Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Querida Familia. 

Pues, it's been fun. Thanks for everything. Talk to you on the flip side. 

Hermana Larson. 
­č笭čçŞ¡El Reino De Dios o Nada! 

Haha just kidding, I'm just having a hard time coming up with what to say to adequately express what's going on in my life right now. This last week has been crazy. As usual. :) We've been between intercambios, meetings, traveling, Zone Conference, Interviews, Concelio in Barcelona, and right now we're in Bilbao to do a mini intercambio/have preparation day/prepare for District Meeting tomorrow. Long story short, time is going crazy fast right now, and 
I never ever EVER imagined that I would make it to this point. Ever. Honestly I think I figured that I would just be here, doing this mission thing for the rest of my natural life. I guess that this is just the beginning though, my life as a missionary is nowhere near ending. :) something that we do as a mission at the end of our term as a "full time missionary" is to share "Lo que El Se├▒or me ha ense├▒ado" or "What the Lord has taught me". I thought maybe I'll put some of my notes on here. 


-A couple words at least in: Spanish, Catal├ín, Valenciano, Euskara, Romanian, Russian, German, Italian, Portuguese, Twi, Benin, Edu, Quechua, Greek, Chinese, and Arabic. 
-How to eat Fufu, Pique Machu, Arroz con Leche, Tortilla de Patata, Morcilla, Empanadas and Arrepas, Kebab, and Rice and Fried eggs and Hot dogs. 
-How to take lice out of someone's hair
-How to live in the Ghetto
-How to live in the (crazy expensive) north of Spain 
-How to sleep.... basically anywhere 
-How to get into buildings to knock doors
-The Lord truly works by small and simple means
-God is mindful of His Children (I found that that even applies to me, personally) 
-The temple truly is the house of the Lord
-There's a difference between believing and having faith
-Happiness is the purpose of life, but there's a big difference between being happy and simply having fun. 
-AGENCY IS REAL AND IMPORTANT. And frustrating. But important. 
-The day of rest is SO IMPORTANT to the rest of the week, more than anything for the Sacrament. 
-when I submit my will to God, I ALWAYS end up happier. 
-The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God. 
-We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious spiritual victories. 
-The wisdom of God may appear as foolishness to men. But the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.
-Gods work and Glory is not simply to run an effective organization, its to bring to pass the immortality and  eternal life of man. 
-Missionary work is not easy because Salvation is not a cheap experience
-This gospel is true. I know it is, because it works. It absolutely has wrought a mighty change in me, and in those around me, and in HUNDREDS of people whom I've met here. 
-This is the real restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 
-My Heavenly Father is real, he knows me, he loves me, and he is always aware of and watching out for his children. 
-My Savior lives. His Atonement is infinite and indescribably wonderful and beyond our current understanding. He is full of mercy and love and compassion, he understands each of us perfectly and completely, and He will never leave us comfortless. The testimony of Alma 7:11-13 is truth. 
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.  Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." 
-The Holy Ghost is real and powerful and only testifies of truth. 
-There is no sacrifice that I could make that would even get me close to paying off part of the debt I owe to my Father. And every time I give something to the lord, he blesses me beyond what I have room enough to receive. President Monson has quoted, "The best decision I ever made was to give up something I loved to the God I love even more. He has never forgotten me for it."

As President Nelson has said, 
Every missionary can have at least one convert on the mission- his or herself. Done the right way it will not just be a baptism, not just a church attender or a name to be remembered but a rock solid, true blue, through and through disciple who will be an exemplary member long after the mission is over. 

I hope to be that, 
Love you all. 
Hermana Larson

Monday, May 29, 2017

It's Not Over Yet!

Hooooola todos, 
These past few weeks have been flying by and it's totally not funny. This week we spent all over the place, from San Sebasti├ín to Vitoria to Bilbao and back again, and we're having an absolute blast! We spent the beginning of the week in a pueblo of San Sebasti├ín, then went on Splits that night with the hermanas. The next morning we all woke up super early and ran to see the sunrise and eat cereal, as is our tradition, but, of course, being in the north you can never predict the weather, and the sun never came up thanks to the sudden blanket of clouds. (Fun side note, this week we've been alternating between rain storms and 90 degree weather with 3000% humidity, so that's been fun). Hermana Hofstetter and I have been running all over our area looking for new people to teach, and we've been blessed with a lot of great new investigators! Right now in particular, we've been working with the father of a cute family that lives in one of our pueblos. He comes to church every week and the ward has really taken that family in and has worked with them really well, he just has some doubts that he is working through. The whole family is super cute though, and they're making amazing progress! Alassana... suddenly got a job, which is great, but now he can't really meet with us, which is not super great. But It's not over yet! 
Ok, I'm totally the worst but I'm out of time again. I know this church is true, I know that the Book of Mormon is a real testament of Jesus Christ, and I know that my Savior lives! 
Love you all! 

Hermana Larson 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hola familia! 
This week I have to write really quick, cause we have to leave soon, but it's been fantastic! We are currently in a pueblo by San Sebasti├ín called Zarouts (not sure how to spell that...) with the missionaries up here. We went on a hike and made curry today! Suuuper fun! 
Jaime's doing SUPER WELL we've seen an incredible miracle with him because he has NOT SMOKED ONCE!!! He's SUPER excited about everything, family history and activities and EVERYTHING, and I've never seen him so happy. He's amazing! He got the priesthood this Sunday and he's doing great. 
We also had a super fun activity this week... a TALENT SHOW!!! Let me tell you, there's not much more in this world that's more fun than a talent show/dance in a ward full of South/Central Americans. :)  
I'm so sorry, we already have to go, but I loooove you!!! I hope you have a fantastic week and I promise it'll be a better email next week! 
Love you! 
Hermana Larson 

­č笭čçŞ¡El Reino De Dios o Nada! 

Sisters...sisters... there were never such devoted sisters

My beautiful little Santander

When you find a perfect(ish) ice cream on your intercambio

Monday, May 15, 2017

No Effort is Wasted

Hola familia! 

Just a quick one today, not much time, but I just wanted to say that.....


Jolin, I am SO happy, my heart feels like it's going to bust! He's doing so great, his Baptism went swimmingly, (no pun intended), and he's a fantastic recent convert. :) He has been investigating the church for 20 YEARS!After 20 years he finally made the decision to follow what he knew to be right and to take the leap of faith that we've been waiting for. Would you believe the good that has happened because a couple of missionaries gave out a Book of Mormon to a joven Espa├▒ol? I really truly have a testimony that no effort is wasted here. Even though it's taken him a couple of decades to cultivate the seed that was planted on that day, Jaime's life has been changed ETERNALLY because of those brave elders! I will never forget that incredible day. As we were singing the special musical number, he just leaned back and closed his eyes and the Spirit completely flooded the room, and it was so hard to hold back tears! He is SO excited to finally have the blessings that come with Baptism, and he's already sharing them with others; He has brought two of his friends to meet with us! Doing great there. 

We also had an intercambio this week with the Hermanas of San Sebasti├ín so I got to go up there again! I LOOOOOVE San Sebasti├ín, it's absolutely beautiful. This time I was with the incredible Hermana Brudnicki who I've been wanting to work with since she got here, so it was an incredible day. Too short, because I had to get back for Jaime's interview, but super good. On that same day, we had a piso check/reparations, which means that our apartment got inspected and "looked over with a white glove". Hahaha we did alright, but I'm kinda frustrated with all the places where dust can hide! All good though. 

Today all the missionaries from San Sebasti├ín came here to Santander to have Preparation Day together, which has been SUPER fun, but it's made the time go way too fast, so I've gotta go, but I love you all! I loved getting to talk to you all yesterday! Have a fantastic week and we'll talk soon! 

Hermana Larson 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

love love love love LOVE

Pueeeeeeeeees Nada! Life is a crazy amazing whirlwind as always, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! Highlights. 
Once upon a time, I got a new companion!! Hermana Hofstetter is from the same group that my baby Hermana Dinkelman is from, and she is..... pretty much my twin. We look more alike than Emily, Lauren, Hannah or Olivia and I do and we are VERY similar in a frightening amount of ways. I would call her my "mini-me", but the problem is that she stands about 8 inches taller than I do. And her name is a little more complex to pronounce than mine is. Every member of our ward has given her a different nickname, including "Hermana Haagen-daz", "Hermana H", and "Hermana F├│sforo". Pobrecita. :) Hahahaha we're having a BLAST up here in the North!!! Life couldn't get better. :) 
This week has been NUTS though, I said goodbye to Hermana Dinkelman on Tuesday of last week, spent the day in a strange series of trios (which was also super fun) around Bilbao, and then Hermana Hofstetter came in that night. We spent the night in Bilbao with the other hermanas, then early the next morning we took the bus trip back to Santander. After spending a day running from place to place presenting her to the members, investigators, and other friends of Santander, we hit the sack and then woke up early to head back to Bilbao to have District meeting. (Northern life! We're very familiar with our Autob├║s system up here.) We headed back that night and helped Carolina and Cesar move to a new apartment closer to the church. (Side note. I LOVE Carolina and Cesar. Have I ever explained about them? They got baptized about two years ago and have been super faithful since then. they LOVE the missionaries and are working on getting sealed in the temple! They give everyone nicknames, I'm affectionately known as "Basura Blanca" or "La Fea". :) Saturday we had Sports and then a fantastic lesson with...... drum roll please.... JAIME!!!!! Jaime, who I taught about six months ago with Hermana Nelson, has returned!!! For those of you who don't remember, we were teaching Jaime, who was super prepared and on fire except for one thing.... he smokes quite a bit. He disappeared for a little while, but then a couple weeks ago we got a text from him and he asked if he could meet with us! We've been meeting since then, and he's getting ready to be baptized this Saturday!!!! Fingers crossed that everything goes well, he's SUPER prepared and he's going to finally make the plunge! :) Sunday was fantastic, after a fabulous day at church, we headed right over to the bus station to take a bus to Bilbao, so that Hermana Hofstetter could catch ANOTHER bus to Vitoria (that trip is about 2 and a half hours in total) and I could meet with Hermana Dupre to head to the Airport to head to Barcelona! We had concelio this week!!! (The meeting we have once a month with all the Zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders in Barcelona). The flight is pretty short, but it left at 9:50 and was DELAYED so we didn't end up getting in to Barce until about 12:30 at night. (The flight was pretty fun though, we played a Spanish Vocabulary game all together and I realized that I really need to study a bit more. You'd think that after almost a year and a half of speaking Spanish daily that I would know the word for "hanger" and "collar bone". Always room to improve!) We walk into the airport ready to make a trip on the metro, when we see the ayudantes waiting with all the other people, and, instead of a sign with "missionaries" or something on it, they have their picture of the second coming of Christ on their iPad, held up high as they can reach, for all to see. :) We all got a good giggle out of that. Since we got in so late, we got to stay with the Hermanas in Barcelona instead of the mission home, so I got to see Hermana Dinkelman again! She loves Barcelona already and is doing great. :) The next day we had concelio from 9:30 to 5, which was INCREDIBLE and I loved it SO MUCH, and then we headed back to Bilbao that night. Then this morning, we woke up far too early, and Hermana Hofstetter and i made our way back to good ol' Santander! We have a piso check on Thursday (again) so we spent all day trying to get rid of the rust and mold that we have in our bathrooms..... cons of living so close to the ocean in a super humid climate. But now we love it. :)  Let's see... what else..... We're putting on a talent show here on the 20th so that should be fun! And.... I'll have been in Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebasti├ín, and Santander all in the same week by the time I write next week, so there's that. :) I love love love love life here, it's the best thing ever. THE MISSION IS THE GREATEST!!!! 
Here's something I learned from one of our ward members this week; We always talk about how God is just and how He is fair, but very rarely do we focus on how merciful he is. But just look at the instances in every book of canonized scripture! There are absolutely countless instances focusing on His MERCY towards His children. During the life of Christ, he very rarely exercised Justice on anyone, but always extended incredible Mercy. Incredible, huh? One instance being in the account of the last supper in John, where Judas leaves to betray him, and immediately afterwards Christ commands his disciples to love one another as he has loved them. I love my Savior. I love this gospel and for the chance that I have to share this message with these people here in Santander. I love this church. I love the scriptures. I love the commandments. And I love love love love LOVE being a missionary. :) 
love love love love you all!!!! Have a great week! 
Hermana Larson

­č笭čçŞ¡El Reino De Dios o Nada! 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hellooooo Family, 
So so so sorry, not a ton of time today because, ya know, transfers, but quick little update, 

Pizza and Ben&Jerry's for Transfer Night

I GET TO DIE IN SANTANDER!!!!!!!!!!!!! We got the call on Saturday night that Hermana Dinkelman will be going to Barcelona, and I´m going to stay in my beloved Santander until the end of my mission, which I am SO excited about! 

My new companion is Hermana Hoffsetter, who I got to meet when I first became companions with Hermana Dinkelman! (they´re in the same group). I´m SOOO EXCITED for this next transfer, I have a great feeling about it all and I can´t wait to see what miracles are in store! I'm here in Bilbao and I'll get to pick her up today at about 9:00 tonight, so I'll have to introduce her next week. :)

Other fun news, this week we had our Open house for our new chapel, which went SUPER well, and we were able to spend 3 solid afternoons just sitting and waiting for the people to come to us and ask us questions! (kind of a nice little flip-flop of contacting, hahaha) It was super fun, and we got some really great potential investigators out of it, just from people who walked in because they were curious! Sure to see some more great miracles out of that in the next little while. 

So so so sorry, I´ve gotta go already, but I know that this gospel is true, I know that our savior lives and loves us, I know that we are divine children of a loving Heavenly Father, and I know that He lives!!!!!!
Have a fantastic week family, I love you all!!!

Hermana Larson

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ok family, we officially did it. We OFFICIALLY had THE CRAZIEST week ever. Absolutely nuts. 

Monday: All of our Jovenes had the day off because of Semana Santa (Easter week, basically) so we went with a big group of jovenes to go play Capture the Flag at the Magdalena, which is this really great little island-y thing that is actually connected to mainland, so it's not an island, buuut I don't know what that's called, so... there's that. It was SO FUUUN!!!! We ran around hunger games style, which was really fun and kind of more difficult due to the fact that we always have to be in eyesight and hearing range of our companion. Soooo a little more complicated, but we made it work! It was super fun. Afterwards we all headed to Domino's because here, they have this nifty little Buffet thing where you pay 7 euroes per person for endless pizza. After stuffing ourselves to the brim, the elders and us headed over to the paper store of one of our members, pablo, where we wrote and talked and had a good time. THEN immediately afterwards, hermana Dinkelman and I had to run/speed walk about 2 kilometers to the bus station to get tickets to Bilbao for our conference, because we saw online that there were only two seats left, so we ran and did that, had literally just enough time to go back to piso and shove all of our stuff in our bags, and headed back to catch the bus. (We got there just in time) Our elders had just been called and told that, thanks to the Semana Santa holiday, they needed to find a place to buy water bottles for everyone at the conference the next day, because all of the supermarkets in Bilbao were closed. Unfortunately that was a little late, and we were already on our way to Bilbao, so we prayed for a little more help, and as we were walking to our respective pisos in Bilbao, we found just ONE store that was open, and they had enough water bottles for everyone at the conference! Ok, writing it out sounds a little weird, but I'm telling you, it was a huge miracle!!! 

Ok, so that was monday. Tuesday, we had Zone Conference with President and Hermana Dayton, the Ayudantes, and the Zones of Bilbao and Vitoria together. I LOVE getting to learn from all of these incredible people!!! In the morning we got to go to a leadership meeting where we dissected Doctrine and Covenants 121 and talked about each verse individually and the spirit was so strong! I loved it. Every time we're in a conference I feel like I can't write fast enough to keep up with all the things that come to my mind and heart as these inspired men and women are speaking. I think it's especially interesting that sometimes I receive answers to prayers in moments and ways that dont have anything to do with what's being talked about! As that hymn goes, The Lord works in Mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. He plants his feet upon the waves and rides upon the storm. (Kinda unrelated, but I just love that line. :) 

So tuesday afternoon, instead of going back to Santander, I went up to San Sebasti├ín with Hermana Bodden to have an intercambio with her! She's just incredible. She came in the same group as my Hermana Dinkelman and she's the one with the afro, for those of you who have seen pictures. She's super sweet, a fantastic human bean. :) We had a great time teaching and talking and walking the streets of Sanse. The next morning we got up early (shocking, I know) to go RUNNING (even more shocking, I know) and it was actually super enjoyable! (Gasps from the crowd). We had a great morning together, then I headed on the bus to go back home sweet home. :) Three hours on the bus... not super great. But hey, I survived! 

Thursday we were doing service all day, we helped one of our hermanas in the ward carry groceries, we made posters for the Chapel Open House tour which will happen this next week, and taught a couple classes of english, then helped pablo, the member that has a store, clean and wash windows and everything. I LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE LET US HELP THEM!!!! (Fun fact, people here dont accept help from the missionaries very much.) 

THEN THE CRAZY DAY. Yesterday we were in the chapel after our block meetings when all of a sudden my Hermana Dinkelman passes out. PASSES OUT. We caught her and put her in a chair, then on the floor and elevated her feet, but she couldn't open her eyes and wasn't responding much when we talked to her, then suddenly she started shaking a ton with cold, and stopped responding and it was super scary. We called an ambulance and president and she and I rode to the hospital. They took some blood and did some tests but after about 7 hours of waiting, they couldn't find anything wrong and she had returned to normal. We have the most amazing members who drove and stayed with us and prayed and figured out a back up splits schedule that we could use if someone wanted to stay with Hermana Dinkelman so I could run and grab stuff from piso, but we ended up getting out of there by about 2 in the morning. Everything is good now, she's tired but fine, they think it was some kind of heat exhaustion or panic attack, but everything is fine! So... that tops off our crazy week! Also, Alassana almost got baptized on Saturday, but thanks to some problems with his family, he has to wait for a little longer. Hopefully everything will be good by the 20th of May! 
I'm attaching one of my favorite things we got from the conference, where we learned to ALWAYS have a purpose to our studies! I'm sorry, I have to go, but I love you all so much and I KNOW THAT THIS GOSPEL IS TRUE!!! I love being a missionary!!!!!! :) 
PS next week is transfers, so talk to you on Tuesday! 

Hermana Larson