Monday, December 22, 2014

WEEK 19: God Jul! and "I know that book is true. I am happy to read it every day because it makes me feel close to God. Can I get baptized next weekend?"

Danish Phrase of the Week: God Jul! (Goal Yool) Merry Christmas!

We got transfer calls this morning! Drumroll....I'M STAYING IN FREDERIKSBERG! Søster Reed, my baby!, is transferring to Slagelse, and I'm staying here in Frederiksberg :) 6 months in one area! My new companion is also named Søster Reed, and she was in my Søster Reed's MTC group. So they're the same age in the mission. She's the one that we were combined with that week we were a three-som! It's going to be a blast. I am honestly so excited to be staying. I LOVE this area. I love the ward, I love the city, I love the wonderful people we're working with-this is going to be a great transfer. And the ward members won't even have to learn a new name :) Still Søster Van Orden and Søster Reed. Love it.

We had another miraculous week. Christmas is such an incredible time of year! Yesterday, we got a referral from some missionaries in another area to go visit the friend of a less-active they're working with. We were told not to say who sent us, we were just told that this woman 'needed God in her life.' So, with not a whole lot to go on except for an address, we stopped by her apartment. One tricky thing about Copenhagen is that everyone lives in big apartment buildings, and all of the buildings have buzz boxes that let you in to the building itself. So before you can even get up to their front door, you have to ring their buzz box and ask if they will let you in to the building-and THEN you have to go knock on their door. It's just one more 'obstacle' we have to get past. A lot of times people say no at the buzz box before we even get the chance to knock on their door and see their face! So we knew that we only had one chance with this lady. Something told us that she wouldn't even buzz us up if we announced ourselves as missionaries. We felt prompted to ask instead if we could sing a Christmas song to her. After a couple seconds of silence she said, 'det må i gerne.' (Yes.) And she buzzed us up. Then, we knocked on her door and as soon as she saw our nametags she got a little suspicious. But she let us in anyways and we sang Glædelig Jul, Dejlige Jul (the Danish version of Silent Night). She listened quietly to the first two verses, and then started singing with us on the 3rd and 4th. When the song was over her whole attitude towards us was completely changed! She told us that she had been sitting in her apartment just feeling sad, sad about Christmas, sad because she hurt her leg so she can't walk very well right now-and then as soon as we started singing she forgot how sad she was. She was so thankful that we came and sang to her! It was such an amazing testimony to me of the Lord's timing. We were able to find her and help her feel hope and love at a time in her day when she was feeling the most alone. It was one of the most special experiences on my mission so far.

Aviaaja is still being a rockstar in Greenland. She contacted our mission president and ordered 20 copies of the Book of Mormon to give to her friends! She also told us that she wants to serve a mission! That girl is such a light. I am so grateful every day that I know her. She's hoping to be able to come to Copenhagen sometime in January-ANOTHER REASON WHY I'M SO GLAD I'M STAYING IN FREDERIKSBERG!! I'll be able to see her!

More Christmas miracles-Hanne, a less-active woman with an INCREDIBLE testimony was finally able to come to church yesterday. She asked us to come pick her up and take the bus with her because she knew that if we were there to get her, she wouldn't back out at the last minute. :) We picked her up and it seemed like she just had the best time! I am so grateful for her faithful home and visiting teachers who have been such good friends to her and visited her every single month. It means so much, it makes SUCH a difference. I just about cried in Relief Society when I saw Hanne sitting there-following along with the lesson on her iPad-surrounded by friends reaching out to her and expressing how happy they were to see her. It was such a sweet experience.

Søster Reed and I have been praying to find other less-active members in our ward who want to come back to the church. A woman named Beatriz-who is originally from where Sara Marie is serving her mission!-came to church yesterday and brought her son, and told us that she wanted to start being an example to her family and bring her children to church. She has a lot of opposition from her husband, but she is determined! She invited us over to eat lunch with her on Saturday and we are so excited to get to know her and help her in any way we can!
AND, a less-active member we've been trying to get in touch with for a couple of months invited us over for an appointment tomorrow! Our prayers were answered in so many unexpected ways this week.

Other awesome thing-we invited a man named Carl to be baptized and he accepted! Here is how we met Carl. That week that we were a tri-panionship, we were in the library emailing on P-Day. That was a week where my email home was way's because I was talking to Carl. :) We were sitting there emailing and an African man leaned over to me and just started chatting- asking me questions about what I was doing in Denmark, where I was from...when I told him I was a missionary he was like, 'I like going to other churches and hearing the preachers!' I invited him to come to our church and he said, I can't this Sunday but next Sunday, yes. Call me to remind me.” Well, he couldn't come to church, but we offered to give him a church tour instead. That he could do. We taught him about the Restoration and he was so intrigued. He was like, 'I've never heard anything like this before, but it makes sense that God could call a prophet again.' We gave him a Book of Mormon and told him that the way he would know if what we were saying was true was if he read this book and asked for an answer from God. So-fast forward to this appointment-he said, 'I know that book is true. I am happy to read it every day because it makes me feel close to God. Can I get baptized next weekend?' We were like (screaming and shouting for joy on the inside but keeping it chill on the outside) We still have some more lessons to teach you, but we can absolutely set a baptismal date! YAY CARL! So, right now the goal is for the 31st of January. THIS IS AMAZING!!!!

Also, last thing. We were contacted by a young Danish man named Andreas out of the blue-he's not a member of the church but his aunt and uncle served a mission here a few years ago, he's met with missionaries before, and he called us and asked if we wanted to meet. We brought a member with us and really didn't know what to expect from this meeting...but we were excited! We were so amazed to find out that he has incredible faith in God (very rare in Denmark). He has complete faith in the fact that God can lead us down better paths than we can ever find on our own. He talked a lot about how there is a good way to live your life, but there is also a better way, and a best way. He wants to find the best way. He came to church yesterday-and he also knows a bunch of people in the ward! Goodness. Miracles abound.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

WEEK 17: Being a Missionary @ Christmastime is THE BEST; Please send more warm tights & socks

Danish phrase of the week: MUSIK (moo-SEEK) You don't even need the gift of tongues to figure out what this one means!

Being a missionary around Christmas-time is hands down the best thing. This is such an incredible time of year, and it's so natural to talk to people about Jesus Christ and the gift that he is to the world. Our mission is studying Christ-like attributes in Preach My Gospel right now, and it is a perfect time of year to be doing that. I am so grateful to have him as a perfect example, and a perfect friend. He is always there to help us as we work to become more like him. And as we become more like him, we receive more joy, more blessings, and more strength and perspective through our trials. It's because of him that we can be happy, become better, and return to live with our loving Heavenly Father again.

We watched Frozen-President's surprise Christmas present during zone conference-and I have never SEEN Elders get more excited about a Princess movie-or ANYTHING-in my whole life. They were SCREAMING they were so excited! I mean, the Sisters were excited too, but we were a little more dignified about it I think. :) It was so fun. But now it's not so fun because the Frozen quotes have not stopped. It's been a whole week with no end in sight. It's fine.

We had an amazing Stake Christmas concert last night. It was so well done. The chapel was packed and a couple of our investigators were able to be there as well! I sang the First Noel with Søster Reed playing the flute and we rocked it I am proud to say. It was a really really special night. I LOVE this time of year-music is such a huge part of it all and it's the best.

The work is going really well. We consistently have investigators coming to church every week, and we have had some really incredible lessons. One of our investigators had a complete change of heart this week. She has been investigating off and on for years. From reading her teaching record, it sounds like in the past she just argued a lot with the missionaries and wasn't super open to their message. But Søster Reed and I have built an awesome friendship with her over the past couple of weeks, and she told us Sunday night that she was ready to give herself the freedom to really listen to us. And she's excited about it too! It was such a miracle.

I hope you all are doing well. Christmas break is coming!!  And I'm so excited to Skype home on Christmas day! I'll figure out more details with that soon. A really sweet family in our ward invited us over to Skype at their house. So. That will be fabulous.
Mom! I'm so proud of you! You are an awesome lady. Saruh Jane Fenton sent me a little run-down of how the family's doing, and when she got to you she said, 'your mom is carrying on like the amazing goddess that she is-' and I thought that that sounded pretty accurate.  Thanks for always being such a great example to me...and to everyone. All the time.

Okay-when that temple open house happens, INVITE THE WORLD! Miracles are happening in Fort Collins :)

It sounds like the studio is doing well too. It looks like a fun season! It's so awesome what you do with those kids. I've talked about it with a couple of my companions-and they all think it's such a great thing. Theater at a young age can either be competitive and catty, full of crazy stage moms, and tear down your confidence and make it so that you never want to do another play ever again for the rest of your life (that's what our Søster Training leader had to say about it); or it can be fun and uplifting and give kids a chance to realize that they can do hard things. I feel like you do such a great thing with providing that opportunity for the community to come together and just have a great experience. It's awesome.  YAY MOM.

So Søster Handley took my camera charger home with her I'm pretty sure, so my camera has been dead for the last couple of weeks. I'll try to see if I can find one here, but I'm not sure if I can. Also, warm tights and warm boot socks are always a good idea. Other than that-I'm pretty well taken care of out here :)
I get to Skype you all on Christmas day! That's coming up! I'll be Skyping at a member's house starting at 3 pm our time - so I'm not sure what time that would be for you...but we'll get more details about that as it gets closer. YAY! [Notice she said this twice; she must be looking forward to it.  So are we!] I seriously love you all so much. I miss you and pray for you all every day! Have a great week!

Monday, December 1, 2014

WEEK 15: Wind, Cold, Christmas is Coming!! & He Is The Gift

Danish phrase of the week: Det blæser! (day blay-ser) TRANSLATION: IT IS SO WINDY I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THIS KIND OF WIND WAS POSSIBLE.

Seriously. It is so windy. AND COLD! All the time! People keep telling me to buckle up, it's just getting started. Awesome.

Just that much more motivation to stay busy and make sure that we have a lot of teaching appointments so we don't ever have to go outside! :) The members really have been way awesome about feeding us lately. The Relief Society president gave us a shout-out from the pulpit last Sunday. She was like, "Feed the missionaries! It's almost Christmas and it's cold outside!"  I love that woman.

So, our Thanksgiving dinner with the American guy didn't end up happening-his wife had work-bummer-BUT, a Danish family from our ward invited us all over and fed us. They kind of tried to make it like American food, but the only thing kind of traditional Thanksgiving about it was that one of the meats they used was turkey breast. But hey, it was delicious, and we were super grateful for it.

So the church has released a new Christmas video called He Is the Gift! CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!

It's really beautiful, and every mission in the world is getting new pass-along cards that link directly to this video. We've been asked to give out at least 10 a day through the entire month of December. We also share it in members' homes during eating appointments, and it's amazing to feel the Spirit that comes as we watch it. So-share it with your friends! Use Facebook for good :)

I translated my first sacrament meeting yesterday! That was scary-but I prayed a lot of prayers and it actually went really well!

Søster Reed and I have been rocking it. Exciting things are happening in our area and we're learning a lot! Sometimes it's overwhelming to think about all of the things that I need to improve on and how far I still have to go-but I'm trying not to let it get me down and just working on doing a little bit better every day.

I love you all! It sounds like Thanksgiving was so much fun-I'm glad everyone got to be together! Have a fantastic week :)

WEEK 14: Edith's baptism & "there is a light about all of you that is really quite amazing"

Edith's baptism!! She is so cute! She was literally dancing all evening.

Danish word of the week: Taknemlighed (Tak-nem-lee-hill) GRATITUDE. Happy Thanksgiving!

We had such a fun week! We got to go to the temple twice in one weekend, and Edith got baptized! Also, København is starting to decorate for Christmas and it is GORGEOUS. I love this city!

It's getting to the point where I've been in this area long enough to feel like I really know people well. I feel like I'm friends with the people in my ward, with the people we're teaching, and with the other missionaries. I loved them all right away, that's one of the blessings of being a missionary, I think-the ability to love people even if you don't know them that well, but it's an even greater blessing to really feel close to them. I really felt that a lot this week.

We had Søster Reed's 'one month in the land' meeting on Friday which is always so much fun. It's where all of the trainers and trainees get together and basically have a giant family reunion and tell crazy mission stories. President also gave us a great lesson about what it means to walk with Christ. Christ has called us to follow Him, and, let's be honest, following Him isn't always the easiest road. The Savior endured a lot of trials and hardships in His life, but look at where His road leads! Of course we're going to have hard things happen to us, but because of the Gospel, we know that no trial, shortcoming, or pain is permanent. His is the path that leads to eternal life in the presence of God! That's a pretty incredible destination. We studied Elder Hollands talk, The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship, and I would really encourage all of you to read it as well! It's Elder Holland. Who doesn't love Elder Holland? :)

As part of the one month meeting, we got to all go through the temple together. In Danish. På dansk. It was so special to be in the temple with all of these missionaries. THEN, we got to go to the temple the next day because one of Søster Reed's Danish friends is getting ready to go on a mission to London, and President gave us permission to go through the temple again with her. Fabulous weekend!

Edith's baptism was so sweet. She was walking on air.

We had a lesson with one of our investigators this last week that really built my testimony. She is a woman who has been meeting with missionaries for a long time, and she has a hard time accepting prayer as a legitimate way to receive answers. We're great friends with her, and she actually helps us with Language Study sometimes. During one of our Danish lessons we kind of went on a tangent about why she has been investigating the church for so long. She says that with all of the problems she has, she can't deny that there is something different about the members. She especially mentioned that there is something different about the youth-that there is an openness and a 'solid-ness' that you don't find in a lot of young people in the world today. She said, exact words- that 'there is a light about all of you that is really quite amazing.' She asked us why we think that is, and we told her that it is because as members of the church, we try to center our lives around Christ. How he lived, how he taught, how he treated others, and how he always gave the glory to God. It was a really special experience to have that conversation with her and to be able to bear our testimonies of how the gospel really does give us a sure foundation and a light.
I love you all so much-thanks for everything you do! Have a fun Thanksgiving with our huge crazy wonderful family!!

They decorated the front of this building like the Nutcracker. I thought that all of my ballerina 
cousins would appreciate that.

Blurry...but they hang these lights with hearts in the middle all over the city! Hearts are a really big symbol for Christmas here.
[Note from Jill: I crocheted that red scarf she is wearing!! I'm so glad she can actually wear it and it looks good!!]