Thursday, July 30, 2015

WEEK 53: July 27, 2015: Lost everything but sense of humor & testimony.

Danish Phrase of the Week: Det er væk! (Day air vayk) It is GONE.

This scripture has been my life this last week. 'The inhabitants thereof (aka Sister Van Orden) began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.' Mormon 1:18

Do you even want to know about all of the things I have lost this week? My travel pass that gets me onto all of the buses and trains, my wallet (...again.), and my bike was stolen two days ago. Everything is fine-we figured out another way for me to travel, I can replace most of the things in my wallet-I don't think I'm going to get it back this time-and we have an extra area bike. Plus, the Elders have connections and will get me a better bike on Wednesday. But it has been insane! Literally every other day something new has gone missing! I'm still trying to figure out what it is I'm supposed to learn from this one. :) When you're on a mission, you HAVE to have a sense of humor. You have no other choice.

Transfers happened! I'm back together with Sister Mattie Reed! Not my baby, but the Sister Reed I was with right after I trained Sister Vashti Reed. Woop! She's coming to be a Sister Training Leader with me! It's extra fun because this area is the area that she got trained in. So-she's coming back to her very first ward, very first apartment; she knows the area better than I do!

We got to go to the temple on Friday. It has been forever since I've been through the temple! It felt so good to go there and re-charge and feel that spiritual boost.

We had some great experiences with music this week. Sister Ripa and I made an arrangement of I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus and Love One Another-and since it was Sister Ripa's last week in the area, we sang it for basically everyone we met with. I love the way the spirit can testify to people through music.

Sorry I don't have a ton of time (again)  Transfer day is always crazy! Love you all so much!!

WEEK 52: July 20, 2015: Don't tell me the odds! Family from Sweden translates for Spanish speaking investigator in a Danish Branch ... WHAT?

SPANISH Phrase of the Week- Cantamos Mañana = We Sing Tomorrow.

Don't worry, I didn't forget what language I'm supposed to be learning. We visit an inactive member from Brazil named Marcia, and she has a friend staying at her house named Mario. He only speaks Spanish and Romanian. Sister Ripa and I sang a song for them, and they both loved it! J Mario wanted to look at the church website in Spanish so he could read more about where we were from. We invited them both to come to church and told them that we'd be singing again in sacrament meeting. Somewhere in the confusion of all of the Danish, English, Portuguese, and Spanish that was flying around, Mario got confused and thought that we meant we would sing again tonight, and all of a sudden I remembered two Spanish words, 'Cantamos Mañana.' When I said that he looked at me so excited and said, 'Hablas español??' And I was like-'No. No hablo español.' :) But he was so happy that I knew those few words in Spanish and he smiled and said, 'Hasta mañana.' Marcia said that she would think about coming to church so that she could translate for him, but she didn't seem quite as excited about it.

So yesterday in church as we were standing at the door saying hi to people, Mario came in! But Marcia wasn't with him. We were of course excited to see him, but we were like-he speaks NO Danish or English. ...Shoot. We had texted our ward mission leader the night before, and nobody in the ward served a Spanish speaking mission. So we basically had no idea how he was going to understand the meeting. We sat down on a pew with him, and I was trying to think if I could maybe track down a Spanish book of Mormon or the church website on somebody's smart phone, when Sister Ripa whispered to me, 'Sister, is the family behind us speaking Spanish?' They totally were! We hurried and introduced them to Mario-they were a family visiting our ward from Sweden. The wife was from Peru, and the husband was originally from Denmark, but also spoke fluent Spanish. He was able to translate sacrament meeting for Mario, and he had a great time!

We were floored. It was such a huge miracle! I don't even want to hear about what the odds are that this family from Sweden with a husband fluent in both Danish and Spanish would end up in Copenhagen Denmark sitting directly behind two sister missionaries with a Spanish speaking investigator they had basically no way of communicating with. God is aware of all of us! And I really need to brush up on my Spanish!

We were also able to find four more new people to teach this week. Heavenly Father is really blessing us.

I love you all so much! EMMA YOU BETTER HAVE YOUR BABY THIS WEEK! Take good care of each other and reach out to people who need your help. Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WEEK 49 Pictures of Sankt Hans Dag! A HUGE Danish Holiday


This week was a holiday called Sankt Hans Dag. It comes from back in the day when witch burning was socially acceptable. Once a year, the Danes build the biggest bonfire they can and burn a scarecrow type thing that looks like a witch. It also celebrates the summer solstice, but nobody really pays attention to that. :) Once the fire is a little smaller, they wrap bread dough around big long sticks and cook it-and then you eat the rolls with jam or whatever else you want. It was way fun! We had a huge ward party-everyone said that our bonfire was one of the biggest they've ever seen. This ward is so fun-there are so many kids and they all love hanging out with the missionaries! It makes us feel way loved.
Sankt Hans Dag!  Our Witch

Biggest, Hottest Bonfire I have EVER seen! It singed the leaves on the trees and burned the lawn!  

Even standing this far away we can feel the heat!

We went to a Fourth of July party / birthday party, and a HUGE water fight broke out.  Main targets - the Missionaries.            These are the results.

WEEK 51; July 13, 2015: The new Mission President doesn't share my sense of humor .... Miracles happen in the Lord's time, ONE YEAR COMING UP!

Danish Word of the Week: Tilfældigheder (till-fail-dee-hill-uh) Coincidences. There aren't any.

I think I forgot to tell you this story, but do you want to know what the new mission president's first impression of me was? Ok. So we show up to their house, ready to go on splits with his wife, and he shakes my hand and says, 'Van Orden. Do you have any friends in California?' and me thinking that I'm so funny just said, 'I don't have any friends.' Expecting him to at least crack a smile, right??? ... He didn't. It was embarrassing. And then we had a really awkward conversation about how I don't know the people that he knows. Woo! Gettin off on the right foot! :)

Ok-Sister Perkins just emailed me, and there are some miracles happening back in Horsens!  Do you remember when I told you about the day where we spent forever knocking in the rain trying to find this one house, because a previous missionary referred a family to us but could only remember the street but not the house number, and we finally found the house and the mom was miraculously home?? It's this family. The mom grew up going to church but never got baptized, and her oldest daughter knew a little bit about it too. Sister Perkins and I met with the mom and her oldest daughter three-ish times after that. They are the kindest most amazing people-they loaned me a bike one time. We love them so so much! This is the email Sister Perkins sent me!

'Sara (I'm changing her name, but this is the daughter) is doing amazing! When we got back from leadership we saw her for the first time after like a week and she has been reading and studying from the Book of Mormon every day and knows that it is true, she has been praying and getting answers and she wants to get baptized! We haven't set a date yet because she isn't sure if her dad will give her permission, but she said that even if he doesn't give permission, that she will just wait until she turns 18 in November and get baptized then!!!!! She came to church yesterday and the young women and young women leaders just loved her and talked to her and it was awesome!! We are going to a genbrug (that's a thrift shop) today with her to help her find some dresses that she can wear to church because she doesn't have any!!! AAHHH!! She is so awesome!!

Miracles happen! Sometimes missionary work can be stressful because we want things to happen fast. We hear stories all the time about people who hear about the church and then get baptized 3 weeks later. I have seen that happen to people on my mission, those stories are real. But honestly, many many more stories take longer. They take multiple sets of missionaries, sometimes with pauses in between. They can even take years of the right people being in the right places at the right times. It's hard to be patient, but we never know what link we are in the chain! We've just got to be a strong link, no matter where we are placed. God's plan for his children WILL happen at the pace that He needs it to. God must be so organized. It amazes me. Anyways! Exciting things. 

I love you all so much! Thanks for the faith and prayers. I'm so grateful for my mission. This week is my year mark! I can't even believe it! This time has flown. Have fun getting ready for Emma's baby and know that I love you and pray for you every day!

WEEK 50; July 6, 2015: Apartment Inspection, FHE sets the tone in the home, Gratitude! and a quote from Grandma Dixon

Danish Word of the Week: Fugtighed (fook-tee-hill) HUMIDITY

We got some real summer weather this week, and none of us were prepared. It got so hot and humid out of nowhere-we've been sleeping with all of the windows open and no blankets all week. That was a big change from the 2 layers of pajamas and thick socks I've gotten used to. :)

Splits with Sister O'Bryant were so fun (new Mission President’s wife)! She is so excited to be on a mission and wants to come out teaching with us all the time. She even said she would come out knocking with us! She's really caught the fire for learning Danish as well. President O'Bryant is also great. This last week has been insane for them but they are just taking it all in stride happy to be here. We're so excited to work with them. President is going to come around to all of the missionary apartments in the mission next week to do personal interviews. This is going to be the cleanest the apartments will ever be. :)

On splits with Sister O'Bryant we taught a new convert family how to hold a family home evening! It was such a great appointment and there was a warm, fun spirit in the room. It built my testimony of how sacred the home can be. We have to work to create that environment, but when we make the effort, the spirit just rushes in and fills it up. It's a real, tangible feeling! It's amazing! 

I love this new ward I'm in! You probably got the pictures of me and Søster Ripa with the bishop's daughters-they just jumped up and started doing our hair during dinner. It was so sweet. But more than that, the members of this ward have such strong testimonies! Two scary things happened in the ward this week-one father found out that he has a tumor in his brain, and another father had a pretty serious stroke. This last Sunday was testimony meeting, and members of both families stood up and expressed how grateful they are that we have the spirit to comfort us, that we can pray to God, that God gives us our families and the ability to love others, and that the gospel gives us perspective when tragedy strikes. I thought it was so amazing that the main topic of this fast Sunday-especially in light of recent events-was gratitude. These people are such incredible examples!  

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the prayers - I've really felt them this week. I hope you all can also feel how much I love you and pray for you! I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and that we can talk to him. It's like an anchor that fastens us to heaven. There was a Danish lady we talked to in the MTC who said that her little brother couldn't understand why prayer was so important. He said he didn't need it-that he could work out his own problems. And then she said, For me, I feel that my life absolutely depends on prayer. If we're going through a problem, why would we ever want to miss out on advice from someone who knows absolutely everything?

I love you all so much and I pray for you every day! Remember that no matter what happens, Heavenly Father's plan of happiness for us will be realized. As Grandma Dixon says, mind your manners and say your prayers and good things will happen. :) Have a great week!