Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WEEK 66, October 26, 2015: Update on Christmas Concert; Choose Hope; New Companion, and New Clothes!

Danish Word of the Week: SKRUK (pronounced basically how it's spelled but you swallow the r. I don't really know how to explain that...) BABY HUNGRY- aka the mental and emotional state of the Esbjerg Sisters due to the missionary rules prohibiting the holding of all of the new babies that are being born in Esbjerg right now (there are so many!!) and due to the geographical distance between Sister Van Orden and her 3 month old niece, Ella!  Life is hard sometimes.

A comedic moment from the Book of Mormon:
Mosiah 12:1 And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: 'Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—'Abinadi.... Wait...DANG IT. Cover blown! Abort mission!'
Søster Ferguson and I laughed a lot about that this morning.

This week has been way good! Søster Ferguson is hilarious-I love her. We quote all of the same movies so we knew from day 1 that things were going to work out. 

Elder Gerber is training a new missionary in Esbjerg! We wanted them to have a good first day together, so we heart attacked their door.  #OperationBefriendtheGreenie.  Except after awhile, we ran out of nice things to say on the hearts so some of them say things like, 'bacon' and 'I hope you like biking.'  And one of them has a picture of a squirrel on it.  

Things are going good with the Christmas concert. We're scheduling things with the bishops so that we can come and do firesides, and we're starting to collect music and get the program together. It's going to be good! Basically I'm just praying a lot because sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming, but Heavenly Father will help us make it into what it needs to be.

Michael is still the best. We did end up changing his baptismal date to the 22nd of November. We were all just way too stressed about when that baby was due. But he's basically planning his own baptism. He already knows what songs we're going to sing and who's giving talks. It sounds like all we're going to have to do is show up and he'll just run the show. :)

Søster Ferguson and I got to sing with the Primary kids in the Primary Program yesterday! Oh my gosh it was the best sacrament meeting ever. I was sitting next to a little boy named Silas who kept punching his friend in the head, but somehow the spirit was still there. They were all so cute. I love hearing little kids talk about their testimonies. The gospel is not complicated. God speaks to the hearts of little children in ways that they can understand, and he answers their prayers just as much as he answers the prophet's prayers.  

This special thing is advertising a play called "Adam and Eve."  I wasn't aware they looked like that ...

It seems like a theme for this week has been how important it is to feel the love of God every day. We had a really great women's conference on Saturday with all of the Relief Society Sisters in Denmark. There are 2 stakes in Denmark, and both of the Stake Relief Society Presidents gave talks about hard things that they've been through in their lives. One of them went through a really ugly divorce and got her kids taken away from her for a year in the process, and the other's daughter died last year at the age of 30 leaving behind a husband and 2 young kids. Both of them talked about how at first, they were angry and hurt and completely closed their hearts in order to protect themselves from feeling more pain. One of them said that when she prayed, she couldn't even say 'Dear Heavenly Father'-she just addressed him as 'God' because she couldn't bring herself to believe that he loved her. But then they both talked about how they healed. They decided that they didn't want to be angry and bitter anymore, they wanted to have hope. Little by little they started feeling the love of their Father in Heaven again, a lot of times through small things and through the kindness of other people. We need to feel God's love for us in our lives. We need to feel it every day. It is the only way to make it through life without becoming hard and desensitized and worn down. So ask yourself: Do I feel the love of God? Do I feel it every day? What can I do to feel closer to Him? Answer those questions and act on the promptings-it will change your life!

I love you all so much! Thanks for the family history stories and group sheets-that'll be so helpful! Have a great week!

Love, Søster Van Orden

We found a suitcase in our closet FULL OF CLOTHES-and after calling around to the other Sisters who have served in Esbjerg, we discovered that all of these clothes were up for grabs. Tears were shed, wardrobes were swapped; it was better than Plato's Closet.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WEEK 65, October 19, 2015: Amanda May +7 go on Christmas Music Tour! Please send Family History Stories & the Gospel is Beautiful.

Danish Word of the Week: SLÆGTSFORSKNING (SLEKTS-forsk-ning) FAMILY HISTORY

Transfers! I'm still in Esbjerg, and my new companion is Sister Ferguson! She's been in the mission for about 9 months and she's WAY AWESOME. She is really good at having fun and working hard at the same time. And she takes tons of pictures which I'm honestly not very good at, so at least we know that our time in Esbjerg will be documented. :) I'm so excited to get to be her companion.

Exciting news-me and Elder Dickson, an Elder from my MTC group who is WAY good at the piano and organ, get to organize a group of 8 missionaries to do a Christmas Music Tour!! We are going to be on the road in the mission van for 2 1/2 weeks at the beginning of December and put on firesides all over the country! I AM SO EXCITED. This is craziness because we have all kinds of coordinating to do with all of the different wards, plus we have to write an entire Music and the Spoken Word in Danish...but it's going to be great!!!! We also need to figure out how we're going to feed 8 missionaries for 2 1/2 weeks without sending the Danish Mission into bankruptcy. 'Take no thought for your life...what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink...' We're going to be putting that to the test. :) I CAN SERIOUSLY NOT WAIT THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING.

Other thing - Are there any family history stories? We're going to be having a training on November 1st about how we're going to use family history more as missionaries, and they want us all to have some stories. I have the one from Grandpa Van Orden about our first LDS ancestors Peter Van Orden and William & Julia Ann Van Orden-which is way good. I would love some from our Danish ancestors if anybody knows any good stories. :)

We had a great week-George's mom, Zina got baptized this weekend!! I didn't get to go to the baptism because we couldn't travel up to Horsens again, but STILL. She's a member of the church, and the Horsens Sisters say that she is just so happy and is just loving learning about the gospel. I'm just so happy that her and George can be together on this!! George's dad died a while ago, and now they can do temple work for him and be sealed...the gospel is beautiful. I'm so happy for them.

Michael is still doing way well. It seems like he already has a testimony about everything we teach him. Genesis (his friend who is a member) is just PRAYING that her baby comes on time so that she won't be in the hospital during his baptism. Fingers crossed. I mean we can always move the baptism but would just be really nice if her baby came on time. :)

Hey-I love you all. I am so grateful that we have the gospel in our family. It's a huge blessing and I hope we never take it for granted. Have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 12, 2015

WEEK 64, October 11, 2015: America according to the average Dane & Why don't people put on pants before answering the door?!

Me & a really big door

Danish Word of the Week: Personlighed (per-SONE-lee-hill) PERSONALITY

Funny things Danes have said about America:
1. The average American doesn't know how to cook. The only Americans who know how to make food are the people who own all of the fast food restaurants we eat at.
2. There are 3 states. New York, California, and Texas. There is also strange island called Utah inhabited by Mormons, but only a few people have heard of it.
3. We all have guns and shoot things on a daily basis. Ees for fun.
4. We're all good at ice skating. Not sure where that one came from.
5. One Direction is the essence of American music.
6. American salads are more fattening than Danish pastries.
We were walking home at like 8.50 pm. A car drove past and pulled over in front of us. A man got out of the passenger side and handed us two daisies, and then got back in the car and drove away without saying anything. Thank you kind strange... ignore how awful my hair looks; it was rainy.

We had a really fun ward party on Saturday to get ready for Ward Conference. Bishop asked each of the groups-Relief Society, Primary, Young Women's, and the Missionaries to provide 10 minutes of entertainment. We and the Elders wrote a skit about the MTC and all of our struggles there, and it ended up being way funny. A man in the ward came up to me afterwards and told me how great it was to see the missionaries having fun. Then he went off on this thing about how having fun is a big part of being Christian. We're supposed to lift each other up and love one another-so that can also translate into getting together and doing fun things and making good memories. 'Men are that they might have joy.' 

The Bishop gave a really good talk the next day in sacrament meeting and used that ward party as an analogy. All of the members contributed something: decorations, food, entertainment, talents, time-not because they had to, but because they wanted to make the party a good experience for everyone else, and they had something they knew they could contribute. As a result, it was a huge success and everyone came away feeling uplifted-not thinking about all that they had sacrificed to get there. That's how our membership in Christ's church should feel! Latter Day Saints are really good at analogies, I've noticed. 

I need to go off on a little rant for a second.  WHY DO PEOPLE ANSWER THE DOOR IN THEIR UNDERWEAR?! What is their thought process? They're sitting there in their apartment, minding their own business, and then a knock comes at the door. WHY is their first thought not, 'Oh, someone's here, I'd better go put some pants on.' NO. They just hop right up and open the door NAKED. Do they really just not think about it, or do they do it on purpose? I'm starting to feel like it's on purpose. This has become a daily occurrence, and I am just mystified. These are grown up adult fully functioning people. Do they show up to work with no pants on? I don't understand.

Anyways. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Thanks for being so great. We find out about transfers this week-I feel like I'm probably staying but you never know. :)
Love you!
The Esbjerg/Sønderborg District

cute lil Danmark

One of the amazing cathedrals you can find all over the country. This one is in a town called Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark.

WEEK 63, October 5, 2015: Meet some of Amanda's Danish friends, Rock Ban Name from Conference, Living Prophets, and TWO MORE TRANSFERS?!

Danish Word of the Week: Mennesker (MEN-esk-eh) PEOPLE
Winning Conference Rock Band Name: Sin Sick World
 [Note from Jill, Amanda's mom:  Years ago, Alec (Amanda's dad) started a contest to help keep the kids interested and listening to conference: Listen for catch phrases that could double as names for rock bands.  Amulon & the Wicked Priests, Nattering Na-bombs, etc.  Over the years, many have been recorded in our family journal.  Sin Sick World is Amanda's entry from October's Gen Conf.]

I just want to tell you about some of my friends this week.
George's Baptism

GEORGE: His baptism was so sweet! He has gained such a big place in the hearts of the members in Horsens. Him and his mother both. I'm so grateful that I got to be there. George is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Not just academically; he has a lot of wisdom. He's been through a lot, and I have never met anyone so young who knows the Savior so personally. George taught me that faith and gratitude for the Savior really can carry us peacefully through any trial.

Basically the entire Ward at George's baptism
SARA (still changing her name): I talked about her a little while ago, she is the 17 year old in Horsens who is going to get baptized as soon as she turns 18 in a couple of months. She was also at George's baptism, and she sat by me and told me everything that had happened in her life since I left. She is completely changed! She LOVES the gospel; I almost started crying as she sat there and told me how much she has come to just love and understand repentance and the Savior and the commandments. She told me, 'I don't have a strong family, but because of the gospel I can create one for myself. I want to have an eternal family!' That's what it's all about!  Potential!  We can be happy right now if we decide to be! I will never stop being grateful for that rainy day when Sister Perkins and I decided to turn our bikes around and try knocking her neighborhood one more time-and finally found her and her mom. There really are people ready for the gospel.

MICHAEL: We had an amazing lesson with him about repentance. It turns out that of all of the things we teach in the church, this is what he relates to the most! He has already changed a bunch in his life, and now he's adding a gospel perspective to it. He came to conference on Sunday and told us that since our lesson, he had been praying for help and for strength with the things he's trying to change in his life, and he said that it's been helping him a lot. He's so wonderful!

Ahhh my travel itinerary just popped up in my inbox! WEIRD!!! This is not happening. HOW DO I ONLY HAVE TWO TRANSFERS LEFT. It's fine. I'm fine. Oh geez.

Anyways, last person...

SOFIE: We watched Conference with her. She's a member in our ward and possibly one of my favorite people ever. This woman is a wonder. She lost her leg from the knee down when she was younger, but she has not let that stop her from anything in life. She is a trained opera singer, voice teacher, directs the best choir in Esbjerg, THE MOST INCREDIBLE COOK and she teaches the missionaries her tricks so...hopefully some of that will rub off on me, and she can knit anything you ask her to. And she's brilliant. Talking to her about the church is mind blowing sometimes. It was way fun watching conference with her. She had a running commentary the entire time, especially when the MoTAB sang. We helped her make this cheese soup that is literally the best soup I've ever had in my life. In her words, 'It tastes like angels sing.'

I love General Conference. We still haven't watched the last session-we're going to get all caught up on that today. As I was listening, I just kept thinking of how grateful I am that we have a living prophet and apostles on the earth today. This has become one of my favorite scriptures about prophets:

Ephesians 4:11-15
11 And he (Christ) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

I love you all so much! Thanks for the great examples and great strength you are to me! Have a wonderful week!! Kiss Ella for me!