Monday, June 25, 2012

Sister Missionaries in Denmark 6/2012

All the Sister Missionaries : Søster Morse, Elizabeth (one of President Andersen's daughters, not technically a missionary, but super awesome), Søster Guesne, Søster Arbon, Søster Redd, Søster Johnson, Søster Olsson, Søster Taylor, Søster Moore, Søster Christensen, and Søster Andersen (Præsident's wife.)

Week 19

Kære Alle Sammen,

Hello from Odense! It's beautiful here, but I feel a bit like a city girl figuring out country life after living in Copenhagen for so long. There was a COW by the train station. You'd never see that. The most wildlife I saw in CPH were birds, spiders, cats, dogs, and occasionally mice. Here it's common to bike past horses. Oh yes, I'm on a bike. He's about as old as I am. His name is Sikkerhed, which means Safety, because he was actually Søster Johnson's bike when she was a greenie and she accidentally said in her prayer "please bless us that we can bike on safety" (common preposition mix up). It stuck. I really like serving with Søster Johnson. She's been here in Odense for 8 months now, so she's teaching me lots of tips and tricks. She also watches Big Bang Theory, Psych, Castle, and Community. It's going really well investigator-wise too. We had six investigators in church yesterday!

Da got baptized on Saturday! Søster Ronstrom came for it, and called me while she was there. It was so good to hear from her. She seems to be doing well for herself too. My momma done got herself hitched! That's right. Søster Ronstrom is engaged! They wrote each other during both of their missions and were just beyond adorable. Clearly the 3 years apart didn't change anything.

On Tuesday Præsident Andersen gave me a blessing and just talked things over with heading into my next transfer. He told me he was proud of how far I'd come in 4 months, and he couldn't imagine anyone who better personified what it meant to be a Sister Missionary. I'm worried about what that means, because every time he sees me I'm running around like a madman, usually looking for some investigator, tape, whatever. It's like a routine. Every time he or Søster Andersen see me, the first thing they say is, "Don't be too hard on yourself, Søster Morse. You're doing just fine." I'm not stressed. I'm just a spaz. I really do love them and their family though, and will miss them a lot when they leave on Friday. I'm excited for Præsident Sederholm too though.

Church was interesting. We had our normal ward in the morning, then headed down to Svenborg with the other missionaries and some members to hold a sacrament meeting for the members in that area. It's too far away for them to come up to Odense every Sunday, so this monthly sacrament meeting is really all they get. We met in the upper room of a local society meeting house. There were only 26 people there - 6 of them were missionaries (us, Elders, Senior Couple). It was a very humbling experience, and made me realize just how much I've taken for granted. Afterward I met my new Vietnamese mother, Lan Le. She adores the missionaries and force feeds us to death. "Spis, mit barn!" (Eat, my child!) And the missionaries all call her Mor (Mom). I'll have to get a picture with her next time.

On Thursday I met the coolest family ever. Ken Hall and his 6 kids and 8 cats (6 kittens). They live way out in the countryside, surrounded by daisies and poppies. Their home was just so noisy and fun and full of books and music and laughing. Supreme Mugwump, it's rather how I imagine the Weasley family. I've decided I want a home like that when I grow up. 

Friday was Sankt Hans Aften, which we're totally celebrating when I get back. It celebrates the birth of John the Baptist (June 24, six months before Jesus'. Ish.) Traditionally, you sing a bunch of old songs like "Vi er Børn af Sol og Sommer" (we are children of sun and summer), hygge, and top off the evening by burning a witch. Jo tak! One of the members taught us another fun tradition. On Sankt Hans Aften, if a young woman picks 9 different types of flowers and sleeps with them under her pillow, she will dream of the man she will marry. Søster Johnson and I both tried. She dreamed of volleyball and I dreamed of bringing a bunch of missionaries to just blitz contact Odense (that's what the city really needs, come fall). Ah well. As Elder Hammond said, it just means we'll have to start collecting our cats when we get home.

We also got to enjoy the Sting concert here in Odense. From our apartment. A kilometer and a half a way from the concert. We thought it was just our neighbors enjoying the summer (it's light until about 11), until we realized it was all Sting. Wished you were there, Dad. 

The bad news: Ni dropped us. Hard. My old companions forwarded me his text, which said that he'd come to the conclusion that God was no more than a comforting idea created by Man, and that he'd wasted enough of his life on finding that out, then begged us to get ourselves out of it and stop trying to blind others with our stupid hopes. I confess, that hurt. I remember him crying during meetings, torn between what he knew was true and his family, who was making him choose. I remember his sincere prayers, thanking God for each and every time we could meet, and for the peace and hope that he had felt. I remember him quietly saying, "I know it's true. I can't deny that. It's true." The Ni in the text was not the Ni I knew. From what it sounds like, a lot of it is his mother who is blaming their situation now on the church. However, during one of our meetings I got the strong feeling that it might not be now, but that at some point he would join the church. I'm clinging to that. Ma and Da both chose to sever all contact with the church before, and now both are baptized.

The library we e-mail at plays music in the background. Right now it's "Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?" Maybe I haven't. Really, I do love you all. I couldn't do the Lord's work out here if I didn't know that you were all safe and well and cheering for me back home. Thank you for all of the e-mails, letters, and care packages. I love you.

Jeg elsker jer!
Søster Morse

Mom - Ah, Strawberry Days Rodeo. Yummy. I still think of you whenever I'm complimented on my wardrobe. Thank you for all your help pulling it together!

Greg - Congratulations on the new iPad! You would win the lottery on that one. Psh. Lucky dog.

Katie - I envy your summer schedule. You're a dork for taking US History during the summer. I'm so proud.

William - Get your butt off the couch and write me.

Dad - Congratulations to Kristina! I'm so glad that she has you guys now. She's wonderful, and she sounds like she's doing well. Ken and Lene e-mailed me, so that's all taken care of. I'll actually be on splits on the 4th in Copenhagen, so that might just work out. I'm excited.

Cheryl - I actually remember when he gave that talk! I loved it. Thanks for sending me a copy!

June Issue of Denmark Mission Newsletter

Here is the link to the Mission Newsletter for June.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 18

Kære Alle Sammen,

This week's main event was Mission Conference, where all 70-ish of the missionaries across all of Denmark gathered in Copenhagen to say farewell to President Andersen and his family. When we all sang "Gud vær med dig til vi ses igen" (God be with you till we meet again), I don't think their was a dry tear in the audience. Præsident and Søster Andersen have truly poured their heart and soul into Den Danske Mission, and we all love them all the more for it. Elder Marlin K Jensen also came and spoke. He's from the Quorum of the Seventy and the Church Historian, and this was his last big assignment before being released. I loved the insights he gave to the gospel purely from historical context. For example, his explication of D&C 4. Every missionary knows that chapter by heart and we recite it every meeting (don't ask me to try it in English though). That revelation was received during what was perhaps the darkest period of Joseph Smith's life, the winter just after the 16 pages were lost and his ability to translate was taken away. On a more personal level, he confessed that he feared he'd lost his salvation along with the precious scriptures. In addition to that, he and Emma were living in a little lean-to shack attached to his parents-in-law's house, and we all know how the Hale family felt about him. I can't even imagine how he would have felt at that time. The revelation was given when his father came to visit and check up on him, asking for a blessing as well. What would it have been like, in that frozen little shack with a broken prophet, to hear the words, "Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men." The greatest missionary prophecy of all time, received when things seemed their darkest. The Lord had a plan. Sometimes though we don't see it until we're humble enough to trust Him. I've learned something else on my mission too. Sometimes the hard times prepare you to make the best of the best times. The Lord gives us only what we're capable of at the time. We might not be getting what we want now simply because we aren't ready for that. But after the hard times are over, if we've proven ourselves worthy, if we have come to humbly trust in the Savior through it all, then we've also shown Him (and ourselves) that He can trust us with the blessings we will then receive. We may not be getting any real investigators right now, but by staying strong we prove to God that He can trust us with His children He has prepared, and we'll be strong enough to be the missionaries they need.

After the conference, President Andersen came up to me and said, "Elder Jensen also wanted to interview some of the missionaries here, and I have selected you to represent the Sisters." Er ... It was really a special experience to be in a personal interview with the Church Historian though. He asked me loads of questions about the mission and advice for the new president, and I in turn to to ask him questions about his work. He said he'd put in a good word for me if I were to volunteer as a docent in the Church History museum in Salt Lake City when I get back. Uh ... jo tak! 

Oh, and more news. Turns out I'm not going to Slagelse with Søster Taylor after all. Emergency transfers. I'm actually going to Odense with Søster Johnson. Fun!

And Dad, I finally did meet Kristian Kjeldsen. He and his wife had me and my companions over for lunch and we got to listen to all his stories of you two on your missions together. I can't wait to hear more from you when I get home. I'll mail you his full contact info he wrote out, but for now his e-mail address is  and he would love to hear from you. You'd actually been on his mind the last few weeks too.

Next time I write you all, it will be from Odense, on the island of Fynn. Until then ...

Jeg elsker jer!
Søster Morse

Katie's Mommy - I can't call you Sabrina, and Sister O'Very just feels far too formal. Thank you for your prayers, and for passing on Katie's e-mails. It sounds like she's really doing well!

Dad - HAPPY FATHERS DAY! I had no idea you were in Rhode Island! Fun! Tell Andrew congratulations for me on his first home run of the season.

Cheryl - Thank you for the talk. I'll print it off and read it this afternoon. I'm glad your mother's okay after the accident. I'll keep her in my prayers. Yes, I remember Mary Steven. BYUIS is changing so much! Crazy.

Mom - Thank you for your words of wisdom. And that's so cool that Rachel Chase got married! Yes, I would totally have wished them all the happiest. I'm glad that couple called. They were really sweet, though apparently too liberal in their praises. Hm ... And that's a really interesting idea in Nate Ensign's letter. It wouldn't work as well with your average Dane, but in some circumstances (depending on the person), it might really help. And I love what Andrew Corliss said.

Katie - I'm glad your talk worked out, and you might be able to use that other one as the foundation for something the next time. I'm sure you were great! Great idea for Dad's gift too. He's a hard one to shop for. And I'm surprised you remember the last time my hair was hacked off. Hey, yours is probably longer than mine now. From what I can gather from your e-mails, you sound like you're really doing well. I'm excited to see you at Christmas! As for tent themes go, I'd vote for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. You can use that even if a girl does end up switching. Plus, someone will get to march around in green tights. Always a winner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Week 17

Kære Familie,
Hello all! This week will be super short, since we don't have much time at the library today. We're busy running around all day to get ready for all of the Sisters to be staying at our house tonight and be back in time to unlock the door for them. Crazy fun!
We met with Ni again this week! I was able to play the "I'm transferring and want to see you before I leave" card shamelessly and with great success. Unfortunately, the two months he hasn't met with us definitely took their toll. He wasn't sure if it was all true anymore. However, we had a member present at the lesson and the two of them just clicked. He served his mission here in Denmark about a year ago, even though he is Danish, and was able to answer the questions masterfully, answering the core concern but also managing to direct it back to the main point of the lesson. He even invited Ni to be baptized, which was NOT part of our game plan. However, Ni gave it some thought and agreed that if he found out it was true, then he would be baptized. So we're back to square one again, but it's progress from where he was a few weeks ago!
I got my hair cut! It was a bit out of control, but so long. It was maybe only about 4 inches away from my waist. A member at the CUV agreed to cut it for me since she does all of her families hair. She was a bit rushed, but it came out great. One side was just a bit longer than the other and she doesn't like doing layers. I was able to clean it up when I got home though and thanks to the curl you can't tell the layers are uneven. Hey, you try cutting the back of your own hair some time! It's really short now too, only just below my shoulders, but it's much healthier. I've also learned a trick. Run olive oil through the ends of your hair, twist it up in a bun, leave it for 20 minutes, and then take a shower. I was amazed. You can also rub the oil onto your cuticles and hands, then sleep with gloves on. It's amazing how many super quick little short cuts you learn as a Sister Missionary!
The other big news is that I took my immigration exam today. It's all language and culture with listening and speaking. I'm certain I passed, but I have a deal with the Senior Couple who manage the office. If I got 100%, they'll take me and my companions out for ice cream. Anything less and we take them out. I love all of the people here in the mission!
I'll see if I can send more pictures home soon.
Jeg elsker jer!
Søster Morse
Dad - Thank you for the insight from your BoM class. I really wish I were there to audit it. And as far as Lene visiting goes, I'd love to see her! As always, the only address I can give out is the Mission Office's, which is the Borrups Alle one you send mail to. Their number is 4038113999. When I get to where I'm going, I'll let you know the number for there too.
Mom - It is legit and kosher. They just have people send it to the main office just because the Lord only knows how long you'll be living at your local address. Literally. And of course I'll keep him in my prayers. I always do. And thanks for the photos! Michael is a GIANT! And you were gorgeous. Wow. And from what I can see, I totally have your build. Cool!
Katie - Congratulations on getting your license! How fun is that?! And weird. I remember you tearing up the neighborhood in your pink little Barbie convertable. And I love the new nickname. We had some pretty good times in our little triumvirate. And I'm so proud of you for cracking a joke like that. Brava.
Supreme Mugwump - HAPPY HALF WAY DAY! It's been a while since I've gotten your e-mails. That makes me sad. However, I got a letter from you today. That makes me happy. I have nothing more to say.

Just a Quick Hello

Just dropping you all a quick line to let you know that I'll write tomorrow. Things are a little crazy this week with Mission Conference on Wednesday. All 9 of the sister missionaries in Denmark will be spending the day before in our teeny tiny apartment and life is a bit ... well, some of the sisters are a bit difficult. I'm not companions with any of them yet though! I love you all and will write more tomorrow!
Søster Morse

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Week 16

Hej Familie!
Remember Ma, the girl who got baptized back in February? Do you remember how she was dating Kim, a member, and preparing for her mission? MA AND KIM ARE GETTING MARRIED IN AUGUST!! They plan on being sealed in the temple as soon as possible afterward. Her baptism was just the beginning of a righteous family that will be sealed unto the Lord. We can never really see the outcome of each decision, can we? The Lord knows, however, and it has only given me more hope in the plan He has for each of us.
Thank you everyone  for all of the fun e-mails, cards, and gifts! This has definitely been one of my favorite birthdays. I tried to downplay it and not let my companions make to big of a deal out of it all, but (thanks in large part to a letter they received from a certain Sister Missionary in Washington) they decided to go all out. Mom, you'll be happy. They found all the signs from the box (I opened it, but left the wrapped gifts) and made a few dozen more while I was asleep. When I woke up the whole apartment was covered in little notes and signs, some of which had been mailed in from other Sister Missionaries in Denmark. I definitely felt loved. The Sisters from Slagelse were in on splits again (Søs Redd and Søs Taylor), so it was a party. The night before we brought home ice cream from ParadIs, the most delicious old fashioned ice cream/sorbet I've ever tasted in my life. Then on my birthday we dropped Søs Redd off for her meeting and the other four of us grabbed some kebabs and ate lunch in a park, then bought some little bags of "pick and mix" candy that we snacked on during the day. So basically we celebrated with a 24-hour long sugar rush. Contacting was really fun, and we brought Søster Taylor along to St Albans as our excuse to visit Gl and Ma again. They weren't in, but we made a new friend, Ke, who also works there. We've agreed to a bit of a choir swap. We're bringing a bunch of the young adults to their church choir concert, and they've all been invited to ours in a few weeks. Denmark has maintained a long tradition of church choirs, even if they aren't really religious anymore. Afterward we came home and Søster Olsson had baked a delicious cake that morning, covered in strawberries and chocolate and powdered sugar. Do you remember how Humon said that Danes put flags on everything, especially for birthdays? We were able to find a little American flag birthday cake toothpick thing! All in all, a wonderful birthday.
We had interviews with President Andersen yesterday. His last interviews before he's released. He's honestly one of the most Christ-like men I've ever met, and I've loved serving with him. His family is also absolutely wonderful. We'll miss them.
The big news from interviews though. I'm being transferred at the end of June. I'll be leaving Frederiksberg and heading east out to Slagelse, where I'll be serving with Søster Taylor. I'm sadder than I thought I'd be at the thought of leaving Copenhagen. I've heard before about how missionaries get so attatched to an area and I never doubted them, but I never realized either just how deep that attachment was. Like Nephi wrote, "For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry." That's what happens, I guess, when you've poured your whole heart and soul into an area. And contacted about half of the population. Copenhagen really isn't that big. And they don't even have a ParadIs in Slagelse! How will I survive?! However, I've heard that the members in Slagelse are so friendly and eager about missionary work, and it will be great to serve with Søster Taylor. Especially since both of us have only been here about 4 months! There's a group of Elders in Frederiksberg who were in the same situation - 4 months old in the land and former MTC companions. They call their companionship "the Young Guns". Soster Taylor and I will have to think of something good.
And we're back to the rainy grey days. We walked past some cool internation sandcastle competition/exhibit and read on the frequently asked questions and answers sign, "Q: What happens to the statues when it rains? A: Nothing! The statues prefer a typical Danish summer." Oooooh joy. Seriously though, I enjoy the rain. And they have a converter in the mission. Well, technically we have a lot of converters. We call them missionaries. But I mean a conversion scale.
For Elders: hours contacting in the rain = hours your future wife is spending at the gym.
For Sisters: hours spent contacting in the rain = hours your future husband spends contacting in the rain on HIS mission.
I like ours better.
Keep Søster Guesne's dad in your prayers, if you wouldn't mind. He's not a member. He and her mom split up back in France when her mom got baptized (Søster Guesne was 1). This week she sent him an e-mail bearing her testimony and quoting Moroni's promise to invite him to learn more about the church that means so much to her. Since being here she's talked a lot about sharing it with him. Now the cards are down.
Quick update: Da is praying to set her baptismal date and will get back to the Elders about it tomorrow! I think I mentioned her last time. She's great.
I don't know if you remember Be and Pr from Week 12 (I think), but we've met with them a few more times. Last time Be said that since Pr and her little 6 month old son, Tu, haven't been baptized yet, she's going to baptize them in a local church later this month. We were a bit shocked, but told her that yes, baptism is important,and explained that we wait until 8 years old, and  invited her to keep learning more about our church. We were teaching Plan of Salvation and Pr had so many questions, some I'd never even thought of before. She's only 11, but she really understands the heart of the gospel. Maybe because she's only 11. We had to leave off on the Resurrection and promise to finish next time, and as we were chatting after the lesson about questions they had, Be asked "So, does your church do baptisms?" Uh ... YES!! She then asked, "And what if someone has already been baptized? Is it possible for them to be baptized again?" Again, YES! So we shared in Acts with her about how Paul re-baptized the group of saints and she seemed quite happy about that answer. However, when we invited her to be baptized she tried to brush it off and talk about other things. We were going to meet with her today, but she cancelled. Her husband is back in town and he's ... well, he's a typical Dane (Be and Pr are from Nigeria). When Søs Ronstrom and I first tried to contact Be (she was a referral) he opened the door just long enough to grunt, "Bah, Mormons. Go away." We're a little worried. However, it seems like Pr dictates a lot of what goes on in the house, and last time she was eager to read more in the Book of Mormon and ask God if it was true. We feel like most of the progress we make with them will come through her.
Other than that, it's been slow investigator-wise. It's exam time and summer break, so it's been nearly impossible to get a hold of anybody. It's okay though. More finding time!
Ha ha ha! Here's a funny excerpt from Søster Arbon's e-mail to her family. I love Danes. "Gol it's really hard to teach these people because of HOW much skepticism and unbelief there is here.  I can understand not wanting to be tricked or anything but if you don't have an open heart and mind, then there's no way that the Holy Ghost will be able to deliver the truth of the words.  Because they just ignore his presence.  *Frustration* "

Jeg elsker jer!
Søster Morse

Dad - Thank you for the birthday money! I haven't decided how to use it yet, but I'll let you know when I do! Things only get busier in the summer, it seems. And thank you. You know I'll always be your little girl. Oh, and again I have to comment on just how nerdy our family is. Deathstar? Really? Again, please fwd any and all kitty info on to Katie O'Very. She'd die laughing.
Mom - Thank you for the package! I wore the new clothes you sent on Sunday to church and got loads of compliments. Those shirts are really in right now, and I'd been thinking of picking one up soon. I was so happy to get it! And the lotion was wonderful. Who'd have thought I'd miss Bath and Body Works so much? I've never smelled the raspberry before, but it's really good. I'm finding out that crazily strong scented lotions is kind of an American thing. Sad. By the way, my bank card came too. Thank you for that! And my favorite scripture ... that one's hard. I have lots of favorite mission scriptures, but I think I'll just go with my all-time favorite. D&C 50:40-42 "Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost."
Katie - I hope you enjoyed that milkshake. It sounds amazing. How could you not? It's one part ice cream, two parts awesome. How'd it go getting your license? I've actually seen both White Collar and How I Met Your Mother. Both were really fun, but I didn't have time to keep up with them. You'll have to show me when I get back. Just think of how many great new books you'll be able to read now that you aren't in school! Maybe take up a new hobby? Model trains are surprisingly popular here in Denmark. Matthew would love it too. Or knitting. I'll need some more sweaters come winter. You may as well get started now. ;)
Grammy and Grandpa - Thanks for your e-mail! I'll keep Grandpa in my prayers, and I'm glad everything is progressing so well. Congratulations to Caroline too!
Supreme Mugwump - Thank you for the adorable card and the kind of weird gift. I loved them both. So did my whole District. I'll explain later. I'll write soon!