Monday, October 20, 2014

WEEK 10: We have no idea what we're doing but we're excited about it!

Danish word of the week: velsignelser (vel-SEEN-els-er) BLESSINGS

First full week as a trainer-CHECK. We have gotten super lost like twice ... we're basically late all the time to everything but we're working on that one ... but we're doin' this thing! We have no idea what we're doing but we're excited about it! :) 

I don't really know what to say except that it is amazing how much the Spirit helps us every day when we invite it. I am so grateful that I have the Spirit to be MY trainer while my companion and I try to figure out this mission thing. :) 

On kind of a serious-but-then-it-turns-happy note: The first couple of days of training were REALLY hard. I finally understood why people say that a mission is the hardest thing they've ever done. I felt anxious all the time, I felt inadequate, I beat myself up about every little mistake I made and it was not a healthy mindset. I had a hard time sleeping at night and I just looked at the upcoming days with basically hopelessness because I had no idea what to fill them with. It was rough. But I kept going back to the blessing I received right before I started training and all of the many stories in the scriptures where blessings come after the trial of our faith. Those were my anchors and my sources of hope. I decided a couple of days into training to fast for sanity. I realized that I was NOT going to be able to make it through the next 12 weeks without some extra help. The day I decided to fast was the day where everything turned around. It was a pretty average missionary day schedule-wise, we taught some lessons, contacted, went to an eating appointment; but the spirit that I felt with me was entirely different. I felt so much peace and an inner-strength that I felt I had lost. I knew that I couldn't do it by myself, but I also knew that God was with me. I am so grateful for that day on my mission. I will always be able to look back on that turning point and know without a doubt that God strengthens us in our weakness. He doesn't take our problems away, but he gives us strength beyond our own to press forward, learn, and find our hope again!

Since that day-last Wednesday, our companionship has been doing so well. We have been learning SO MUCH every day. It seems like after every single person we contact, every lesson, every dinner appointment, everything we do, a voice comes into my mind and says, 'ok, what I wanted you to learn from that was this and this and this.' So really, I haven't been doing any of the training. It's all coming from Heavenly Father. And now we are just so excited! We talk to people all the time and they're totally understanding about our Danish - they're actually really impressed and want to listen to us more when they find out that we haven't been in the land for very long. We have met so many interesting, kind people in the last week. Heavenly Father is blessing us so much!

One of the best experiences we had this week was with a YSA member in our ward. We were going over to Skype with Aviaaja at her house, but Aviaaja ended up having to cancel our appointment. So instead of leaving the member's house without teaching anything, we asked her if there was anything we could do for her. It turns out that she's been thinking about going through the temple and she wanted to hear our thoughts about it! She had some concerns about not being ready--the normal pre-temple concerns--and we were just able to share our testimonies about how the temple has given us so much strength and a deeper understanding of our relationship with God. It's something to be excited about, not afraid of! We invited her to pray specifically about what she should do, and promised her that Heavenly Father would answer her. There are a lot of voices and opinions swirling around, but there is one voice that we know we can always listen to and trust! 

And then we got to Skype with Aviaaja the next day and she is still doing SO WELL. She is so joyful. I am just amazed every time I talk to her by her understanding of the gospel. She has been a member for like a month and a half and she teaches US! I don't even know what to say. I just want you all to meet her. I want EVERYONE to meet her. AND she said that she likes our American accents when we speak Danish. I don't know why but that made me feel super validated. 

I got to sing in church yesterday!  That felt good. I can't speak Danish yet, I have yet to teach a perfect lesson, but you best believe I can bust out a musical number!! It was nice to do something that I felt semi-competent at. :)


That's basically what's happening! I love hearing from all of you-thanks for all of the emails and updates. It means a lot to me! What is everyone being for Halloween?? I know Emma probably has about 50 ideas. They don't celebrate Halloween here so I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about that. 

Have a fantastic week!

Love, Søster VO

Sounds like a great week!!!

           I'm so glad you got to go to the Sisters Retreat! I'm sure those 5 performers in that theater were just overwhelmed with the unbelievable amount of cackling and scream laughing coming from the Sister's Retreat corner. You all are the best audience; I can't even imagine. Oh wait, yes I can.

          I'm so glad that Saruh Jane is back on our couch! I forgot to comment on that last week! I love her and I'm glad she's there to have dance parties and eat our food :)

          You did so good as Stake Young Women's President! I had a similar thought come into my mind like three weeks before I found out I was going to train - that it was probably going to be me and I should get ready! I'm super grateful to the Spirit for giving us a little heads up about things like that.

        Love you all! Tell Frandy congrats on his game and Emma that I'm still laughing about the 'drive more slowlyer' sign. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WEEK 9 and then some: General Conference and Don't Be The Rabbit!!

Dear Everyone:  
So did you love General Conference? I got to watch it in English. They broadcasted it in our chapel and there was a Danish room and and English room. President always wants us to watch Conference in our native language, no matter how good our Danish is. I love Conference. It is always such an amazing boost, and it's so fantastic to listen to it as a missionary!  It just gives all of their words a totally new perspective. 

Ok. So. I said goodbye to Søster Handley today. We have this joke that she was my trainer for the mission field and I was her trainer for the real world. I taught her all about hashtags and snapchat and all of the slang she'll need to understand when she gets home. So hopefully that'll ease the transition a little bit :)

AND I'M TRAINING A NEW MISSIONARY! I'm companions with two other sisters right now who will also be trainers-we meet our new trainees on Wednesday. I have only been in the land for six weeks, the training program is 12 weeks long ... I'm only halfway trained! I'm nervous, but I know that everything is going to be okay. I got a blessing from the Elders in my district that was so comforting. It basically said that as long as I rely on the Spirit, I will be blessed to know where to go and what to say to find people who are prepared to hear the gospel from me and my new missionary. It's really easy to get scared and overwhelmed when I think about all of the responsibilities that are being transferred to me right now, but as long as I remember that blessing and have faith in those promises, I know my new companion and I are going to see miracles! I just keep saying over and over again in my head: Faith not fear! Faith not fear!

President has been teasing me about it a lot though. The other day at zone training he just came up to me and was like, “So Søster Van Orden, are you ready for this? Two brand new missionaries...biggest city in Denmark...four more days!”  I was like, “President you are not making me feel any better!!” 

It's honestly pretty humbling to think that Heavenly Father is trusting me with this right now. I have no idea what I did to make Him think that I'm ready, but apparently He thinks I am, so here we go! haha :) I also know it's going to be really hard. Training is hard no matter what. But the most important lesson a missionary can learn is how to rely on the Spirit, and this experience is going to teach me how to do that really quickly. 

Ok I wanted to share a story with all of you. We heard it from a woman in our ward named Deidre. She's a return missionary, so she's always just been really good friends with the missionaries who come through the ward in Frederiksberg. She told us this little analogy last week. She said:

“I was in a pet store one day, holding a rabbit. It was totally calm, holding totally still. I had a good hold on it, and it was perfectly safe. I didn't move or adjust my grip on the rabbit at all, but all of a sudden it noticed that it was 5 feet off the ground and started panicking. It squirmed and tried to jump out of my arms because it was scared to be up so high. The rabbit was still perfectly safe, I was still holding on to it, but it didn't trust me anymore and so it panicked. I knew that if the rabbit jumped it could get hurt, so I kept holding on.”  She tied that little experience to our relationship with God. God is always right there calmly holding us and supporting us. As long as we hold still and stay with him, we're perfectly safe. But sometimes we notice that we're high off the ground and start to panic. Our first instinct is sometimes to jump away from God, but that actually puts us in more danger than if we would just continue to trust him and stay with him. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. He's always right there. So, don't freak out about training a new missionary Sister Van Orden! You're going to be fine! Don't be the rabbit!

Anyways. There are a lot of exciting things happening, and I love my crazy cool family. Har det godt! Jeg elsker jer!

Søster VO

Letter to Diana Briscoe: [Diana prefacing] We were talking about how she is training this girl named Vashti who I know while I [Diana] was a missionary. Vashti is a girl from Utah who lived in Denmark for about 6 months while training as a ballroom dancer. 

[AMANDA] I am training Vashti! Ok-crazy story-President told me a week before training happened to study the story of Esther. He said he didn't know why but he just felt like I should study it. GUESS WHERE THE NAME VASHTI COMES FROM? The story of Esther. That was a fun little miracle. I think it's Heavenly Father's way of reminding me that I'm not alone out here. Training is so scary, but I really have felt Heavenly Father helping me. I'm trying not to be hard on myself when I make mistakes. I feel like I'm not a very good missionary sometimes! But I'm trying hard and hopefully getting a little bit better every day!

Søster Reed is fantastic. She is so prepared and I know we're supposed to be companions! I think a lot of great things are going to happen in our area :)

Haha I talk about you all the time too! I went on splits with Søster Ripplinger and again with Søster Hale and I hope you know that everyone just thinks the world of you out here :) You worked so hard! I just keep telling everyone that you were basically born to be a missionary so I'm not surprised!

The Gladsaxe Søstre lived with us last transfer but they got a new apartment this transfer! She's serving with a girl from my MTC district right now who is so sweet - They're going to do great together!

I love you!! Let me know if you have any training wisdom :) Have a happy week!

Letter to her Dad:
DAD! I can't believe I'm training already either! This is without a doubt one of the scariest things I've ever done: I'm in the biggest city in Denmark with a brand new missionary and I kind of speak Danish but not really and I'm responsible for people's eternal salvation! It's so hard, but don't worry. I'm doing great. We're actually working really well together and we haven't gotten lost yet! But if you remember any advice that would be really fabulous to hear :) Also the Ward is taking really good care of us. So that's nice :)

There have actually been a couple of times over the last week where I haven't known where to go or what to do, and I have felt like ideas come to my mind to tell me who to visit or even what to say when I don't really understand their Danish. It's been a really special experience because I literally have no choice but to rely on Heavenly Father and I have really been able to notice the help that he's giving me

I'm trying not to be too hard on myself because I still make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes all I can do is work hard every day and try to be a little bit better every day. My companion is really great about reminding me that I've only been out for six weeks and so of course I'm not going to know everything! It can be a lot of pressure but for the most part I feel good and I'm excited! 

THE CSU RAMS! Dreams come true! Sad about BYU though. They'll figure it out one of these days! 

Love you!