Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Monday, August 3, 2015
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
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!
Monday, July 13, 2015
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!
Monday, July 6, 2015
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
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
Monday, June 1, 2015
G'day g'day!Not too much to report this week... There was a lot of cold weather and crises with our sisters and a lot of us fixing things and trying to find new people to teach. But such is life.
We got to go to the temple this week, which was wonderful! I love being able to go with my fellow missionaries. It's cool to feel the spirit that is there with all of us as servants of the Lord. The only thing better is to be in the temple with my family.
It was President Maxwell's birthday! Sister Maxwell organized a massive celebration with nearly all the missionaries in attendance! There were wonderful musical numbers (a few of President's favorite hymns sung by a missionary choir, a selection from the Messiah by his son-in-law, and a few other hymns sung by the favorite mission singers) and a hilarous and adorable slideshow of President's life, followed by brownies and ice cream for everyone! We all stayed for nearly an hour afterwards and were just able to talk with each other and have fun with no pressure to rush back for appointments. It felt really good to just relax for a second! I think I've forgotten what that feels like.
We had dinner at Rudy's on Saturday like we usually do. Jorge got us another fabulously thoughtful cake! We watched Elder Holland's talk from conference, "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet." It was so wonderful.
It was sad to hear about Elder L. Tom Perry's passing. Many missionaries, and I'm sure many others, are praying for his family. I am so grateful that we do have prophets and apostles on the earth today, and I am grateful that we can trust that whoever fills Elder Perry's place will be called of God just as he was.
PS, in the photo are Jorge, me, Sister Hatch, our friend Liga (she's going on her mission to Sydney in a month!), Mohsen, and Rudy. Cool people.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
We are continuing to see miracles in Dandenong! We are so blessed to be able to serve here.
Mohsen, Rudy's Iranian friend, is doing AWESOME. He's all set to be baptized on June 13th! He could be baptized next week if it weren't for scheduling conflicts in the ward and Mohsen's trip to Sydney with Rudy and Jorge. But he is so ready! He's been praying and praying to know the right path to take. Yesterday he told us that since he's been learning from us there has been so much more positivity in his life and he can tell that this is good! He takes that as his answer that this is the right path for him. We taught him all the "big" commandments the other night (Word of Wisdom, law of chastity, tithing, all the ones that missionaries are scared to teach) and he's all goods with it. He said it will be hard but he is willing to change. Jorge shared his experience with changing to live all the commandments, and he told Mohsen about how it was hard for him too but he was able to adapt and now he's happier than before. Mohsen really looks up to Jorge. And we are so incredibly proud of our Jorge! He's only been a member for about two months and he's already teaching gospel principles and helping us so much with teaching his friends. Yesterday after church he took Mohsen to go meet Bishop. He takes such responsibility for things in the Church and shows so much commitment to the Savior. We're lucky to have him.
Remember our miracle Persian family from last week? They invited us to go to their church with them on Saturday, but the day of they texted us and told us that we couldn't come anymore because their priest doesn't welcome Mormons. Let me tell you how much we freaked out when we got that text!! So many things starting flashing through our minds... What did the priest tell them about us? What are they thinking now? Are they going to avoid us like lepers now?? I was so nervous. We dropped in on them yesterday morning to see how things were. Turns out they were really surprised that their priest didn't welcome us. Giselle was really upset about it. She didn't understand why someone wouldn't welcome someone else into the house of God, especially a fellow Christian. She and Dylan asked us a few questions about things their priest told them, about differences in our doctrines and such. We were able to answer them, but we always directed them back to gaining a witness from God and asking Him to direct us to truth. Giselle really wants answers, so she is going to Bible study at her church on Wednesday and asking her priest all her questions. She's going to tell him that she's reading the Book of Mormon and she doesn't care what he says because she wants answers! And if his answers don't convince her, she's going to come to our church on Sunday and ask our bishop. We are hoping and praying that they will be guided by the light of Christ and by the Holy Ghost to know what is true. It was just such a miracle to meet them! I guess we'll find out what happens after Wednesday...
We have been so blessed with wonderful people to teach! And it's such a blessing to work here among so many people of the holy land. We are able to teach people who would have no other way to hear the restored gospel because of the way their countries are. Mohsen was telling us how grateful he is to be here in Australia where he can learn about other religions and really find the truth. It's such a blessing to be able to teach here! I love the Lord's work!
Much Love,Sister Larsen
Thursday, May 21, 2015
We went over the next day and brought a Book of Mormon in English and in Persian. Dylan speaks perfect English but his parents speak next to no English at all. When we came, we spoke with Dylan and his mom, Giselle. We talked about Jesus Christ and their conversion to Christianity, how they forsake their country and risked their lives to come here and be baptized. We spoke a bit about the Book of Mormon. Dylan would translate for his mom every now and then. When we said Mormon, Giselle perked up and listened more. We showed them a copy of the Book of Mormon in English and Giselle started talking in Persian. Apparently when their boat first landed in Australia, they were in a detention center for a while and Giselle spent some time in the hospital. One of the carers at the hospital was a member, and he gave her a Persian Book of Mormon to read. She read the entire thing while she was there! She loves the book! She says the stories are so easy to understand. When she finished it she loaned it to the other person in her hospital room to read, but she was discharged from the hospital before she could get it back. She has been looking for the Book of Mormon ever since! She asked her friends at the Persian church they attend, but no one knew anything about it. And then...here we were, showing them the Book of Mormon! She said she wanted to look for a Persian translation. So I pulled one out of my bag and gave it to her. She looked at the book like an old friend, and started reading it right then.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Sorry about the lack of letter last week! We went to the city for Pday last week and it was a public holiday so the library wasn't open. And the state library was entirely full. But we popped into the branch for a bit and saw some of my favorite people! It was amazing! It felt kind of different to be there and not be assigned as a missionary there. When I served in the city, I felt a responsibility, or a stewardship if you will, for the people there. I felt so compelled to talk to everyone because it was my job to take care of them. But since it wasn't my area anymore, it felt a little different. I can't quite explain it.
But this Pday I am writing to you all from the wonderful city of Launcestion, Tasmania!!!! Sister Hatch and I are the sister training leaders for the sisters down here, so we get to come down for a couple of days for exchanges. And seriously, this is the most amazing place. It's a lot of country and even the city itself feels a bit small town-y. I adore it. And today we went to this wildlife preserve called Trawunna where I got to fulfill my lifelong dream (well, maybe not lifelong...but I've had it since I got my mission call anyway) of holding a wombat!!!! It was seriously the most amazing thing ever. Her name was Georgie and she was so cute and snuggly and aaaahh. I can't even. Aaand I'm really super sorry I don't have any photos because I forgot my card reader for my camera. Next week though! Promise!
Life in Dandenong is also pretty good. We're kind of struggling to find solid investigators at the moment, and we've been super busy with exchanges and giving trainings at various meetings and such. And we spent this weekend watching conference! We had one investigator come. His name is Juma and he's from Afghanistan. He doesn't speak much English but was plenty happy to introduce himself to people. He even found his own seat and sat down to listen happily to the talks. Not sure how much he understood...but he's always happy to come. He's great.
Life as a missionary is crazy! But so, so worth it. I love Australia and I love teaching people the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and I love seeing the atonement of Jesus Christ change people, whether they be investigators or fellow missionaries. The Church is true!
Love you all!!
xo Sister Larsen
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Sorry for the late letter! We only had thirty minutes to email on Monday because it was sisters p-day for all the sisters in the mission! We were running around like crazy making sure everything was organized and everyone had a ride and a place to stay for the night and wow. Just craziness. Today was sisters conference and it was wonderful! We had a lot of great trainings from various sisters, all centered on the theme "Be Loyal to the Royal Within." We talked about taking charge of your physical well-being (a la Elder Klebingat) by taking care of your flat, your physical fitness, and your eating habits. We had some other good trainings about dealing with anti-Mormon literature and overcoming feelings of inadequacy. Some interesting and maybe unconventional missionary topics, but we all left really uplifted. Least of all because it was great to see all the sisters. :)
We said goodbye to Sister Vermeulen last Tuesday! She's landed safely in South Africa, as some of the members who have talked to her on Facebook have let me know. And I got my new companion, Sister Hatch! She's from Arizona and is the bomb.com. She just came from serving in the city so we talk about the city branch all the time and all our favourite people, like Masaru. She has all these videos of him doing funny things and we just watch them and laugh.
We've started teaching this guy from Dubai named Adeel. We met him when I was with Sister Vermeulen and Sister Vakalahi still. We tracted into him and he invited us in and we had the most amazing lesson. He is so sincerely wanting to change his life and be a better person. We taught him at the chapel this week with Sister Hatch and invited him to be baptized! He said yes! We're aiming for April 25, but he works from 5am to 5pm every Sunday, so we'll see if that date works out. But he is so cool. I'm really excited to teach him, and to introduce him to Jorge. I think they will be great friends and Jorge will help him a lot to find the truth he is seeking.
On a random note, we had a crazy experience with this freaky super loud breathing noise that we heard outside our bathroom window in the middle of the night. We heard it on three separate occasions and we were super scared. Well, I was super scared. Sister Hatch is tougher than me. The third time we heard it we called the APs even though it was definitely past our bedtime and because they're the best APs ever they came and looked in our backyard. There was nothing. Then they said there's a possum that lives in the tree. So most likely it was just a possum and I freaked out for nothing. Now Elder Woodruff teases me about possums. It's fine.
And that's our adventures in Dandenong for this week. All is well in the land down under.
xo Sister Larsen
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
G'day g'day!We had the wonderful privilege this week of witnesses Jorge's baptism!!! He was so prepared and so very excited to be baptized and make this covenant with Heavenly Father. Our wonderful bishop baptized and confirmed him. Jorge cried when he came up out of the water, the softie. He's been crying for the last two weeks or so because he's been feeling the Spirit a lot and been so happy to be a part of the gospel. We tease him a bit but really we're thrilled.
Jorge received the Aaronic priesthood yesterday, and is planning to attend the temple on Saturday to do baptisms for the dead! If all goes well, Samantha and Jancy will be coming too. It will be a blessed day.
Samantha and Jancy's mom, Shanti, has been so interested in the gospel. She doesn't speak much English, so after we leave Samantha and Jancy tell her everything we taught in Tamil. We saw a total miracle with their dad, who is Buddhist and doesn't really like Christians. He noticed that ever since Samantha and Jancy started coming to church, everything with their visa application has gone without a hitch. Normally it can take up to 2-3 years to get a visa here, but they got theirs in about 3 months! Their dad took that as a sign, and has since started coming to church! He even bought some nice shirts especially for church! :) We're so hoping to be able to teach them properly soon. If only I spoke Tamil!
I love you all!
xo Sister Larsen
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Our mission had the priceless opportunity of spending three hours with Elder David A. Benar this week!! It was the most amazing learning experience! He asked us to study three of his articles beforehand, "Ask in Faith," "Converted Unto the Lord," and "Seek Learning By Faith." They were all spectacular and I learned so much from them. When we met with him I was expecting a three hour talk of amazingness and inspiration, but instead Elder Bednar chose to spend his time talking with us, not to us. He set some expectations, cracked some jokes to make everyone feel comfortable, and then asked us what we learned. Missionary after missionary answered with insights they had from studying the articles. After each insight was shared, Elder Bednar asked, "Elder, may I ask you a question?" and then would ask another question to help deepend the missionary's understanding and help him dig a little deeper and learn more. It was amazing to watch. After a few minutes of that, he asked us all, "What are you learning from the comments being shared?" And later, "What are you learning from this teaching pattern?" I honestly learned so much about teaching from his example, not from his words. He taught us about listening and discerning and understanding and loving, all by doing it himself. He showed us how agency is so important in the learning process, and how we must act in order for the Spirit to carry the message not only unto but into our hearts. He showed us how the Savior would teach by walking with us and helping us to truly understand and find answers for ourselves. It was so valuable. I want to always teach like the Savior does.
After our amazing afternoon with Elder Bednar, we sped off to Samantha and Jancy's baptism!! They were so beautiful in there white dresses. They were baptized by Bishop Lavaka, who is the most gentle, kind, Christlike man. There was such a special spirit during their baptisms and confirmations, and especially when they shared their testimonies with us. There bore testimony of the Savior, of the Book of Mormon, and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was so amazing to hear them bear testimony of the things that the Spirit has witnessed to them are true. Samantha and Jancy were so filled with joy after their baptism, and are even more excited for their next step: going to the temple! <3
I love this work! I know it is the Lord's work. I have felt His hand so tangibly in my life. I have felt Him lift me and strengthen me and give me power and peace beyond my own. I love Him with all my heart! It is my greatest desire to be with Him again once my work here on earth is finished. And I'm taking everyone I can with me. :)
xo Sister Larsen
Monday, February 2, 2015
We read about the prophets being persecuted. We know that they were cast out and stoned and killed for what they preached to the people. We admire the early saints for their resilience in the face of the adversary. But it isn't until we stand up on the wall and cry repentance ourselves that we can begin to understand the kind of faith we need to have to resist the arrows of the adversary.
The people of Dandenong threw me some interesting arrows this week. Person after person used the same one. I would tell them about how the truth was lost and brought back through a prophet named Joseph Smith, and how the proof of that is in a book called the Book of Mormon. They all told me, "That's not true." I've had people say they don't believe it, or people question the message of the restoration, but never have I had people tell me outright, "That's not true." And then this week, person after person after person, angrily told me that I have it wrong, that my convictions are false, that I have been deceived. People have told me to go away and cursed me in unkown languages and offered to sit down with me and tell me the "truth" because I am confused and what I believe won't get me to heaven. They told me I should be afraid of hellfire. I told them they cannot tell me what I know and do not know. I shook their hands and walked away.
But what they don't know is that what they are reviling against is the way, the truth, and the life. They don't know that they are following in the footsteps of many before them in rejecting the fruit of the tree of life and feeling their way towards the great and spacious building. It doesn't matter that they reject me; I'm just a 20 year old who still has a lot to learn. But it does matter that they reject the message that I have been sent to deliver. "For behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." His word is the truth. His word is the way to everlasting life. That truth and that way does not change with the opinions of men. They can deny the truth all they want, but that does not change universal, eternal truth.
And though men rebel against it, I know with a surety that the truth is on the earth again. I know that I have been called to share it with the world. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the way. And I come to cry repentance. Let men say what they will. I will just be grateful that they no longer use stones.
Monday, January 19, 2015
G'day friends and family! (And a special hello to my friends from the Melbourne 2nd Branch! I just realized I had your emails so I could send you a weekly hello. I hope this gets through to all of you. :) )
This week has been so incredible in so many ways! We had the privilege of having a visit from Elder Pearson of the Seventy. He did a few zone conferences around the mission as well as a special mission leadership council session. It's really an amazing opportunity to hear directly from one of the Lord's ordained servants as to how we can better our mission and ourselves. He talked a lot about change and forgetting ourselves so that we can be fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. A notable catchphrase of the meeting: "Things that don't change stay the same." Or in other words, if we never make the effort to change and better ourselves, then we will always be the same person we have always been, and we will always get the same results that we have always gotten. It seems like such a simple and obvious principle, but I am constantly surprised by how often I need to relearn it.
Since then I have been striving focus completely on the Lord and be as in tune with the Spirit as possible. I certainly have a long way to go and it seems like every time I think I'm good at something I find something else that I need to work on, but hey, eternal progression wouldn't be eternal if there weren't always something more to work on.
We have been able to see so many miracles this week.On that I'd like to share was with a lady named Selena. We had been going through the records of some former investigators and found a couple that we wanted to try to contact again, but their address only had a street name, not a house number. So we decided to do what missionaries do best and knock on all the doors on that street to try to find them. We parked and walked up to the closest house. As we were approaching the door, I had a feeling that this house was going to be a good one. An Aussie lady in a tank top and long shorts answered and said, "Hey guys! How are you?" We were a bit taken aback; the typical response from Aussies is certainly not that friendly. We introduced ourselves and she invited us in. She told us about how she had had missionaries over every now and then before, but that she and her partner were Christian and not looking to change. She knew that missionaries do a good job and she likes to have them around. As we talked with her more, she told us that she and her partner had had a fight earlier that day and that she was having a hard time, but that every time she struggled, the elders showed up. And now she was struggling and here we were! She started to cry and we shared with her Helaman 5:12 and asked her to replace "my sons" with her own name. We talked about how families founded on the rock of Jesus Christ will be strong through whatever storms Satan throws at us. Selena was so grateful. She knew that verse was just for her. We offered to bring her a copy of the Book of Mormon later that week and she gladly accepted. A couple days later we stopped by with a nice new Book of Mormon for her with Helaman 5:12 highlighted. She said she was expecting people over in a few minutes, but asked if we could arrange another time that we could come by and have a proper chat! Sister Vermeulen and I were thrilled! We set up a time to meet and she said she would try to get some reading done before then. I know it's not an accident that we met her, and that we met her now when she is prepared and ready to hear about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't wait to teach her and her family!
I know that the Lord prepares people to hear the gospel and He prepares His servants to be able to share it. His hand is so evident in this work!! I simply cannot deny that this is the Lord's vineyard and that He is laboring alongside us. There is so much value in aligning completely with the Lord and consecrating everything to Him, and then letting Him take care of everything else. He is infinitely wiser and more powerful that we are, and sometimes I think we forget that. I hope we never forget just how much He loves us, too. What better Person to hand everything over to than Him who loves us with an infinite and eternal love?
I love you all so much! I know Heavenly Father does too.
xoxox Sister Larsen
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
This week I think I learned a bit about what it may have been like to be a prophet in Bible times who was ridiculed and rejected (though I haven't been stoned or thrown into prison, so that's a plus). It seemed like everyone we talked to just wanted to tell us how wrong we were about everything, whether it was our belief that Jesus is the Christ or the fact that we observe Sunday as the Sabbath. But whatever people threw at us, it was a neat opportunity to defend my faith in Christ.
I learned a lot from other people about:
- how the Sabbath day was originally Saturday but was changed to Sunday. True, but less important that the observance of the Sabbath itself.
- how there are six universes all stacked inside each other, each one unimaginably larger than the next. Also how vast, poetic, intimidating doctrine doesn't always indicate truth.
- how the scriptures can prove a point, but only when used in a spirit of love.
- how testifying of the Father and the Son and their infinite love for us is infinitely more powerful than contending and quibbling over poins of doctrine.
The moments I felt the Spirit the strongest this week was when we were able to testify of truth with the love of Christ. We taught a man named Mohammed who is Muslim by birth and also, after much research into other religions, Muslim by choice. We sat on the floor of his living room and he asked us questions about our belief in God and why we need Jesus Christ to be our Savior. We were able to teach simply of the necessity of a Redeemer, and the great love of God that led Him to sacrifice His Only Begotten Son for the welfare of all of His children. We taught of the condescension of God, and how the Savior descended below them all so that He could lift us up with Him. We testified how He knows and understands us because He has actually been where we have been. He experienced mortality so He could save us from it. While we testified, Mohammed listened. He didn't argue, he didn't try to counter with points from his docrtine, but he listened with a humble heart. The Spirit of contention was completely absent, so the Spirit of Christ could be completely present.
I learned a lot this week about humility and listening to the Spirit, and the power that a pure testimony of Christ can have. I know that He lives and that we are truly about His work! It is a privilege to serve him, however imperfect and incapable I may be.
xo Sister Larsen
Monday, January 5, 2015
Greetings from Dandenong!! My new area is about half an hour away from the city, close to the Dandenong mountains! My new companion, Sister Vermeulen, is from South Africa and she is the coolest. We're doubling in to an area that some elders left about a transfer and a half ago, and we're starting pretty much from scratch. We've done a lot of tracting, street contacting, and tracking down former investigators to find some people to teach. We've had pretty good success so far! The Lord is definitely lending us a hand.
The ward here is amazing and so supportive! We've called heaps of random people from the ward list and asked if we can come introduce ourselves, and everyone has been so welcoming! There haven't been sisters in this area for ages so the ward is pretty excited to see us, which is definitely encouraging. :)
We've been doing heaps of GQing at the Dandenong Plaza, and one day we ran into some other sisters... nuns, that is. :) They've spent the last 50 years living and serving in Paupa New Guinea. They were so great!
Dandenong is nearly as multicultural as the city, which is thrilling! We've met heaps of Sri Lankans, Cambodians, Sudanese, and the occasional Malaysian and Vietnamese and Chinese. And they say America is the mixing bowl!
Love you all!!xo Sister Larsen