Kære Alle Sammen,
Oh my goodness. Can you believe it's already been 28 weeks since Mom and Dad dropped me off at the MTC? That's insane.
Life with Søster Moore is awesome. Our outlook on life and misisonary work is pretty similar, and we've had a lot of fun together. We both like cooking, and have even been adventurous enough to try our hand and home made hummus. So far so good! It feels more like living with a friend than just a companion. She's super fun and always up for an adventure (which happens a lot with my sense of direction), and it's hard to believe we haven't even been companions for one week yet.
You know that sense of direction I mentioned? Yeah. It got us into trouble. We had plans to help a less active woman in the ward who is only less active because she's pretty old and can't get out to the church anymore. We were going to mow her grass and clean up her garden, which would ordinarily be no problem. The bus drives right past the end of her street, after all. Or so we thought. It was our first day together and we were both keeping our eyes open to make sure everything went well. We were about five stops before the one we were supposed to get off at. Then, all of a sudden, we were about 12 stops AFTER ours. We hopped off the bus and checked the schedule going the other way. We were way out in the country, so the bus only came once an hour. We decided to just walk back. After all, about 3 minutes before we'd been way before our stop. We'd find it.
Two hours later we were still walking on the shoulder of that country road with nothing but trees and cows. We sang old Girls Camp songs to keep us entertained though, and we were in jeans for the service project, so it wasn't too bad. After about another hour we came (with NO sign of the less active's street), we were back at the stops before the one we wanted in the first place. We found a "Pick Your Own Flowers" patch though, so we plucked ourselves a bouquet of gladioli and sun flowers. When we got back to the city we got ourselves some bubble tea (not real tea!) to reward ourselves for not complaining, then went home and died. And that was just the first day!
On Saturday half of Denmark had medieval festivals of varying sizes. The one in Odense was held in a few old, winding, cobblestone streets behind the Catholic church. It was fun to wander through all the stalls and see the reenactors dressed up all Viking. They even had an entire roasted pig, which was disgustingly awesome and sooooo delicious. Søster Moore and I also wove our own baskets. Legitimate baskets. Yes, Dad, I was singing "They're Coming to Take Me Away" in my head the whole time.
Later we helped a family move and clean up their house. We were in the upstairs bathroom with a clogged sink full of black water, spiders everywhere, and a good half inch of solid fuzzy dust/mold on the pipes and counters. Uuuugh. One of the most disgusting things I've ever done in my life though. But Søster Moore and I still managed to make it fun by doodling in the dust as we mopped the walls and trying to eat the potato chips the family left upstairs with us without touching them at all.
On Sunday we had another one of those monthly sacrament meetings down in the southern half of the island for the members down there. Only one 90 year old woman came, bring the total head count up to 5 with her, the Senior Couple, and us. Ældste Olsen conducted, blessed, and passed the sacrament in about a minute and a half, Søster Moore played the right hand of the first verse of a hymn, and Ældste Olsen shared a spiritual thought from his scripture study in place of a talk. The whole meeting took about 10 minutes, but the Spirit was still strong. It only underscored the real purpose of SACRAMENT meeting. Afterward the 90 year old woman (who was still as sharp as every) invited us over to have cake at her house. Two of her good friends had passed away that week, so she just needed the company. We're teachers and representatives of the Church, but a good part of what we do is just being the friend some people really need. It may not lead to a baptism, but you know what? I can't think of any better way to represent the Savior or fulfill my call to serve. Those have been some of my favorite times on my mission and when I've felt the Spirit strogest. This woman was so fun too. Ældste Olsen said we weren't that hungry, and she didn't need to make a fuss about getting food ready. She just started going faster on her walker and called out behind her, "Well, that's not up to you to decide, young man." She also ordered us not to help with the dishes, but I grabbed a stack of plates and said, "Sure, but if I run with them I don't think you could catch me!" She just reached out and spanked me as I dashed past. She gave us the biggest hugs as we left, and told us to drop in again any time we were in the area. She had the coolest life story too. She married a German who'd spent most of his life in Denmark, but after World War II none of the universities would let him study here, since he was technically German. So they used her half Swedish citizenship from her mother's side to escape a lot of the anti-German persecution post-war and just lived in Sweden for a while. She's still fluent in German and Sweden, and travels all over. I'll be satisfied if I'm half that cool when I'm 90. All of the time driving and setting up for the sacrament meeting was more than worth it for this one Sister who needed us.
The Olsens told us a cool story from another sacrament meeting down there too. They were just about to begin when a van pulled up to drop off an old sailor crippled by arthritis and strokes. They couldn't get his wheel chair up into the church building, and the van couldn't take him home again until the scheduled time on the next hospital route. He was devestated, but trying to keep a brave face as he turned his wheelchair to just try to start on his way home. Ældste Olsen just got the strongest feeling from the Spirit to do everything possible to fix the problem. "If you can't get him to the meeting, then you just take the meeting to him!" So they set up a chair outside and he and Søster Olsen listened to the service from the windows. He barely managed to take the bread himself, but just shook his head as the water was brought out to him. "I can't do that," he said, "I just can't." Ældste Olsen just smiled and took the cup for him, lifting it to the man's mouth to pour it in. As the man swallowed, he began to cry. "This is why I came. This is it. This is worth all of it. Thank you." Like you said, Dad, some people's greatest need is simply to be know that their Father in Heaven and their Savior love them. Seeing those moments when that love is put into action makes everything else worth it.
All in all it's been a long, messy, super fun week!
St is still committed, so it's just keeping him on the path until he feels his life is sorted out enough. That's one thing about Danes. They have everything in their worlds very organized and very much in control. If that balance of control is shaken at all, they have a hard time keeping a grip on everything else. So it makes sense for him to feel like he has to have everything in order before proceeding farther. The government structure here and the social priviledges they enjoy as a country underline that, ensuring that no one needs to worry too much. There's a reason Danes are statistically the happiest people in the world. When you don't need to worry about your physical, monetary, or educational stability, it's very easy to maintain a steady grip on your world. That's why it seems like most of the people we teach are either really young or have been forced to be humbled by circumstance, because most Danes simply feel they have no need for a religion to fix their problems, and belief in God is popularly seen as weaker people looking for a way out. I love the Danes though. They are also a very generous, giving people, even if they are a bit more reserved with how they express affection. They're wonderful.
Gi came to Family Home Evening to say goodbye to Søster Johnson and had a great time with the YSA's there. She's come for ages, and they all see her as one of the group. The Senior Missionary Couple who run the Center here were thrilled to see her. As Søster Olsen told her, "You're one of our girls, Gi. It doesn't matter what you do, you'll always be one of our girls. You know you're always welcome here." We hope she keeps up contact with the CUV here, if nothing else.
Si is doing well. We haven't been able to meet with her, but she came to church last Sunday and plans to come again next week too!
Ol is still Ol. He's busy with school starting up, but is trying to fit us into his schedule. He still keeps up with his reading in the Book of Mormon though, so that's fantastic. He's also started calling us the "M&M's". Sigh.
We're working with a few less active members in the ward too. One, Mi, came to all three hours of church last week! She's in her 50's, from northern India (lived her most of her life though), and really wants to come back. I think I've written about her before. In Relief Society she was warmly welcomed, and even commented during the lesson. I was just sitting behind her grinning the whole time.
Jeg elsker jer!
1. The pick your own flower patch.
2. God bless nerds.
3. Svendborg, the city in Southern Fyn where we have our meetings.
4. "Bring out the pig!" (William, you might not want to see this one)
Mom - It's good to hear that the students are doing well, even if the teachers are a bit on-edge. You've always been great at calming people down and finding the heart of the problem though, so it's good that the school has you. You might want to get some other pictures for your screen saver. After 8 months of life as a Sister Missionary (no dentist, no hair cuts, etc.) I'm afraid I'll just traumatize your computer.
Greg - I hope you get well soon! I'm sorry you the surgery knocked you off your feet for a few weeks, but it'll be nice to have some down time, however forced it may be. Netflix makes those down days easier though, doesn't it?
William - It's so good to hear from you. What's your new address? I'll have to write to you! Isn't it fun living on your own? What are your roommates like? Where will you be going to school? Man, I miss that "electric green gold". There are so many things you'd love about Denmark. It's a really crazy, fun place. Everything Humon stereotyped is totally true. You'd like it, I think. It's such an easy place to kick back and just enjoy life. Outside of central Copenhagen, no one really rushes for anything and life just comes as it comes. I miss watching movies with you and just hanging out, but I'm sure you're keeping yourself busy and the time will be over before you know it. The assistant ward mission leader here has become a really good friend of mine. On Sunday he joked that when he woke up that morning his hair looked like a Saiyan. He and his wife are also devout One Piece fans. Remember watching that together? We'll have to get back into it when I get home and have some good quality hang out time. What comes before part B? Partay!! Yes. Good times when I get back to real life. "Get out of my room!" Going into my room is easy enough. Finding your way back out of the maze of stuff is just my revenge. Thanks for the story. I even copied it down in my day calendar so I have it on hand. It's totally true. A good percentage of the Danish population here struggles with depression (I can't blame them. They have to deal with Scandinavian winters with only 4 hours of sun), and you can really see how discouragement just takes is steady toll. When people forget who they really are and forget how much they're worth, everything else just ceases to matter. That's a lot of what we do here - sharing the meaning of the Atonement with people to just remind them that they are loved. Just knowing who you really are makes all the difference in the world. Seriously, send me your address. I would love to write you! Love you!
Dad - I just about died laughing at your Finding Nemo quote. I really miss going back to school, actually. It feels so unnatural. That's so weird that Madeliene is coming back soon. Crazy crazy crazy. And I'll keep Carter in my prayers, of course, as the hurricane comes in. It sounds like all the back to school stuff is keeping you guys super busy, but that's half the thrill of this time of year! The other half is new school clothes. ;) Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Say hi to everyone for me tonight!
Supreme Mugwump - I wish you could've been at that medieval festival with me. It just took me back to all those other fun, nerdy times together. Søster Moore her boyfriend on his mission in Spain exchange videos through some Google plus page thing that's totally white handbook kosher. She's going to show me how to set it up today. Let's do it! I took a bunch of fun videos for you on that H+K memory card to mail to you, but it randomly went missing from the secure location where I kept it. I'll keep looking. This is probably better though. You've been in my thoughts and prayers a lot lately, and I really, really, really, really, really miss you. Er ... that is all.
Søster Arbon and Søster Taylor - I'm so jealous you guys got to go to Kronborg AND meet Elder Groberg. You got to meet Jean! THE JEAN!! You guys are just living the blessed life over there on the Devil's Island. We won't have splits, so we'll just have to be better about writing ... heh heh ... yeah right. Well, we'll try! (Not so secret message: you guys are awesome too!)