Monday, July 28, 2014

Week two in the city

Dearest family and friends,
Week two in the city has been wonderful!
This week I:
~worked on learning how to navigate the trams between our home in Richmond and the chapel in the city
~got a little better at talking to strangers on the street (turns out I just need to take that first step to initiate conversation and then I'm pretty sweet)
~learned a couple phrases in Vietnamese (xin chou!)
~set a solid baptismal date with our investigator, Ken. He is from Thailand and has lived in Melbourne for a few years. He is so enthusiastic about learning the gospel and is so diligent in reading the scriptures! I am so excited to continue to help him progress.
~met a girl named Tijana who is absolutely amazing. The elders are teaching her, but I just want to be her best friend. She's Aussie and a total hippie, which is not normally the type to be receptive to the gospel, but she came to church on Sunday and loved it so much that she didn't want to leave!
I love the city and I love being a missionary and I love the gospel!!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, July 21, 2014

The City!

Dearest family and friends,

I've been transferred to..... *drumroll*


I could not be happier about it! Melbourne is so bustling and alive and I love everything about it! The branch here is so adorable. It's mostly made up of international students, a lot of whom are Vietnamese. Most of the members have been baptized for a year or less. The branch meets in the first level of an office building. It's small, but it's always full of people! The branch members are all really close with each other and with the missionaries. It's like one big multicultural family! It's such a unique place with such special people.

We don't do any tracting in the city, but we do what we call Golden Questioning, or GQ-ing, where we just strike up conversations with people on the street. As you would probably guess, that is just plain terrifying for me. Luckily my wonderful companion, Sister Vuta, is not afraid, so I can follow her lead. GQ-ing is amazing though, especially in the city. This week alone I have talked to people from Japan, China, Thailand, Tasmania, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, all of whom were just walking down the street or sitting on a bench. For some reason people are more likely to hold a good conversation with you if you talk to them on the street than if you knock on their door.

We have seen so many miracles this week with teaching and GQ-ing. The most amazing one was Fin. She is a lady from Vietnam who was only visiting Melbourne for a week. We started chatting with her and invited her to see our chapel, which was about a five minute walk away. She was very interested and told us that she is Catholic but she always finds a church to go to whenever she travels. We gave her a tour of the chapel and she kept asking us what makes our church different from other churches. In Vietnam, they only have Catholic and Protestant churches, and ours was a third different one that she did not know, so we taught her the restoration. When we talked with her about the first vision, she said she got goosebumps! She was so excited to learn about the Book of Mormon and we gave her copies in English and Vietnamese. After we taught her she kept telling us how grateful she was and how she felt that God had meant for her to meet us. She gave us big hugs before she left, and we gave her our phone number even though she was leaving the city a couple days later. Yesterday she texted us, saying that she was on a bus to Canberra and was reading the Book of Mormon! I am so excited for her. I just know that she will get baptized one day. I really hope she finds the church when she goes back to Vietnam, because I know how much the gospel will bless her life!

I am so blessed to be able to serve here in the city. It's such a special experience and you get to meet so many wonderful people. The Lord's work is alive and well here in Melbourne!

Much Love,
Sister Larsen

Monday, July 14, 2014

Miracles and Transfer News

Oh, man. This week.
This week I got to witness the baptism of my darling little Aprilia! She may only be eight years old, but she is wise beyond her years. She knows what it means to have a testimony and she truly understands what the gospel is really all about. During her baptismal interview, Elder Apulu asked her what repentance means. She paused and thought for a minute, and then said, "Change."
It has been so incredible to watch the change in her entire family. Their mom who never used to say a word to us now has been taught the restoration, has had us over for family home evenings, and invited us to Aprilia's birthday party. Latetia, the oldest sister, used to mock Natalya for not drinking and would leave every time we came over, now talks with us for hours and tells us how glad she is that she knows us. She has so many questions to ask about the gospel and is always so excited to learn more. Last week we taught her the plan of salvation and challenged her to pray about baptism, and she did! She said prayed and then she had a dream that she got baptized in a silk dress. She told us, "Now I know I need to get baptized! I just need to know what day!" There is such a different spirit in their home and it has been so amazing to watch the change in each of them. Natalya is so happy that her family is beginning to follow in her footsteps. For Aprilia's baptism, our primiary president gave her framed pictures of Jesus Christ and of the temple, and Natalya put them in their living room so everyone can see them every day. She is such a good example to her family. It's amazing to see how one person can be the catalyst for the change of a whole family. I've been so privileged to be a part of their lives and their change.
I feel like I've finally gotten the hang of what missionary work is all about. It's about helping people to change. It's about uniting families in the gospel. It's about loving people and helping them to see how much Heavenly Father loves them too. And it's about moving on when your work is done.
The transfer news is in and I am bidding farewell to Point Cook. I'm sad that I won't be able to continue to be a part of the Solomon's conversion, but I feel at peace about the change. I think it's about time to go wherever the Lord needs me.

I love you all! The church is true! The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families in a way that nothing else can!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, July 7, 2014

"I Feel Great!"

Dear family and friends,

This week has been so miraculous!

We have been working with our wonderful family and teaching Aprillia all the lessons so she can be baptized this coming Sunday. We found out that Jecinta's mom isn't too keen on letting her get baptized because she has already been Christened Catholic, but hopefully we'll get to see more of her to see where she really stands. Zandria's date has been pushed back to the 27th because she doesn't quite feel ready. We hadn't seen Chozan for at least a week, so we had assumed that he would want to push his date back as well, if he was even still really interested. But they had promised to come to church on Sunday, so we waited expectantly through all of sacrament meeting, hoping that they would come in late. When they didn't, Sister Rooney and I were devastated! We stressed out all through the second hour class, and afterwards we decided to just go over to their house and invite them to come to the 1:00 ward. So we left church an hour early and just showed up at their house! Turns out they were awake and ready to go...but their ride didn't come. :( We called everyone we could think of to get a ride for them to church, and we finally got ahold of a sister in our ward who was willing to drive them! So Chozan, Aprillia, Natalya, and their little sister Impala all went to the chapel and attended all three hours of church together! We sat with Natalya and Chozan in class and Chozan seemed to really enjoy it. After church, we showed Aprillia the baptismal font so she could see where she's going to get baptized. We asked Chozan how he felt about baptism, and he said, "I feel great!" We asked him when he felt like he could get baptized and he said, "After Aprillia?" Sister Rooney and I were like, "Wait, straight after?" And Chozan just said yes like it was the most obvious thing! We had no idea that he was still reading and praying and wanting to get baptized! Apparently he's been reading all the pamphlets we gave him and studying with Natalya, his sister who is a member. His other sister has been giving him a hard time for "wanting to be Mormon" but he doesn't care. He just knows it's right!
They had planned to get baptized on the 13th, but with some complications with the chapel and the members it might be pushed back to the 19th. But as long as they get baptized, that's all that matters. We've got a busy week ahead of us, because we have to teach Chozan all of the lessons before he can have his baptismal interview and all that jazz. But we are so, so excited! Heavenly Father definitely answers prayers and prepares people to hear the gospel!!

I love you all!

xoxo Sister Larsen