visitdenmark.com/usa/en-us/menu/turist/nyheder/nyheder/kunstenathyggesig.htm hygehouse.com That day though we dropped them off, then ran to 4 appointments in a row, one out of our area since Søster Ronstrom had been his former teacher and he wanted to meet her before she left. We hadn't scheduled dinner, but we were praying for strength the whole day. A delayed bus meant we had time for a durum, so it was a curse and a blessing.
N first. He began the appointment by asking to see the baptismal font again. It was incredible seeing him walk down the stairs into it and just looking around. The Spirit was so strong. Back upstairs though he gave us each a gift (mine was a book of photos of Copenhagen, really beautiful), and informed us that due to the situation with his family, he would be discontinuing his investigation into the church. We were all crushed, but we'd expected it as soon as he brought out the gifts. Dana, the wonderful young woman we bring along to teach with us, frightfully asked if he'd prayed about his decision. He said no. What followed was a lesson full of testimony from all of us and lead entirely by the Spirit. As he said the closing prayer, he began sobbing. He confessed that he really cared about all of us, and didn't want to see us sad because of his choice. His problem is that he's too unselfish. He agreed to pray about his decision and we set a group fast for Sunday. We later found out that he'd fasted on his own on Friday as well as all day Sunday, and he'd read nearly 100 pages in the Book of Mormon by the time we saw him in church. He really does love the gospel, but as an only child really feels a strong sense of obligation to his parents. He has decided to keep coming to church and reading and praying though, and when things calm down a bit, he'll begin meeting with the missionaries again. He's also in touch with the lds.org chat room missionaries, so they'll be there to answer and questions. We've been suggesting for a month now that someone meet his parents so they can get answers to their questions too. His mother used to be a member, but she refuses to talk about her time with the church. It couldn't have been pleasant. He hasn't been too fond of the idea, but on Sunday he talked to our ward mission leader and President Andersen's brother, who is amazing, and is opening up to it. Hans (P. Andersens' brother) and Lis are going to invite him and his parents over for dinner one night. His parents weren't too fond of the church either, so he's sympathetic.
After N was A. She's always so sweet. And she gave us some little home made tarts and tea, which was lunch.
After A was the investigator from the other sisters' area. Quick background note: they're closing that area because of the problems they've had with stalkers and the like. Pres. Andersen has had to go with them to the police station twice in the last few months because of threatening or inappropriate texts. One of their contacting areas is the area just outside of the city with all the mental hospitals, and they've had a lot of ... interesting experiences there. No one's quite sure why it was a sisters area to begin with, but it's being changed to an elders area this transfer. It was in the meeting that we got news of the upcoming transfers. Actually while I was out contacting with Søster Olsson during Søster Ronstrom and Søster Moore's lesson. This is a transfer of epic proportions. Apart from the Copenhagen district, there's only one apartment in the whole mission that isn't affected by this transfer.
After that our final appointment was A and E, the less active couple we've visited a lot before. I love them. A was having a really, really difficult time though. Her family was never close (she had a terribly abusive upbringing), but she's done the best with what life gave her. E too. A's family has pretty much cut off contact with her though. She only found out about the big family reunion they all had because of facebook. She was very hurt and very, very angry. She has a strong faith, but her belief is really being shaken. We had a beautiful discussion on the atonement though, and door-bell-ditched her last night and left a card with Elder Bednar's talk about the enabling power of the atonement from this month's Liahona. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
On the way home from A and E someone at the bus stop thought I was Danish. He said he couldn't hear my accent at all. That was a blessing, since I've been getting a bit discouraged with the language. It's still coming along though. I just have to keep reminding myself that I've only been studying it for four months. Patience is not one of my virtues.
On Friday we had dinner with Pauline! She's a legend in the mission, and pretty much everyone's mother. She's a former Seventh Day Adventist from Uganda who LOVES missionary work. That morning we ran into N (a recent convert from Ghana who's been looking for work in Italy for the past 3 months). Pauline helped teach him, so we invited him to dinner with us that evening. It really was such a miracle. Pauline has had a difficult time with going back to school to study medicine and working a lot, and she bore a really sweet testimony about how much the church really means in each of our lives that I think really struck N. As a side note, I love African food. It's spicy, but so yummy. And I love that both of them would say "mmm" or "yes, yes" or even once "amen" when we said something in the spiritual thought, discussion, or prayer that they particularly liked.
We also ate dinner at A's with Hans and Lis Andersen. I seriously love them. A and Lis are good friends, and Hans is also the stake patriarch, so he is invaluable to have along. In the course of dinner they taught her the restoration of priesthood authority, the apostasy (how do you spell that in English? I can only think of it in Danish ...), church organization (bishoprics, etc.) and the difference between them and traditional priests, and Lis invited her to Relief Society, which she very much like the sound of. A has been taught on and off for a year (mostly off, since she spent a lot of time in Odense and visiting her mother who has Alzheimer's), and thanks to one evening with the Andersens, she's finally starting to internalize and understand why our church is unique. She likes it, but her father was a priest in the Danish People's Church, so it's difficult for her to make the switch. She's had no problem blending the two though, which works. She gave Søster Ronstrom a set of H. C. Andersen stories on cd (which Søster Ronstrom talked about the whole way home), which I'm copying for language study. Crazy stories, but very Danish. Oh boy.
Tillykke med fødselsdag Dronning Margrethe!
In other news, Pottermore opened this week! Bronte Waddoups (the 9 year old daughter from the awesome Scottish/American family I had dinner with my first night here) is my Potter buddy. I told her that I saw something on the bus news real about J K Rowling and some big release, and she suddenly got very serious and promised to find out the details for me. She reported back later that evening. I love that girl.
Mom - Expect something in the mail. I won't say more. You know why. I love you!
Greg - Best. Meat. Coma. Ever. Even better than the Juicy Lucy cheese-filled burgers. Are you ready? A giant Frankfurter sausage wrapped in bacon. Whaaaaat! I know, right? And the bun is totally optional. You've got to try bacon-wrapped hot dogs. I don't have to work to persuade you. It's meat wrapped in meat. How can it go wrong?
Dad - That's so interesting about the planets. I've noticed some brighter stars that I thought might be planets, but wasn't sure without google. Oh, how I miss google. And don't worry about me being out at night. I'm not terribly far from the arctic circle, remember, so "night" here can be fairly relative.
Cheryl - Don't feel bad for not writing. I know you love and pray for me, and I always feel bad because it takes me forever to write anyone back. Thank you for the quote. As I've been here I've noticed a stark difference between those missionaries who do and do not live by the Spirit. And thank you for the picture too! Would you mind sending that to overy(at)juno.com so that Katie O's family can send it on to her?
William - Any luck with work up in Dad's area?
Katie - Aw, you're the bestest bestest bestest sister I've ever had! Totally my favorite. Seriously though, thanks for those songs. I've been singing the choruses over and over in my head, so it's nice to be able to branch out. And I think it's awesome that you wanted to go to a planetarium. And so cool about the Mars rock! You know what my companion wanted to do for her last P-Day? Go to an aquarium and see sharks. Nerds really do rule the world.