Kære Alle Sammen,
CONGRATULATIONS CHARITY AND COLLIN!!
I wish I could've been there! The invitation was so cute. I loved the photos. Will you do me a favor and send (you can just use e-mail) me photos from the wedding? The best of luck to you two!
Thanks for the correction, Dad. Yes, the week number in the subject line is the count from when I arrived in Denmark, not the MTC. For Sisters the real life/mission life conversion is about 4 years to one month, meaning the first two months in the MTC is all before you reach the age of accountability.
MA AND KIM ARE MOVING TO ODENSE!!
You guys remember Ma, right? The incredible young woman who was baptized in February back in Copenhagen? She and Kim (remember me saying she was engaged?) prayed and fasted about where to live after the wedding, and both got the clear impression that Odense was the right place for them. I'm so proud of her. Seven months ago she'd dropped all contact with the church and was living with her boyfriend. Now she's happily married to a great guy and fasting about where to begin her family. Crazy!! I nearly died of shock when she came up beside me at church and whispered "hi". Søster Moore was almost in tears. She was one of the first investigators Søster Moore ever taught, and the first (of many) she's taught to be baptized. If you'd seen Ma before, you wouldn't even recognize her now. She's amazing.
Things are going well. Gi is now a regular at the YSA Center, and she and I really got to bond last week. We were playing crud and she was my coach, giving me pep-talks and mockingly rubbing my shoulders. I pretended to dump a cooler of Gatorade on her after I won. It was a pretty dramatic show-down between Lee (the awesome assistant ward mission leader - he and his wife are easily my best friends in Odense) and me.
We had another fantastic miracle this week. That feels wrong to say, since I think we have a miracle every day out here, easily, but this was a big one. After our district meeting on Tuesday morning, our whole district got to go out and contact around Odense in different companionship combos so that we could learn from each other (yay! Elders splits!) So I was contacting with Ældste Sorensen and one of the other Elders, when a young woman and her boyfriend stopped us. She had a lot of questions about what we did as missionaries and especially what we did when we weren't out missionarying ... that doesn't work in English ... whatever, you get the idea. Anyway, we talked for a bit and invited her to our church's open house. She wasn't very interrested, but accepted a card and left. That evening on the way to an eating appointment, Søster Moore and I get a call from the CUV who got a call from the Mission Office from someone who was interrested in the Center info they found online, so we definitely had to be there that night. Turns out it was the girl, Ra, and two of her friends, An, and Na! They're all from Sweden here studying medicine, and they all got a copy of the Book of Mormon. We showed them around the church and they stayed for dinner and to play crud. They fit right in. Na took the rest of the YSA by storm in crud! They all plan on coming back next week, and said that after they've had a bit of time to read in the BoM, they'd love for us to come teach them more. It just goes to show that you never know the difference one conversation can make! It doesn't really matter what the situation is - your example will always have an effect.
So, you remember that eating appointment we were on our way to? She lives in a 100 year old house built by her great grandparents that has always been and will always be in the family. That's easy, since her family is about 1/4 of the ward here. Seriously. Everyone in the ward is somehow related to the Karnill, Barkou, or Andersen (as in our former mission president) families. The best thing about the house is the basement, which was built along the lines of an old monastery with all the arches and cool niches everywhere. The best thing about the basement the wine cellar, which is can only be accessed through the secret door behind the swinging bookshelf. I'm not even joking. The best thing about the wine cellar is that back during WWII, Sister Karnill's great grandfather used it to hide a business friend of his who was a Jew during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. We got to go tour her basement and wander around the little wine cellar. I wasn't able to get any good pictures, but Lee and Ximena live there with her right now, and they promised to show us some time. We're over there for dinner with them pretty much weekly, so I promise I'll send some soon.
We had another big exploratory adventure (no more jokes from you, Dad) - but this one wasn't actually my fault and it was all on bikes, so it only took about an hour. We've started enjoying them, actually, because 1. we always meet people we wouldn't have if things had gone according to OUR plans, 2. we often find great new areas to knock or contact, and 3. we get to burn off some of the calories from the eating appointments. The members play dirty. When we lean back from the table or even slow down, they look us in the eyes like they're challenging us and say, "Eat, if you like it." Our usual response is, "We LOVE it, but we don't think we can fit any more in!" Then the member affects a disappointed air and retorts, "I don't believe you. If you liked it, you'd eat more." This is usually done by hilarious old Danish ladies (80 year old firecrackers, every one of them), and usually after about 4 times what a normal person would eat. I love the members here. The Danish rule of hospitality is that if your guest spends more than 30 seconds in your home without food or drink in their hands, you, as a host, are a waste of a body. I love the Danish culture, and I'm so excited to introduce you to some of the members when we visit. You'd love them too.
Jeg elsker jer!
Mom - Thanks for the talk. It's true. My attitude toward coming to church has totally changed since becoming a missionary and going in with the attitude of looking to serve others. I get so much more out of it. I'm sure it will help her too.
Katie - You little player! Wow. Crazy high school parties, dating up a storm. Your life is just like a high school tv drama. With AP classes. Yeah, Atwood loves to call on people he thinks know the answer, even (especially) if they don't raise their hand. So you're turning into a mini-me, huh? It was scary hearing you on Skype. It was like talking with myself. I'm super curious for what it will be like when I get home! P.S. You'll have to keep up on music for me and show me all of the good stuff when I get home. My music tastes will be so 2011. Tell Brother Andersen that Hannah Morse and Katie O'Very say hi. If he doesn't remember us, then tell him it's the two girls who always pulled their desks together. It sounds like you're doing lots and doing it all well. I'm so impressed and so proud. You're seriously the best little sister ... pretty much ever. When's your European debut? (Translation: When are you going to Italy?)
Dad - Thank you soooo much for the photo you sent. I cracked up ... when I finally got it. Thanks too for the story you shared about the Sacrament. It's true. I was doing some church history reading and found out that the Sacrament didn't used to be given every Sunday, simply because it was so sacred. It's awe-inspiring too to think that this is one of the most sacred ordinances of the church, and it's given with very few limitations to almost anyone who wants to renew those covenants. It's the perfect symbol of the Atonement, and it's definitely underappreciated sometimes. That young man's story really puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?
Andrew - Way to go! Dad told me that you got up and shared your testimony with everyone all by yourself. A testimony is a very powerful thing to have, and it only gets better when you share it. Do you remember how good you felt when you shared your testimony? That's how you get to feel aaaaaall the time as a missionary! You'll get to feel like that for two whole years! And as you're doing it, you'll help people find testimonies of their own. That, and you get lots of letters from home, so that's really fun too. I'm so proud of you!
Caleb - I got your letter! And I mailed one back. Are you still living in Provo? It's actually addressed to Ryan, since there are a few letters in there for him too. It was great to hear from you!
Supreme Mugwump - Ha! I wrote. That's so cool that you were able to see Lulu and Hilda Franco! They're actually on the roadtrip list I forgot I made in the back of my journal. We'll talk names for the roadtrip later. I tossed out a few suggestions in the letter. Thanks for the scriputure reference. I know it's talking about bulls, but I can't seem to get "The Last Unicorn" out of my head. Korihor is doing well. He misses you, and says to tell Hna Palacios hi.