Monday, September 29, 2014

Birthday in Melbourne

Dear family and friends,
Big thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! I was the recipient of an abundance of kindness and love on my birthday, which I wasn't expecting and I was really grateful for.
Update on our favorite Nepalese investigator: He originally told us that he wants to get baptized sometime in the distant future, but when we shared a scripture about not procrastinating the day of repentance, he took that as an immediate need to be baptized so he went and got baptized that week! His intentions are so good. We taught him the Restoration again and he's cool with having another baptism. He can be like Godwin, one of the recent converts from Africa, who talks about his two baptisms. One is a great step towards following God, and the second is the one with priesthood authority that is valid in God's books. Bhadra's second baptism is scheduled for October 18th. :)
This week, Masaru brought a cute Japanese friend to church with him! Her name is Hana and she is the cutest thing. Her English is even more limited than Masaru's,so Masaru was our translator. It was so cool to see our very recent convert already sharing the gospel with his friends, and in his own language! He is such a miracle.
We met a really cool guy from India named Tinu. We met him on the street and invited him to come see the chapel right then and he agreed! He told us about how his relationship with God has lessened and how he wants to change. He was so excited to learn about temples and how families can be together forever. He said he wants to bring his girlfriend here from India and marry her in the temple! We talked about baptism and how it could help him so much. He's excited to learn more and he said he would pray about baptism!
On Sunday, one of the few married couples in our branch had us over for dinner. They're from New Zealand and they're just barely finished with uni. They're just getting started on their home and family but they already have such a wonderful spirit of love and devotion to the Lord in their home. We shared a message about the plan of salvation with them, and the Spirit was so strong. It testified to me how much even lifelong members need the basic doctrines that we missionaries teach. These truths are for everyone, whether they've read the Book of Mormon their whole lives or they've never even heard of Jesus Christ! The Gospel is for all!
Being a missionary is just the best thing ever and I never want to stop. I highly recommend it.

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, September 22, 2014

Yet Another Week of Miracles in the City of Zion!

Dearest family and friends,

I can't believe it's already been another week! There are only two weeks left of this transfer and I'm amazed at how fast it goes by. How have I already been a missionary for seven months? How am I almost 20 years old? I may or may not be freaking out. Our time is so short! We need to use it wisely!

So many miracles have happened this week! The biggest was most definitely Masaru's baptism! He asked Elder McFadden, half of the best senior couple ever to serve in Melbourne, to baptize him, and his friend Angeal to do the confirmation. Angeal is Vietnamese but he speaks a little Japanese because he watches a lot of anime (go figure). But at Masaru's baptism, he gave an entire talk in Japanese! His Japanese has gotten better as he has helped us teach Masaru, and Masaru's English has improved immensely as well. Heavenly Father truly blesses His children with the gift of tongues, especially when it can help bring His children home. Masaru said the most wonderful prayer thanking Heavenly Father that he could be baptized. He has grown so much since we've met him! The atonement is amazing!

Four of our Persian friends came to church on Sunday! It was so amazing to see these humble men all coming to learn about Jesus Christ. On Saturday, we watched a video about the Restoration and the First Vision with them, and after it was over they all said, "Again!" We were able to set a baptismal date with three of them for November 1st. They are such a miracle.

We had an interesting experience with Bhadra, our Nepalese investigator, this week. We have taught him quite a few times and set a baptismal date for November 8th, after he gets back from a trip home to Nepal. He came to church an hour early just to tell us that he got baptized on Thursday in another church, then he left for an hour, then he came back for sacrament meeting. Hmm. We're a little confused. Hopefully the more we teach him about priesthood power and the Restoration he will see the need for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and understand its importance.

I love being a missionary so very much! It has been such a time of change for me and I love who the Lord is shaping me into. I am so blessed.

Thank you for all your prayers and support!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, September 15, 2014

"...going strong..."

Dearest family and friends,
The work in Melbourne is going strong!! We have seen bounteous miracles this week!
This week alone, six people came to the branch and asked us to teach them. That's right, six people found us. One of them, Bhadra, is a man from Nepal who was GQ-ed a few months ago by a missionary who has since gone home. He met with the elders once but was too busy to come back. He has more time now so he just came to the branch and wandered around for a few minutes until I talked to him. He wants to learn more about the gospel and about baptism!! He has been studying the Bible for months now and has a great background knowledge. He even asked us about how he can be baptized!! We've taught him about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation, and he asks a lot of great questions. He has such an honest desire to learn. He won't agree to a specific date to be baptized yet, but he says he knows it's something he wants in the future. Another, Santiago, is from Colombia and studies English at the school that's above the branch. He came in because he knew there was a church on the first floor and he wanted somewhere to pray! We talked with him about the Book of Mormon and he said he has a good feeling with us. So fingers crossed that both of them will see the blessings of the gospel and keep wanting to come back!

Our biggest miracle though has been our friends from Iran. When I first arrived in the city, we had a special English class for Iranians and quite a few men would come. They kind of stopped coming after a while and it died down. A couple of them had stayed interested in the church and two of them have been baptized, which is such a huge miracle. But this week, four of them (four!!) came into the branch and asked us to teach them about Jesus Christ! Only one of them had been to the church before, but he had told his housemates about church and they were interested to know more! They talked about how they want a new life and they want to know God's commandments so they can follow him! We've had some wonderful lessons with them about the life of Jesus Christ and His atonement. They have such a desire to change. It's absolutely amazing. Two of them came to the baptism of another Iranian yesterday. The Spirit was so strong there. These men are so humble and willing to learn and it is such a privilege to know them.

I love you all!!

xoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, September 8, 2014


Dearest friends and family,
This was my first week going on exchanges as a sister training leader! I spent Wednesday in the city with Sister Tolutau, who is from Tonga. She had never been in a big city before and was amazed at how busy it was! We went GQ-ing and found two great people who we brought back to the church and taught them right then! The Lord provides some awesome miracles on exchanges! On Friday I spent the day in Croyden with Sister Bennett, who is from Utah. We listened to the David Archuleta Christmas album even though it's only September and it was really great. We also found our first ever "please knock" sticker. (Photo attached if you don't believe me.)
Masaru is doing great! We have taught him nearly every day simply because he's always at the branch. Last night he came to the mission president fireside with us and he got to meet one of the elders serving here from Japan. Masaru shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon with him, which was so special. During the fireside, Masaru kept kind of giggling and smiling a lot, and when Sister Stevenson asked why he was laughing, he said, "Body feel warm." I guess Masaru laughs when he feels the Spirit! Haven't seen that one before.
Being a missionary is so hard and so great! I love it so much! I just wanted to send a  BIG thank you to everyone who writes me letters or emails. I'm always so grateful to hear from everyone, and I'm super duper sorry that I don't reply to all of you. I hope you know I love you even if I don't write back! :)

xoxoxo Sister Larsen

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lost in translation

Dearest, darlingest, friends and family,
I am so happy to say that I am still serving in the CITY!! It's the best place to be and I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. Saying goodbye to Sister Vuta was hard, but I'm super excited for this next transfer which makes everything better. I'm serving with Sister Stevenson, who is from Texas and is a ray of sunshine. We've talked and made a lot of plans to raise our vision for this next transfer and have (hopefully) more success thane ever before! We're excited to be completely exactly obedient and take daily leaps of faith! Also last night we spent a good half hour quoting Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, so I have a feeling this is going to be a great companionship. :)
I've been assigned to be a sister training leader this transfer, so I had the privilege of going to the mission leaders conference on Friday. We discussed a lot about obedience and conversion. I'm excited to be a part of the driving force for change in our mission and to have the opportunity to serve and uplift the sisters in our area.
We have been teaching a Japanese boy named Masaru for the last week or so. His English is quite honestly pretty terrible, so teaching him has been an interesting experience. I think he initially came to church to learn English, but we taught him about God and prayer anyway. Our first lesson was pretty awkward with trying to explain what prayer is and how to pray. We asked Masaru if he had ever prayed before, and he said, "Yes! I pray tennis, I pray ping pong..." and Sister Stevenson and I had to try really hard not to giggle. But he agreed to come back for another lesson! He came a couple days later for English class and stayed at the branch literally all day, and then went to a fireside with the members in the evening. He is, as Sister Stevenson has coined, a branch enthusiast. He's seriously at the church all the time. The members have just taken him under their wing, even with their limited ability to communicate with each other. Masaru is going to be baptized on September 27 and he can't wait! He went to the baptism of a Vietnamese girl and an Iranian man (who is such a miracle in and of himself) and asked three times if he could be baptized with them. Just goes to show how the Spirit is the true teacher. Also major props to the Church for having "The Restoration" and "Finding Faith in Christ" DVDs in Japanese. The gospel is so worldwide! It's beautiful!

Much love to everyone!!

xoxo Sister Larsen

PS: If any of you ever get to try Vietnamese rice paper rolls, I highly recommend it.