Tuesday, December 22, 2015

WEEK 73; December 21, 2015: So many feelings! Finishing Christmas Firesides, Filming Musical Numbers, and P-day at the Beach in our PJs!

Danish Word of the Week: Skype! oh. wait. They stole that from English. I love it when they do that.

I'm so happy!  We had our last concert last night, and it went amazingly well! This whole week has been incredible. Word got around that the firesides were really good, so we had full houses every night with lots of members and guests!
This is after our concert in Fredericia

It has been so special to see this whole thing come together. Everyone is so incredibly talented. It was amazing to see how not just our musical talents, but our personalities worked together and were used. Every single member of this district was there for a specific reason. The spirit we have felt every day has been unlike anything I've felt my entire mission. We were all so happy, fulfilled, relaxed, and so enjoyed being missionaries in this way. It was exactly what we all needed. More than that, I know that it is exactly what the members needed! This was such a great missionary tool for them! I can't even express how grateful I am to have had this opportunity

A major miracle that happened - Our ward mission leader in Esbjerg runs a tv station
 We called him and asked if it would be
Recording in the film studio
possible for us to come and record some of our songs in his studio so that we could have some high-quality videos to put out on YouTube. He said yes, and we got to record not just some, but ALL of our songs. He had 4 cameras running so he can edit the footage and work in some fancy shots from all different angles. His brother is a sound guy who came and made sure we sounded good, and they did all of this for free. I was blown away that he would do that for us on such short notice in the middle of the Christmas season. He's getting some way good Sister Missionary Christmas Cookies this year. No seriously, we're going to get him something nice.

I am so excited for Christmas! I'm excited to be back in my area. I'm so excited to not live out of a suitcase and to actually wash my clothes in a washer that WORKS (long story), and for my last 3 weeks as a missionary. I could not have picked a better way or a better time to end my mission. God loves me! 

We had a Christmas Zone Conference and we watched Inside Out!  That movie.  So many feelings!  I was like - This was me in California!!  Everyone cried. Elders cried.  President cried and he's seen it 3 times now! 

For Skype, we will be calling at 4 pm Denmark time, so 8 am Idaho/Utah/Colorado time. I hope that works for all of you! Sorry it's a little early on Christmas morning, but like, am I not the best present ever?  

I love you all so much! Drive safe to Idaho and hug everyone for me!

P.S.  I'm really proud of this outfit. We all realized that we didn't pack any P-Day clothes, so we ended up going to the beach in our PJ's.    

For P-Day we went to the northernmost tip of Denmark. It's a city called Skagen. The cool thing about this place is that this is the point where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet. You can see the waves from the two seas crashing into each other off the coast. 
We had so much fun playing on the beach!

 The Seesters! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

WEEK 72!, December 14, 2015: I forgot how happy singing makes me!

Danish Word of the Week: Budbringerne (BOOL-bring-eh-neh) 
The Messengers. This is the name of our traveling music group. 

Week 2 of the Christmas tour has been so great. Every night I just sit back and think-this is amazing. We are 20 years old. There is so much talent in this group. Here's a list of all of the songs we do.

1. Bagpipe Medley of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Dejlig er den Himmel Blå
2. The Little Drummer Boy w/ a violin part (arranged by an Elder in the group) 
3. A Christmas Medley on the piano (John Schmidt's arrangement)
4. Let it Snow (me and Sister Lyman sing with Elder Geslison on the guitar. We made up this arrangement)
5. Et Barn Er Født i Bethlehem (A Child is born in Bethlehem)- We do this as a combined song with us and the audience. Every Dane knows and loves this song.
6. I'll be home for Christmas (whole group)
7. O Holy Night (solo)
8. Luk Julefreden Ind (Let Christmas Peace In) (sister song. I LOVE this one)
9. Hallelujah Chorus (piano and organ duet!! This one is SO IMPRESSIVE!)
10. Jingle Bells (we put some beatboxing in this one. It wakes up all the kids. :)
11. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (With choreography! Broadway anyone?)
12. Joy to the World (piano solo-another John Schmidt arrangement)
13. O Come O Come Emmanuel (this one is my fave. It's the Piano Guys' arrangement except instead of a piano and a cello, it's a piano and a classical guitar. I could literally listen to it all day.)
14. Silent Night

I love it so much! Members are loving it!
We are hoping that this year we will get all of the kinks worked out so that next year can be even more successful. We've been getting decent attendance this year-it gets bigger every performance because members hear about it from their friends and see our videos on Facebook, but I know that if the mission does this again next year that the churches will be packed from day one of the tour.

The ward mission leader in Esbjerg has a film studio. He's going to help us make higher quality videos of a couple of our songs! So excited for another week of firesides! 

I'm excited to talk with all of you next week! I can't even believe that's coming up so soon! I still don't know what our plans are for Christmas Day-I'll keep you posted. :)

Love you all so much! 

[Part of Letter To Mom from Amanda] 
            I'm scheduled to return to BYU Summer 2016. I sent my ecclesiastical endorsement to President O'Bryant today. Good to know that Shawna is still rocking the MDT office. Love that lady.
            The dumb computers we're emailing at don't have USB ports, so we can't upload any of the pictures from this week. But it's been a great one! I'm grateful to be a part of this. This is exactly what I needed. I still feel like a missionary, but I feel more like myself too. I forgot how happy singing makes me.
            I love you lots! Hope the one-acts and melodrama go well! And HUG DIANA FOR ME IF YOU SEE HER! I AM SO EXCITED FOR HER!

[FROM a Bishop in a Ward Amanda served and they held a fireside] 
Hello parents of missionaries in Denmark,
            We have had the great pleasure to see your young missionaries hold a Christmas concert here in Horsens.  They are some amazing young people, several of which have served their mission here in our ward. You can be proud of your young people. They are amazing with their music, song and spirit.  They have brought a wonderful Christmas spirit into our hearts.  Thank you so much.   You can see their performance in Horsens congregation facebook page : LDS Horsens menighed

Yours sincerely,
Bishop Ryan Kristensen
Horsens Ward
[FROM Amanda's Mission President to me] 
Sister Van Orden,
We have been recording the musical numbers as we have had the opportunity. We don't have the whole fireside, but we have the musical numbers.  They are being posted on Sister O'Bryant's facebook page.
By the way, your daughter is such a wonderful missionary.  And she sings like an angel.  We love her!
President O'Bryant

Monday, December 7, 2015

WEEK 71, December 7, 2015: On the road! Miracles and Angels Abound!

Danish Word of the Week: Engle (eng-lah) Angels

Oh my gosh this WEEK! Ok. So doing performances is always a crazy life, right?? I forgot how crazy and wonderful and stressful and rewarding it is! I haven't felt like this in a really long time. The first two performances went so well!

Ok but let me start from the beginning. Our two days of rehearsal all together turned into only one day of rehearsal, because the first day when we were all traveling into Copenhagen in the morning, one of the car keys accidentally got sent off on a train with another missionary to Odense-so a huge rescue mission had to be coordinated across all of Denmark to get this car key back to Copenhagen. We basically spent all of the first day doing that. When we were finally together that night, we put three of our songs together and then it was time to go to bed.

We worked double time the next day to get everything rehearsed. We got about 9 songs decently performance ready, and had a really fun concert the next morning at a ward Christmas party. That is where the film clips that Cecilia Poulsen sent came from. I'm so grateful she did that! She has a son on a mission. She gets it. :) We went to church yesterday, practiced some more, and then performed 4 songs at the Copenhagen Stake Christmas concert which was a beautiful experience.

We have already seen so many miracles. First of all, I am so grateful that God guided the process of making our performance schedule. We are still not quite ready to put on our full blown fireside, so it was a huge blessing that our first performance was 'just' a few songs at a ward Christmas party. It gave us opportunity to see how people like what we have so far, see what we need to add or take away, and give us a good springboard to creating the entire fireside (which we perform for the first time tomorrow night). It was perfect timing. It was exactly what we needed.

Also, God is totally blessing us to learn this music way fast. Like. WAY fast. Elder Baadsgaard said too that since we've put so much work into this, angels will come sing with us to make up for what we can't do. He's a really talented pianist, and he told about this one time when he had practiced so hard for a performance and prayed so much about it-when it came time for him to perform, there were a couple of times when he knows that he pressed the wrong keys, but the right notes came out of the piano.

Other miracle-we have a sound guy! Elder Porter (from my MTC group) got added to the tour when it became very apparent that all of the sound equipment the mission rented for us is completely useless without someone who knows how to work it. Duh. I don't know why this didn't occur to us sooner. We were worried about not having enough room in the van for Elder Porter, because let's face it, we ALREADY don't have enough room in the van, but President gave us another car. TWO MIRACLES IN ONE!

I got sick the first two days because of stress. My immune system was just like, you know what? No. And then I got this really irritating sore throat and my entire face hurt. I got a blessing, and, other miracle-every time we stand up to sing, the pain goes away. I'm finally feeling a little better this morning.

Everyone is LOVING the music! These are just a few of the comments that we've gotten so far.

'Jeg følte Ånden da jeres personligheder kom frem.' 
(I felt the Spirit when you showed your personalities!)

'Jeg følte at vi er virkelig i Jesu Kristi kirke. Jeg har aldrig følt det så stærkt som i dag.' 
(I felt that we really are in Jesus Christ's church. I have never felt that so strongly as I did today.)

'I dag har I været engle for os.' (Today, you have been angels for us.)

'I er jo ikke professionelle, men der er en særlig ånd som kommer når I stå og synge. Det gør at folk gerne vil lytte.' (Even though you're not professionals, there is a special spirit that comes when you stand and sing. It makes people want to listen to you.)

'Jeg vil gerne købe jeres CD!' (I'll buy your CD!)

Highlights: The 6 nights we're in Copenhagen, all of the Sisters are sleeping in the legendary 'Ballerup House.' It is a sketchy run down house in the middle of nowhere that is usually home to 4 Elders. But-because of...reasons...probably the fact that it's a gross old house that has been lived in by boys for 20 years-it's getting shut down as a missionary apartment. Elders who have lived there LOVE 'The House.' There are so many stories from this place. I think we are the first sisters in history to ever live here. We feel grossed out and honored to be a part of this piece of mission history.

We also got lost in a forest as we were driving home one night. We didn't realize for like 15 minutes that we were driving on a bus lane...turns out our map doesn't cover the area where the Ballerup House is. We had to turn around and find a 7-eleven because they all have computers where you can get directions to places. We got home around 10:45 at night. Missionary curfew is 9. It's fine. It's totally fine. We're buying a GPS for the car today.

One of our Elders plays the bagpipes, and we start the concert with him walking in from the back door up to the stand playing Danish Christmas songs. People freak out. They love it. It's so great!!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We have choreography! Kids are like...MISSIONARIES DANCING??? We're convinced that this is going to inspire more children to go on missions. We're allowed to have fun out here! :)

After the stake fireside last night, we stopped by a member family. The mom had been too sick to come to the concert, and her daughter asked if we would all come by and sing some songs for her so she wouldn't feel like she missed out. We sang Silent Night and a song called Luk Julefreden Ind. (Let Christmas Peace In). I felt the Spirit so strong as we sang for her, and I really did feel like there was a choir of angels singing with us. They were so grateful, and I will never forget that.

It has been a good first few days, and I'm excited to keep going! This whole thing is trial and error, so we are constantly problem solving and improvising-we are NEVER bored! I'm so grateful for this opportunity to use my talents to uplift people. I feel so privileged to be a part of this.

I love you all so much! I'm looking forward to SKYPING with you all soon! Crazy how fast that came again, right? Have a wonderful week! I pray for you all every day and think about you often. Thanks for everything.