Friday, November 21, 2014

WEEK Whatever: JOY, Buses, Baptisms, and Chivalry!

Danish Word of the Week: Glæde (Glel) JOY-Inspired by Mom's email this week. :)

We had so much fun in our tri-panionship this week! Søster Reed and I were together with another Søster Reed-so there was no end to the comments about 'Woah, TWO Søster Reeds?!' But we had a really fun, really weird week. We worked in two areas at once which was absolutely INSANE, but somehow we made it work. :)

It was such a blessing to be able to teach Edith! She is getting baptized this Friday and she is so excited. I haven't told you very much about her-so I'm going to do that now. She is from the Phillipines, but she's been living in Denmark for about 20 years. Right now she's living with a member family where the wife is also Phillipino and the husband is Danish! Edith and the wife, Theresa, work together. When Edith first started living with them, the Theresa and Lars invited her to come to church with them and she said she would! She met Søster Ripplinger and Søster Murray, and a few days later they stopped by the house and Edith said she wanted to keep learning about the church. Theresa and Lars always made it very clear that Edith didn't have to come to church just because she was living with them, they wanted her to make her own decision-but Edith said she loved church and loved how she felt when she was there, so she wanted to keep meeting with the missionaries! It was only her second or third lesson when she visited our ward and Søster Reed and I taught her and invited her to be baptized and she said yes! She is the sweetest woman. It is so fun teaching her with Theresa because they both speak Tagolic-so in those lessons there is Danish, English, and Tagolic happening all at the same time! It is so powerful to see her example of faith. She is learning a lot of new things, but she has such faith that if she obeys the commandments and trusts God that she and her family will be blessed. After the Sisters taught her about the Word of Wisdom, she stopped drinking coffee and was AMAZED by how much energy she had! She works late night/early morning shifts so she thought that there was no way she could get through work without coffee, but the Lord really, truly blesses us when we have enough faith to follow His counsel to us. It's like He knows everything or something. :) Anyways, her baptism is this weekend and we are so excited!! Apparently we're doing a musical number too so we'll see how that goes. :)

I don't know why this is notable but I'm going to tell you anyways-An old man tipped his hat to us! IT WAS THE CUTEST! CHIVALRY IS ALIVE! We were walking home and this sweet old man stopped on the sidewalk, took off his hat and said, 'God aften damer' (Good evening ladies!) It totally made our lives.

We were on a lot of buses and trains this week as we traveled back and forth to our different areas, so we had the chance to talk to a lot of people! It was so fun. Contacting can be really hard, but it definitely keeps things interesting. You never know what kinds of conversations you're going to have or who you're going to meet. Since there were three of us, we usually didn't sit together on the train just so we didn't make people feel like we were cornering them. :) This is kind of a crazy contacting story: So this morning, we all got on the train-the two Sister Reeds sat together with a man from Pakistan and I sat across the aisle. Søster Reed asked the man she was sitting by if he had had a good weekend, and a Danish man in the train wagon leaned over and said really loudly to the man, 'Don't worry, you're not in any danger from them. They're not real Christians, they're distorted Christians.' She didn't say anything back. Then the Danish man got on his phone, called whoever he was on his way to meet and said very loudly, making sure we could hear, 'I'm almost there-I'm on the train. I'm aware of three Mormon Sisters who are trying to convert everybody, but I'm fine and I'll be there in ten minutes.' (The ironic thing is literally the only thing that we had said to the first man so far was 'Have you had a good weekend?' Pretty normal question, I think.) Søster Reed ignored the Danish man and just kept chatting with the man she was sitting by. It sounded like they were having a really nice conversation. Meanwhile, the Danish man just sat there and alternated between glaring at me and listening in to their conversation. We meet a lot of people who aren't interested, but I've never seen anyone be so rude or aggressive towards us. Then, I felt the Spirit prompt me to get up and go talk to the Danish man. I was like, ARE YOU SERIOUS? And the Spirit was like. Yup. So I was like FINE. And I got up and sat across from him. Immediately as I sat down across from him he went on this rant about how he accepts all other forms of Christianity but he cannot tolerate Mormons and our distorted views and how we push our beliefs on everybody. I asked him what he believes-he told me he believes in accepting everyone and not judging people if they believe something different than you. I told him that I believe that too. I told him that we go on our missions to serve people and to help them build their faith in God, and that we respect everyone no matter their beliefs. His rant kind of ran out of steam after I said that. I don't think it was what he was expecting. Our stop came right after that so I told him 'I hope you have a great day,' stood up, and offered to shake his hand. He said, 'I'm not going to shake your hand.' I'm not really sure why the Spirit told me to go talk to him, but I tried to make peace and maybe one of these days his heart will be softened a little bit. I love grumpy people.

We got to eat dinner with Alexander's family! It was so fun!!! It's so crazy being in HIS home speaking Danish with him and his family! WORLDS COLLIDING! We sat there talking about Dylan Etter and how he's going on his mission soon-and it was the most surreal thing! Also, Alexander kept forgetting to call me Søster Van Orden so he kept calling me Amanda, and that was extra weird. It's been so long since I've heard my first name! WHO AM I.
[Alexander is a young Danish man who stayed with our friends the Briscoes here in Fort Collins for 6weeks this past summer.  He attended Amanda’s Open House Farewell and now she’s there J]

I love you all. I hope everyone's getting excited for Thanksgiving! It's so true what Mom said-Joy is gratitude and obedience. I would like to add that it's also cookie dough and Millie. But really though, have a fantastic week! Christmas pageant looks so fun-I might have cried and laughed at the same time looking at the pictures of Emma and Andrew but it's fine. I can just see that whole scene happening! Also tell Emma her shirt is cute.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pictures from Weeks 12-13

Just a CASTLE in the middle of the city
Hans Christian Andersen grave site

Hilarious headstone that reads: That's that! 

Rainy p-day with trainee, Sister Reed

WEEK 13: 2 Areas, 3 new Sisters = Recipie for Miracles ... and getting lost.

(From November 10th)
Danish Word of the Week: Tro (Troe) FAITH

I'm in a tri-panionship for the next week! Søster Reed and I are combining our area with the other Søster Reed (who is also brand new) because her companion went home a week early-so this will be fun! Two areas, three very new Sister Missionaries! YES. Sounds like a recipe for miracles. And a lot of getting lost. BUT, the area that we're combining with is Alexander's ward! The Danish boy who lived with the Briscoes this summer-I'm serving in his ward for a week! His Family is having us over for dinner on Friday :) I'm so excited! It's also Edith's ward-the woman we invited to baptism a couple of weeks ago. Her baptism is coming up soon so we're going to get to help her get ready over this next week! I feel so blessed that we get to teach her again!

Our mission is focusing on the faith to find people to teach this month, and MAN have we seen some amazing miracles! As a mission, we set a goal for each companionship to find 2 new investigators this week, and to continue with that goal every week for the rest of the month. I have three awesome stories--that I will have to tell you next week because I am out of time and our Missionary Portal is down so I can't copy them off of my email to President. Dangit. 

But, we made our goal, we found 2 new investigators this week and a bunch of really positive potential investigators from our efforts! It just was a huge testimony to me that Heavenly Father always keeps his promises when we do our part. Søster Reed and I followed President's invitation to talk to as many people as we could, and we were blessed with miracles! When we show God that we are willing to work for something, he always follows through! We can have complete confidence in that.

Also, Dave, the American man we met on the train last week, invited us over to eat Thanksgiving dinner with him and his wife and another American couple they know. So, don't even worry, I will have turkey and stuffing in Denmark!

Mom-It sounds like your shows and the studio are going so well! I do remember that location. It looks perf. :) And that calling is perfect for you! I love that the church provides help like that. It really makes such a HUGE difference in people's lives. You're going to see some amazing miracles!

Paj-I am also looking forward to the plunge into winter temperatures. We will get through this. I know it. I'm glad you get to go home for Thanksgiving! When do you go home for good? Good for you for feeding the missionaries! We love food! :)

I love you all so so much! It is such a highlight in my week to get to hear from all of you and hear how you're doing. We have a good family :) I'm sorry this is a short one-I love you all and I hope you have a great week.

WEEK 12: Week of Miracles and "We're here to help YOU!"

(From November 3rd)
Danish word of the week: Mirakler (meer-AK-ler) Miracles.  Danish is crazy. Sometimes words are completely different than English, and then other times it's basically the English word with a little bit of an accent. 

This week we really have had a lot of miracles with contacting! As missionaries we're supposed to talk with everyone. We talk to people on trains, on the street, obviously in appointments-basically everywhere we go we try to have a conversation and at least give people a pass-along card. We talk to a ton of different people every day, and we get a ton of different reactions. Some people ignore us and pretend we didn't say anything, some people look suspiciously at our nametags and move seats on the train (my personal favorite), some people are totally willing to chat but aren't interested in talking about religion, and then there are the people who I swear are miracles-who are genuinely interested in why we're here in Denmark and in what we have to saySecret-we're here to help YOU! These people can be few and far between, but you never know who they are until you open your mouth! It can be really scary-especially for two relatively new missionaries-we're not even 100% sure that we'll understand what they say back to us! And it can also be hard not to jump to the conclusion that people will say no. That's where faith comes in! We have been focusing really hard on having faith that Heavenly Father will put people in our path who are prepared to talk to us. As we've been exercising our faith, we have met some of the most interesting people, had some really great conversations, and found a new potential investigator every day! It's really humbling to see that Heavenly Father can work through us if we just trust Him over our own abilities. 
One boy that we talked to on the train is a Dane, but his mom lives in Utah right behind the Draper Temple!  WHAT? He's been to the Conference center before, and he's going back for Christmas! We told him to go see the Lights on Temple Square and to find a Danish missionary to give him a Temple Tour in Danish. He was really excited about that. Sitting right next to him was a very drunk man with a spiffy bow-tie and fancy umbrella who kept saying 'why are you talking about church? Don't you know you're in Denmark?' and then laughing really hard. He was sweet.

We talked to another man yesterday named Dave. We were getting on the train on our way to visit a less-active member, and we walked past a man who made eye contact and smiled as we went past. Not a Danish thing to do! We were going to sit in the seat behind him, but the Spirit told me to go sit across from him. So we did, and as we sat down he took out his earphones and said 'Mormons!' REALLY not a Danish thing to do. Turns out he's American, he grew up in Utah and lived in Boulder Colorado for 12 years! He just moved here with his wife. He invited us over to drink decaf coffee ;) and share a message sometime! 

We had another miracle Sunday. Sundays are seriously becoming my favorite missionary days. It's the day of the week where everything comes together in one place and it's just fun! A less-active woman we've been meeting with came to church with us for the first time in a long time and had a great experience! Her visiting teachers and home teachers have faithfully visited her every month so she had some familiar faces in the ward which we were SO grateful for! EVERYONE DO YOUR HOME AND VISITING TEACHING! IT'S IMPORTANT! She has a great story. She got baptized back in the 80's and went less-active when she married a Muslim man. She says that she has never doubted that the church is true. She has had some spiritual experiences she can't deny. Now she's just working on finding the faith to make the changes in her life she needs to make in order to enjoy all of the blessings of her covenants again! She is so sweet and it was so fun to have her in church!

We also had an investigator come to church. Her name is Mia. She's been investigating the church for a long time-like since 2006! She comes from a Catholic background and she has felt split between these two churches for years. Missionaries haven't met with her in about a year and a half, but the Elders got back in touch with her and then referred her to us. She wants to meet with missionaries again and make a decision! President has a fireside every fast Sunday at his house and we invited her to that as well. It was all about Christ. We watched the Because of Him Easter video and talked about how Christ makes it possible for us to achieve our full potential. 

We helped with a Halloween party on Friday :) That was my first experience of really realizing what an awkward missionary I am! We helped a woman in our ward set up a Haunted House in her basement and we hid and scared everyone as they came through-it was really fun. There were a lot of people there! But then after the haunted house was over, all 6 of us missionaries went upstairs and we had to walk through the party to get out the door, and I have never felt so out of place in my life! It looked like a really fun party-but seriously all 6 of us just stood there not knowing what to do for like 3 minutes-sticking out like sore thumbs. Painful. That's what it was. haha :) so, great. I'm weird! It happened.

Our zone is playing flag football against the North Sjælland Zone tomorrow, so I'm going to be calling on my intermural flag football skills to win this one. This is what we do for zone training, in case you ever wondered what the heck zone training is. :) It's football. 

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!
Oh! Also, scripture that has been stuck in my head all week Alma 26:36-37
Edith-the woman we invited to baptism last Sunday has a baptismal date now!! She's getting baptized on November 22nd :) She's really excited! Her ward meets right after our ward so we got to see her again yesterday. What a gem!

WEEK 11: Det var det = that was that and Orden-means order: det er i orden = it's all in order; it's fine.

(From October 27th)
Danish phrase of the week: Det var det (day var day) that was that. I'm attaching a picture of the FUNNIEST headstone I have ever seen. Pia took Søster Reed, the Ældster, and I to see Hans Christian Andersen's grave this week and we all just laughed so hard at this random headstone we found! It has a weird little play-dough looking man on top of it and the only thing it says besides the dead guy's name is ...that was that! I love it. I think it's a great idea. It's impossible to be sad when you look at that headstone. 

This week was hard and a little slow, but we think it's because good things are coming! It was like a transition week. We are trying to make a lot of changes in our area in the way that we work with members and the people that we meet with. Frederiksberg is a great area, it's a big area, but it's been in a little bit of a rut for the past few months. We had a lot of really fantastic meetings with our ward mission leader, the bishop, and us 6 missionaries to figure out how we can really divide and conquer to strengthen our ward, help bring people back, and find more! It's exciting. 

Even though it was a slow week, we taught some AMAZING lessons! It seems like the theme of this week was the Book of Mormon. That was what every single one of our investigators needed to hear about. One of them, a woman from Brazil, has been meeting with the Sister missionaries since February and she just couldn't figure out why she hadn't gotten an answer yet about whether or not the church was true. We talked through her concerns, and I just felt prompted to ask her how her Book of Mormon reading was going. She admitted that she hadn't read very much because she always put it off and then never got around to it. It was amazing because in the middle of her sentence, she just kind of stopped, and it was like a switch flipped in her brain! She was like, I need to read that book! There's a reason why it's been sitting in my house for 7 months! I need to read it! I'm going to read it. So-she committed herself to reading the Book of Mormon! Something that I have learned so far on my mission is that if you want to have a testimony of something, you have to DO something about it! If you want to know if a commandment is true, you have to live it and look for the blessings. If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true, you have to read it and look for your answer! The exciting thing is, that it IS true. It really is God's word to us in our day-it's a miracle that we have that book! So we're really excited to follow up with her on that. :)

Søndag was our miracle day. There was a family visiting from another ward who brought an investigator with them to church. When investigators are in church, we teach a guest sunday school class instead of having them go to the regular sunday school. The family came with us and we taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She had already had the Restoration lesson from other missionaries, so we just built off of that. We read 3 Nephi 27:20-21 with her and talked about how Christ wants us to follow his example in all things. We had a really great conversation and then-crazy part- we ended up inviting her to be baptized! It was so funny because as soon as the words were out of my mouth the whole member family kind of gasped and held their breath. She was quiet for a few seconds and then she said yes! And then everyone just breathed this huge sigh of relief, and then Søster Reed and I didn't know what to do because let's face it: we never know what we're doing :) haha. But it was so exciting! She doesn't live in our area so other sisters will take it over from here, but I feel so blessed that we got to be a part of her learning process! 

Then, we had a really awesome, REALLY LONG-way too long- #badtrainermoment-lesson with a young Danish couple named Søren and Tilde. This is a miracle story. Missionaries contacted both of them back in JUNE and gave them a Book of Mormon. They said they would be open to hearing more, but nothing ever worked out. We've basically been playing phone tag with them for four months. But last week, we called people on our potential investigators sheet and Søren answered the phone! He said that he had some questions and that he would love to meet! So-fast forward to Sunday. We brough a YSA member named Heidi with us-she's a return missionary from the Temple Square mission and it was such a blessing to have her there! Both because of the happy coincidence that she is also fluent in Danish, and because she is a fantastic missionary. Søren and Tilde had so many sincere questions! We ended up switching into English during the lesson because some of the questions were a little complex - way more complex than our 8 week and 3 week Danish could handle, but we had a fantastic conversation with them. They are both really aware of the Spirit-they just don't have that word for it. We taught them that God is aware of us and can be involved in our every-day lives and that we can feel close to Him. We also talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation-'have you ever asked yerself where you come from, why yer here, and where yer goin'?' (name that movie). We also invited them to continue reading the Book of Mormon and told them that we were here to answer any questions they had. They want to meet with us again! It's a little tricky because they are literally going to have a baby in 10 days, but they were really sincerely open to having us back. The Spirit was super strong in that lesson and I feel like they gave us a lot to think about and we gave them a lot to think about. Good work. 

Finally, we met with a sweet young mom named Emma. I helped her move into her new apartment my first day in Denmark. My first service project as a jet-lagged and confused new missionary was carrying her bookshelves down crazy steep stairs. :) She has an amazing relationship with God already. She loves the Bible, understands repentance and the Atonement, and prays every day. She knows that God is there and that he loves her. She also said that she believes that God could call prophets again because the Bible prophecies that God will call a prophet in the last days. When we asked her if she believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet she thought about it for a little while and said, 'Yes, I do. I don't have any reason to doubt it.' Søster Reed asked her how she feels when she reads the Bible. She said that she reads it with the expectation that she's going to hear God's words to her. We promised her that if she reads the Book of Mormon with that same intent and expectation that she would find out for herself if it was also true. I just feel so lucky that it's my full time job right now to invite the Spirit into people's homes and teach them the gospel. It doesn't get much better than that.

So-det var det! There are a lot of ups and downs on a mission! We had some really great ups this week, and I need to be better about focusing on those! That's actually one of our companionship goals for this week. Every night after we plan for the next day, we're going to talk about the miracles that we saw that day. They happen all the time, we just have to be aware of them and not let discouragement overshadow the good things! 

I love you all, I'm so proud of the fabulous people you are! Also, our last name is a Danish word! Orden-means order. People say 'det er i orden.' Like-it's all in order; it's fine. So I'm trying to live up to my name and be more organized :) I'll let you know how that goes. Love you! Have a great week!!!