Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Day More!

G'day g'day!

How on earth is this my last letter to you all? It feels like just yesterday that I was sending a quick email from the mission home telling my parents that I had arrived in Australia safely. Then they put me in a car and told me to drive two hours home on the left side of the road. Now...I'm not so sure if I remember how to drive on the right side. How things change.

It has been an absolutely marvellous last week in the city! We have been so busy with so many things--from the missionary norm of finding and teaching (the best work ever! It's been so good to pound the pavements of Melbourne again and invite everyone to church with us!), to going to Dandenong for Shanti's baptism (she and the girls look so, so happy. I'm so proud of them), to being called in last minute to help out with a seminar for a visiting group of students from a baptist college. That was a really cool experience! All these students were doing a year's intensive study of the gospel of Jesus Christ, kind of like missionaries do but without the proselyting. They came to tour the chapel next to the temple, and we were able to show them our family history center and teach them a bit of our basic beliefs. They all had really good questions, and it was so thrilling to be able to answer them and have a theological discussion with all these very interested people! I loved being able to explain to them about the Book of Mormon and about the importance of families in this life and in the next. It sort of hit me then just how much I love the gospel and how passionate I have become about it. I always want to keep learning and keep sharing it with others!

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on Sunday about fear and faith, and it was such a good learning experience for me. All day everyone was rubbing it in that I'm going home! Haha everyone has been mocking me for the last two weeks so it's fine. But! Surprise of surprises, who should walk in right before I gave my talk but Sister Vermeulen with Rudy, Jorge, and David!!! It was so good to see all of them again and so nice of them to come for my last Sunday! These kinds of things are always a bit happy/sad.

I think I say this in every single email, but it has been the greatest blessing of my life to serve a mission. It has been the greatest privilege to serve the Lord and His children here in Melbourne. He has blessed me so much to be able to know Him and His gospel better. He has changed me and made me a much better person than I was before. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He has the power to change our hearts! I know His gospel has been restored to the earth! And I know the Book of Mormon has the power to bring us closer to our Father in Heaven!

I love you all! Thank you all for your love and support and prayers these last eighteen months! See you in the northern hemisphere!

xo Sister Larsen

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zion City

G'day g'day!
Greetings from Melbourne, the most magnificent city in the world!! :D
I have spent the last week just glorying in this wonderful place. America is my country, but Melbourne is my hometown. <3
I'm serving with the lovely Sister Plante, from France, and our shiny new golden, Sister Nepia from New Zealand! This makes my fourth trio on the mission! I didn't really know that was a thing before but hey. I didn't know a lot of things eighteen months ago.
We've spent the last week doing a lot of beginning of transfer stuff, like transfer meeting and golden orientation. Transfer meeting was simultaneously really wonderful and really hard... All the departing missionaries get to go to the temple just before their final transfer meeting, which was so good but also so strange. I'd been to one of the departing temple sessions before and seen how wise and shiny and complete all the departing missionaries seemed, and then I blinked and suddenly it was me and I don't quite feel like I'm any of those things! I'm just grateful that I'm not the same as when I left. Giving my departing testimony was also strange. I found that there was so much I wanted to say and testify of and express gratitude for but I didn't quite have all the words. I managed to hold in my tears during the meeting (mostly)...until we sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" when I for sure did the Les Mis cry. It was ugly. It's all just so strange that it's ending.
But being able to serve in the city again has been the greatest blessing! have so missed the pace of the work here and all the amazing people from every corner of the world! It's been great to meet new investigators and new converts as well as some familiar faces from the last time I was here. Learning a new area has given me a lot of momentum for this final stretch, for which I am really grateful. I think Heavenly Father really knows what I need. It has been so good to work here. I just love to teach the gospel and to do missionary work. I am going to miss it so much.
And it's so good to be back in the branch and to remember how many miracles happen here every day! This really is such a special place because it is so fully devoted to bringing people to the fold of God, especially people who would never have heard about Jesus Christ unless they came to this country. We've had all sorts of miracles, from new investigators who read and understand most of the Book of Mormon in three days, to old investigators who slipped away because of trials come back unannounced and want to be welcomed home! The city is truly a place of miracles.

I love you all!! Catch ua later!

xo Sister Larsen

Monday, July 27, 2015


G'day g'day!

Transfers are coming up, and as crazy as it is I'm giving my departing testimony at transfer meeting tomorrow! It doesn't quite feel real. I'm leaving Dandenong to be in a trio for my last two weeks, and I've been blessed enough to go back to my beloved city for my remaining time!

We have been so blessed to see the greatest miracles here in Dandenong!! I hope you all remember Samantha and Jancy, our wonderful Malaysian recent converts? They were baptized at the end of February, and they were so solid and so happy for about a month afterwards. Then they started to drift off until they weren't coming to church at all and didn't want visitors and we didn't really understand why. Fast forward a few months... Shanti, their mom, texted us, reaching out and asking for help with some trials they had been going through. Turns out they had some conditions and some people in their lives that were preventing them from coming to church and being a part of the gospel like they wanted to. They were going through some pretty dark times. But now those people are out of the picture and they are free! They are so much happier now and they are back like the way they were before all their trials happened! They've welcomed us back into their lives and were thrilled to be welcomed back into the Dandenong ward family on Sunday! Samantha talked about how their burdens have been lifted now, and she feels like the way things worked out was all part of God's plan. She was lost but now she's found! She said she could feel that people were praying for her and she knew that God has pulled them back to Him! The Lord indeed moves in mysterious ways!

Samantha and Jancy and Shanti all came to church on Sunday and were absolutely radiant. They smiled so big and were so full of light! Mohsen and Rudy taught gospel principles and did a wonderful job. And our beloved Kylie, a less active sister we're working with, went to the temple again on Saturday and has been to church so many times in a row! I'm really proud of my little flock here in Dandenong and how far they've all come.

I love to serve the Lord and I am so grateful for all He has allowed me to do, learn, and witness as a part of His work!

Much Love,

Sister Larsen

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Miracle and a Half!

G'day g'day!
So remember Robert from last week? Our miracle guy who loves church? Well he's gotten even awesomer this week. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon on Sunday and he was so excited about it. We saw him again on Thursday to teach him at the chapel, so, as we always do, we followed up with how his reading went. Here's how our conversation went:
Sister Larsen: Were you able to read any of the Book of Mormon?
Rob: Yeah, I finished it!
Sister Hatch: Wait, you finished it?
Rob: Yeah, and I'm reading it again!
Sister Hatch: Wait, how long did it take you to finish it?
Rob: Three days! I couldn't stop reading it! I kept missing my bus stops because I was just reading and reading! I especially love the first and second books of Nephi because he journeys in the wilderness like me. The Book of Mormon really relates to me! I've read so many religious books before, but none of them speak to me like this one does!
*And it came to pass that the missionaries fell to the earth, for their astonishment and their joy was so great as to exceed their strength*
I may have forgot to mention that this conversation was taking place in front of the baptismal font because as soon as Robert walked into the church he said, "Where's the dotted line? Where can I sign up? I want to be a Mormon! I want to be a missionary!" So we showed him the proverbial "dotted line"...the baptismal font! Which he will joyfully be entering on July 25! He probably would have been baptized right then and there if we let him!
He's had to go to the Gold Coast this week, but he looked up a chapel near him so he could go to church and he wanted us to sent the local missionaries over to teach him while he's there! He wants nothing more than to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints! It's amazing to hear all the experiences that he's had since he found the Book of Mormon... things are turning out with his family, he's finding a place to stay near his son, he's noticing a change in himself, and he's feeling the love of God and the love of others for the first time in a very long time.

It's such a privilege to be a part of the Lord's work to witness miracles like this! It seems like the Lord pulls out such miracles right when people are finishing their missions. It's such a huge blessing and I am so incredibly grateful.
I love the Lord and I know this is His work! I love to serve Him and be His representative!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Coconut

G'day g'day!
This week has been so gloomy and rainy! Australian winters are actually quite cold, and really dreary. But it's alright because it's better than the 40 degree summers! (That's in Celcius for all you Americans... Don't ask me what it is in Farenheit. I just know it's really, really hot.)
We've been working a lot with this lovely Sri Lankan lady named Dharshi! She is studying with us for all the right reasons: so that she can know which church is God's true Church so she can raise her children in the truth! She's currently 7th Day Adventist but she has a lot of questions about her church so she's searching to find what is really true. So she's studying with us and reading the Book of Mormon! ...Aaaaand she's studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses and going to their church every Sunday, as well as her church on Saturdays. Soooo we shall see. It's kind of interesting to see how splitting your focus between so many different sources kind of prevents you from getting a solid answer. Dharshi is really excited to come to church next week and see what the Mormons are all about!
We also were so blessed to meet the most wonderful guy this week, Robert! I met him at the Dandenong Plaza (the best place to meet amazing people!) and I know it was no coincidence! I talked with him just briefly about the Book of Mormon and offered to give him a copy. He was, as we say here, "keen as" and agreed to meet us at the church the coming Saturday! A few minutes after our conversation, he came up to me again and said, "Thank you so much for talking to me! I was just thinking that I needed to pray again, and then you talked to me! I think it's a sign from God!" I told him that it definitely was!! He unfortunately wasn't able to make it to our appointment on Saturday because he sprained his ankle about half an hour before we were supposed to meet. But he came to church on Sunday and loved it! He cried a little bit after testimony meeting because he felt so much love at church and felt like he was finally part of a family again! He told us how his whole life has been looking up since he met us at the Plaza--how his son, who lives with his ex-partner, is moving to a better, drug-free environment, how he's feeling God's love again, and how he knows that he needs to be here right now! It was so amazing! We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon before he left and he was reading it as he walked away! It's so amazing to see how the Lord prepares people to hear his word!
It's interesting to see how differently people respond to the gospel. We get so many people who, as soon as they hear the word "Jesus," slam their doors in our faces or say unkind things. But then we get people like Robert, who are like coconuts that fall out of nowhere who are ready for the gospel! It's interesting too to compare the types of people who react the way they do. Often it's those with large, beautiful houses who don't want to listen to us, and it's humble people like Robert, who was homeless until just recently, who are willing to accept the message. Just a lesson to all of us to be humble and teachable despite our circumstances!
I love you all! Catch ya later, mates!

xo Sister Larsen

On exchanges in Footscray we went to GQ at a park near the water! Williamstown is so so beautiful! Even though it's cold and gloomy. :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Open Your Mouth and it Shall Be Filled

We have been blessed with so many opportunities to learn this week! We had our zone conference on Friday--eight glorious hours of trainings and receiving revelation! We had wonderful trainings from our assistants to the president, President and Sister Maxwell, and quite a few short 5-minute trainings from the zone leaders and sister training leaders. It was such a spiritual feast! One of my top favorite things about being a missionary has got to be the amazing meetings. I love learning so much!
This Sunday was also a wonderful learning experience. I recently have been praying to know what more I need to do as a missionary and as a disciple, and I felt like I should make a list of gospel principles I wish I understood better, and put it in my study journal where I can refer to it often. Some of the things included the sacrament, Sabbath day worship, setting goals, virtue, and some others. And boy, Heavenly Father has been teaching me about them! This Sunday, both the Gospel Principles lesson and the third hour training focused on the Sabbath and the sacrament! It was an amazing answer to prayer! An RM from another ward spoke in sacrament meeting and taught me a few more things that I want to learn more about. It's amazing how the Lord answers when we ask Him for help, especially when we want to improve.
We had the blessing of going to the temple again this week with another recent convert. Her name is Marie-Claire. She is from Mauritius, is 72 years old, and was baptized the same day as Jorge! The assistants taught her, but we've been working a lot with her recently. She is just fantastic. She loved doing baptisms at the temple with the youth and other recent converts from our ward! That night there were at least five people there for the first time who were there because of the influence of missionaries. It was amazing to see.
We've spent a lot of time tracting this week, trying to find new people to teach. And I love it. I love going finding and searching out those who are prepared and striving to open my mouth and share the gospel with everyone I can! It is the most rewarding work, even if few people actually say yes. Knowing that I have done all I can and that my efforts are pleasing to the Lord is the best reward.
I know this gospel is true, and I know this is the Lord's work! I love my Savior and I am proud to serve Him!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


And so it begins! We picked up our golden, Sister Salyer, on Wednesday! She's from California and is so fresh American. (We say "fresh" about people who are straight from the islands, Samoa, Tonga, etc. It applies pretty well to other countries as well haha) She visa waited in Arizona for 12 weeks, so she's not super golden anymore, but she's bringing us miracles nonetheless. It's strange to hear the American accent again! I guess I'm just used to Sister Hatch's accent so it's not weird, but other Americans' accents sound so strange to me. It'll be weird to come home where everyone sounds like that!

This weekend has just been marvellous! We went to the temple with Mohsen and Rudy and Jorge on Saturday morning. Mohsen loved it! It was so cool to see them all there being all righteous and shiny and stuff. We went to breakfast afterwards with them and our ward mission leader, Jet. It was hilarious and probably the most fun I've had in a while. They're awesome.
On Sunday Jorge gave his first talk and passed the sacrament for the first time! He did a great job with both. And he invited us all over for dinner at his house that evening! He made this awesome Peruvian food, as always. After dinner we had our boys teach us the plan of salvation, which was really cool. Mohsen talked about how Jesus Christ is the reason we can live with God again, and how He overcomes the barriers to make the plan of salvation progress. It was so cool to hear from someone with a Muslim background.
Love you all!

xo Sister Larsen