Monday, April 21, 2014

It's transfers and....

....I'm moving..... a new flat!! (Did I get you for half a second there?)

Sister Leota and I are staying in our same area, but we're moving to a nice new flat in Point Cook. We're moving out because another area is getting a new set of sisters and they're taking our spot in the Werribee flat. So we won't be living with our other sisters any more, which is a bummer, but we will be living closer to our members, which is great!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter! We had a really nice musical fireside here in the mission, and I got to sing in the choir. It has been really nice to take extra time to think about the Savior and His sacrifice for us, but more importantly to think about His resurrection and express gratitude for the opportunity we have to live again and to be made clean through His atonement! What a beautiful truth that is!

These last two weeks have been school holidays, so we got to go on splits with our young women a ton. At least two of them came out with us nearly every day! It's been really cool to watch them want to come out with us and do missionary work. Some of them have been less active for a while, but they're coming back and they love coming to church and youth dances and going on splits with us now, and they all want to go on missions! They always leave the cutest notes at our flat and give us the biggest hugs. I'm so proud of them. They're like the little sisters I never had!

This week I learned a new Aussie slang word: "smash." It can mean a whole lot of things and be used in so many contexts. For example: "I smashed that cake, bro."(Translation: ''I ate that cake really fast.'') "We totally smashed our K's.'' (Translation: ''We really went over our kilometer limit this month.'') ''I can't believe Elder Valdes smashed our toilet!!'' (Translation: ''I can't believe Elder Valdes broke into our flat and left us a lovely present in our toilet and didn't flush and it stunk up the whole flat and now I'm laughing so hard I'm crying!'') All three of these usages of "smash" actually happened to me this week, in case you all were wondering.

I'm really loving the mission. I feel like I'm finally getting adjusted to how everything works here and settling into the missionary lifestyle. I appreciate everyone who has been praying for me! I can feel it! I love you all!!

xoxoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, April 14, 2014

Obedience is Power

Hello friends and family!

I was so blessed this week to be able to watch General Conference! I had heard that conference is like the Superbowl for missionaries, and I can tell you that it isn't. It's BETTER! We got to watch every session on both Saturday and Sunday, and I learned so much from every single talk! The most important thing that the Spirit taught me, though, was a reaffirmation that Thomas S. Monson really is a prophet of God, and that the apostles are chosen men ordained of God. Their words are vital scripture for us today! They are our outlet to hear exactly what God wants us to hear, in language that we can understand in our day! I am so grateful that God loves us so much to give us this direction through prophets.

One of my favorite themes I noticed throughout conference was the theme of obedience. As a missionary, you have heaps and heaps of rules and you're told to be exactly obedient to all of them. As disciples of Christ, missionary or civilian, we have commandments to be obedient to as well. A lot of times I think people think of obedience as a chore, or submission, or a degrading thing that admits that we don't have power. But obedience to God's laws is not. As L. Tom Perry said in his talk on Sunday, obedience is not weakness; it is what qualifies us to receive the power of heaven. Being obedient is choosing to access the infinite wisdom and power of God. All the things he commands us to do are for our own good, will bring us blessings, and will help us come closer to Christ. As we obey our Heavenly Father, we become more like Him. We become qualified to receive the blessings and divine assistance that he yearns to give us. Jesus Christ, as in all things, is our prime exemplar of obedience. He didn't have to suffer in the garden. He didn't have to be nailed on the cross. He was not killed by His crucifiers; He chose to die for us. He had all power to deliver Himself, yet He chose to be obedient to His Father's commandments and complete the atonement. The atonement was made possible by the obedience of our Savior. And if the Savior has such need and such willingness to be obedient to His Father, how much more need have to to be obedient as well. Obedience is not weakness.

And that's my sermon for the week! ;) On another note, we gave our sweet Mercedes a copy of the Book of Mormon this week and she is excited to start reading! She shared an experience that she had while reading her Bible. She said she felt like God was talking to her through the scriptures and telling her that she should listen to the message we have to teach her! So cool! We love her so much, and we know Heavenly Father does too!

Big thanks to everyone who has written me letters and emails! I promise I will get back to all of you as soon as I can! I even bought stamps to send real letters home, but I stuck them in a Book of Mormon and forgot about them and I'm pretty sure I gave that Book to Mercedes. So I'll have to ask for them back soon.

I love you all! The church is true!!

xoxox Sister Larsen

Monday, April 7, 2014

One month!

Hello everyone!
This Wednesday marks my first month out on the mission! How did that happen?! Time is going by so fast now!

The highlight was definitely having my first investigator come to church with us! We met this sweet lady named Mercedes who lives just down the street from us. We met her when she was walking her dog and we were walking to the bus. Her dog has loads of tumors and is being put down today, which is super sad. But she has had us over a couple of times and we taught her the plan of salvation and the restoration and she wants to be baptized! She came to church with us this Sunday and it was so fun to introduce her to everyone! She really loved church and is excited to go again!

I really hope everyone got to watch the women's conference!!! We just got to watch it on Saturday, and it was so beautiful. To the surprise of absolutely no one, I cried probably the whole time. I especially loved Sister Burton's and President Eyring's talks. SO GOOD.

We had a baptism last Saturday that I totally forgot to tell you all about! Their names are Trinity and Lebron. They're kids from a reactivated family who hadn't been baptized before they were eight years old. Their dad baptized them and their grandpa confirmed them. Their dad is this big islander guy who's really funny and kind of tough, and he cried when he bore his testimony after! It was the sweetest thing!

Being a missionary is awesome! Teaching people and feeling the Spirit is seriously the best.
I love you all so much! The church is true!

xo Sister Larsen

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From Julia (and her mom)

A note from Kathy, followed by Julia's latest letter:

Julia didn't have very much time to write a nice, long letter so here is a little more information about what she is doing. She loves her companion. Yeah! This makes me very happy. She said all the sisters are very obedient, hard workers. She loves her district. She says Australia is great and has noticed a few fun differences between the US and Australia. Raisin Bran is called Sultana Bran and granola bars are called muesli bars. Most of the members in her area are Islanders. She has enjoyed getting to learn about a different culture. They are very loving toward her. She has seen a giant spider, but luckily the elders killed it. Her favorite thing about being a missionary is teaching a great lesson. She sounds happy! Thank you all for supporting her and praying for her. We appreciate it so much!

This has been the stinkiest week. We went over our kilometer limit on our car, so we've had to bike for the last few days. It would be fine if our area weren't so big! We had to bike half an hour to Point Cook and half an hour home. There's one road that takes forever to bike, and at night it's totally infested with bugs. It's like biking through a sandstorm, but with bugs! One of them flew in my mouth. Yuck. On the bright side, that road is right though the middle of some sheep farms, so all these cute sheep come up to the fences and just lie there. You can get pretty close before they get spooked and they're SO CUTE. I like to reassure them that I don't want to eat them like everyone else here does.

We biked and biked and biked all week....but hardly anyone who we planned to visit was home. But on Sunday we had the coolest experience with a referral we got from the elders! Her name is Cynthia, and she's from India. She and her husband are super friendly and let us right in. They talked openly about their faith in God and Jesus Christ, and told us their incredibly story about moving to Australia from India, Cynthia's battle with cancer, and their current struggles to have a baby. We felt the Spirit so strongly and we really feel like they're ready to hear the gospel! Our first lesson with them went just like the Preach My Gospel DVDs! That lesson honestly made up for all the useless biking earlier.

Sorry for the short letter this week and scanty replies to everyone else ! I'm running out of time! I love you all heaps!!!

xoxoxo Sister Larsen