Monday, June 30, 2014


Dear friends and family,

This week I:

~Taught our miracle baptism dates' mom the restoration. When we asked her to pray about it, she said she felt like God would tell her it was true.
~Introduced Daisy, one of our recent converts, to Ria and Nawa, some of our investigators who are sisters. They're all Maori girls from New Zealand who have young families, and they live around the corner from each other. Fingers crossed they become fast friends. Daisy's testimony is so fresh and golden and I really hope she rubs off on them.
~Spent a wonderful evening with the Richards family. We stopped by to drop off some cookies we baked and share a lesson, and they invited us to stay for dinner. I absolutely adore them. Brother and Sister Richards both come from kind of rough backgrounds, but they have both become so strong in the gospel. Their testimonies are so strong and they are so inspiring. It's a privilege to be able to know them.
~Attended a multicultural night that our neighboring ward put on. They invited a Seikh group to come and perform (they did some crazy sword fighting martial arts, and finished off my cracking coconuts on people's heads with baseball bats), as well as a Samoan Chrisitan group (they sang Christian songs like an islander barbershop quartet!). One of the YSA girls in our ward did some Hawaiian and Cook Island hula with a girl from her hula troupe (in the middle of their routine, they pulled a bunch of guys from the audience on the floor and taught them how to hula! It was so awkward and hilarious), another ward did Samoan dancing (in lavalavas with feather headdresses!) aaaaand....the missionaries did the haka! Even the sisters! It was killer. We all yelled so loudly that most of the elders lost their voices the next day! Not to brag, but we totally stole the show.
Unfortunately my camera was accidentally locked in the bishop's office so I didn't get any videos. :( But a lot of the other missionaries did, so they should be sending them to me today! So you can see me do the haka next week. If there's something I never thought I'd learn how to do, it's the haka. But hey! It's pretty awesome.

Love you all!! xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, June 23, 2014

"So? Just read!"

Dearest friends and family,

I'm not exaggerating when I say that all but a couple of our appointments fell through this week. We spent six days driving from planned appointment to planned appointment only to have people text us to cancel or be sick or otherwise unavailable to talk with us.

But on Sunday, we had the greatest miracle. We have been teaching Aprillia, who is the seven-year-old sister of Natalya, a 14-year-old recent convert. Natalya is the only member in her family, but has been such a good example to her siblings. Aprillia said that what she wants for her birthday is to be baptized, so we have been teaching her all the lessons to her seven-year-old understanding. Sometimes her older siblings would sit in and listen, but they never seemed very interested. This time, though, there was someting different about them. They were genuinely interested and really wanted to learn. After we taught the plan of salvation, Natalya's older brother, Chozan, said, "I want to move in with God." Sister Rooney and I kind of just looked at each other and were like, "You know how you can do that? By getting baptized!" Jesinta, their family friend who pretty much lives at their house, then asked us about the difference between christening and baptism, and expressed that even though she was christened as a baby she doesn't know much about God. She asked if we have any books that teach the basics about God, so Sister Rooney and I whipped out our pamphlets and a copy of the Book of Mormon! She was so excited. We then invited Chozan, his younger sister Zandria, and Jesinta to work towards getting baptized on the same day as Aprillia, July 13th! They were all so excited to pray and receive answers, as well as read more about the gospel. They all promised they would come to church as well! We had never expected that much from them. They had never seemed interested before. Right before we left, another one of Natalya's sisters, Latitia, came in. She always kind of gives Natalya a hard time for not drinking or smoking and all that, because Latitia is a huge party animal. She looked at all the pamphlets in Jesinta's hands and said, "You know you can't drink anymore if you do that." And Jesinta just held up the pamphlets and said, "So? Just read!" It was truly a miracle.

We also had the opportunity to go to the baptism of Brother Kong, the Chinese elders' investigator. He's the first Chinese person to be baptized into the Point Cook ward! All the talks were in Chinese and the baptism and confirmation were said in Chinese as well. It was a really cool experience. Brother Kong looked so happy afterward. He cried pretty much the whole time and kept putting his hand on his chest and saying, "So warm." He came to church on Sunday in a suit and a borrowed jacket from Elder Shum. He looked so proud of himself. It was so cool to watch him be able to make promises with Heavenly Father and to see the change that came over him as he did.

The Gospel is real!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Here we kneel in the sand..."

Dearest family and friends,
This week has been the most miraculous week.
I got my new companion, Sister Rooney, at transfer meeting on Tuesday. She is from Adelaide and has been out for nine months. She's super adorable and bubbly and she sings all the time and has cool glasses. People ask us all the time if we're sisters, probably because we're both blonde and super white. I love her already. (And apparently our moms are already chatting on facebook. The creeps.)
Transfer meeting is always inspiring because we get to hear the testimonies of the departing missionaries, but this one was especially inspiring. Elder Maifala, my zone leader, went home this transfer, and in his departing testimony he mentioned that video with Elder Holland that I wrote about last week. He also bore his testimony that we are all supposed to be here, and that we shouldn't go home because we feel like we aren't doing any good. The Lord called us here, and this is where we are meant to be. That was just another confirmation to me of what I learned last week about the work not being easy, but being so very necessary.
Tuesday evening Sister Rooney and I went to go meet our ward mission leader. While we were at his house, his wife shared an awesome video with us about John Tanner, one of the early saints. (You can watch it here). He was a self-made wealthy man who converted to the church and was healed from a canker on his leg that threatened to take his life. What really impressed me about his story, though, was not his miraculous healing, but more his miraculous faith. After he became converted, he gave every penny he had earned to the church. He invested in the temple and in other church prospects for the progression of God's kingdom here on earth, and he never got a penny of it back. But what he did gain was faith in the Lord and in His purposes. He really understood how to consecrate everything he had to the Lord and understood the blessings that come from it. I was so impressed with his faith, and I've been thinking about his willing sacrifice constantly. I want to be able to have faith like that so that I can truly give my all to the Lord and to His work.
That same evening, Sister Rooney shared a bit of a poem with me. It's about a group of pioneers who had faced an extremely treacherous, very un-miraculous journey, and had gotten just close enough to their destination that they knew they were going to make it. It reads:
"Here we kneel in the sand, grateful for every unanswered plea that proved us. Faith is the mountain that would not flee, the water that would not part, the stone that did not turn to bread, instead marks our dead." That poem really hit me. Faith is not always manifested in miracles. Faith is enduring through the hardships and remaining faithful. Faith is trusting the Lord through whatever trial He sees fit to lay upon you, and believing that He could work miracles if it were His plan to do so.

I am grateful for every unanswered plea that proved me. And now I am grateful for the miracles that the Lord is working in my missionary work.
Every day of this new transfer, we have seen a miracle. Wednesday, we found seven new contacts in half an hour. Thursday, we set a baptism date with our investigator, Emma, who had basically come to us and said that she wanted to be a Mormon and that she felt ready and committed to being baptized. Friday, we re-contacted one of our former investigators who said she wanted to take the lessons from the beginning. Saturday, Sister Rooney and I had a wonderful discussion about obedience and both committed ourselves to being exactly obedient with a willing heart. And Sunday, my personal favorite miracle, we set a baptism date with Victoria.
Victoria has wanted to be baptized ever since the missionaries started visiting her family, but we haven't felt able to invite her and Antonio to be baptized because we didn't want to offend their dad, who is Muslim. But on Sunday, we taught the plan of salvation to their whole family, and asked their father if he would be willing to allow his children to be baptized. And he said yes! As soon as he said yes, Victoria burst into tears. She is so excited. She said she wants to either be baptized on Christmas because it's Christ's birthday and He is the reason she's getting baptized, or on her birthday, July 19th. We picked July 19th for her because it's sooner. ;) Antonio is still waiting for his answer if baptism is right for him, and waiting for confirmation from Heavenly Father that he is worthy to be baptized. He really likes to be 100% sure about things before he commits, and I think he doesn't feel worthy simply because he doesn't feel like he was 100% faith yet. We invited him to keep praying, and we feel like he will get his answer very soon. The change that we have seen in him just this week is miraculous. During fast and testimony meeting, I noticed that he was crying, (Which is okay, because I was too. It was a killer testimony meeting.) and when we taught their family on Sunday, he looked at us more and gave longer answers to our questions. He is very, very shy, so he normally doesn't talk very much and hardly looks up. But when he told us about his desires to find his own witness, he looked us in the eye! And when we left, his handshake was just that much firmer.

The Lord really works in marvellous ways, and it's incredible to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ can change people. I know I've seen it change me. I hope that I can always keep changing and keep growing closer to my Savior, because the moment I think I have changed enough and I am good enough is the moment I lose His help, and there is no way I can do this without Him.
The gospel is so, so true. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of it, and the opportunity to share it with all of our Father's children.
Much Love,
Sister Larsen

Monday, June 2, 2014

Remember Him

Dearest family and friends,
I'm not going to lie; this week has been really hard. Sister Leota was really sick this week so we spent all of Tuesday in the flat, we had another day when we weren't able to make it to any of our appointments, we weren't able to follow up with Victoria and Antonio about baptism, I had my first encounter with someone giving us a fake address, and to top it all off, my companion is getting transferred and I'm really nervous about the change. But I guess the Lord breaks us down so that He can build us back up again.
This week at zone meeting, the elders shared the most wonderful video that really helped me to refocus. It's based on talks by Elder Holland and President Eyring. It's about the Atonement and why the mission won't ever be easy. Elder Holland talks about how missionaries will ask why the mission is so hard. We want to know why people aren't flocking to the baptismal font. The message we have is so true, so why aren't people coming? He then says that says that the mission won't be easy because salvation is not easy. The Atonement wasn't easy for Christ, so why should bringing people to salvation be easy for us? There was no other way, no easier way, for the Savior of the world to accomplish His work, so why should we expect our work to be easy? That really hit me. It's not going to be easy, and it's not supposed to be. I may or may not have full on cried (Not any of this tearing up and sniffling business. More of the Les Mis cry.) during our zone meeting. Then our stake president showed the same video in stake conference on Saturday. I guess this is something Heavenly Father really wants me to learn. I've been trying to learn a lot about the Atonement this week and really trying to figure out what it means to rely on the Savior. Because I really, really can't do this on my own.
I've also had an eye opening realization about success. Just before we watched that video at zone conference, I got the strongest feeling that I need to change my perspective. I've been wanting success on the mission so that I can feel successful and so I can feel better about my efforts. But I really should be wanting success because I want my investigators to succeed. I should be wanting success because I care about their progression and their salvation, not because I want a pat on the back and a gold star. I know that sound so selfish and shallow, and maybe that's what I am. But I really want to change. I want to want this for other people. I want to give my mission to the Lord and fully live every day for HIM. This is HIS work and HIS glory. Not mine, not anyone else's. I just always need to remember that.
And I always need to remember Him. I need to always remember how much He has done for me and how much I owe Him. He is the reason I live now and the reason I will live again. It's because of Him that I'm here, and because of Him that I can be saved, and because of Him that I need to work.
I love you all! Always remember that your Father in Heaven and your Savior love you too.
xoxo Sister Larsen