Thursday, December 24, 2015

Week 2

Feliz Navidad Familia y Amigos!!!!

I miss you all more than I can say, and writing letters and receiving letters and packages is, in a way, the hardest part. Such good reminders of how much I love and miss you all, so it's a sweet kind of pain. Keep sending them!!! ;) 

Life here at the MTC is some kind of strange space/time continuum. I'm not sure how, but the days seem to go on FOREVER and then we arrive here and realize that we've been here for a week. (and a day. Go Misionaros!) The days are so packed full of stuff, there's hardly time to think before it's time to go go go to another lesson or eat as fast as we can so we can prepare to teach another investigator. I'm still loving it! (except the no sleeping in part... that's kinda hard to swallow.)

Over this past week we've each been working with a particular investigator named Leandro. He's from Uruguay and grew up catholic (or so he says... there's still very much debate in our district as to whether or not he's an actor), and is very patient with us with our limited spanish and VERY limited teaching experience. We've learned and grown a lot since the first lesson, though. Ultimately, the most important thing about teaching is being able to help the investigator to feel the holy ghost for themselves. It doesn't matter how badly I screw up my spanish, (a fun story on that to come...) or how much we are able to teach about the gospel. The conversion is not coming from us, the missionaries, it's coming from the Spirit and the Light of Christ. During a lesson this week, though, I really, truly experienced a miraculous blessing of the Gift of Tongues. We were teaching about the Plan of Salvation, and had written out pretty much everything that we wanted to say. As we were going through it, Leandro would ask lots of questions about the points of the plan, when the second coming would be, etc. We were stumbling along as best we could, and flipping through our various books and dictionaries to figure out what to say, and feeling pretty small because of how unprepared we felt, but then. Then we got to the Atonement. Somehow, an online lesson that we had worked on earlier that had contained the vocabulary that we wanted came to my mind, and I just felt like I needed to bear my testimony. In broken spanish, though not so broken as before,  I expressed how grateful I was to have the atonement in my life and shared D&C 122 the last couple of verses. (which is one of my favorites EVER) Hermana Humbert did the same, and as we were talking, Leandro started crying!!! The spirit felt so strong, and predictably I started crying as well. Surprise! It was a really amazing experience, though, and once again solidified in my mind the reason that I'm out here at all. 

Now for the funny story. During the same lesson, we tried to explain that we do baptism by immersion because it's a symbol of death and a new life. I wasn't reading off the paper by that point, which I was feeling pretty good about, (I guess I needed to check my pride. ;)  but as I was explaining that we come up out of the water and "have no more sins", I accidentally said " Pescados" rather than "Pecados". I accidentally told our investigator that when we are baptized, as we come out of the water, we are cleansed from our fishes. No mas pescados. 

I'd actually probably be ok with that. 
* Mom's explanation: "pescados" is the Spanish word for seafood--as opposed to live fish, which is "pez"--and since Katelyn is NOT a fan of seafood, this little sentence makes us laugh.

We all giggled, and I turned pretty red and turned the time over to Hermana Humbert to finish explaining. Humility learned! So I can laugh at it now. ;)

I meet tons of people every day! Every time we're in a room with someone, or pass a group of hermanas in the hallway, or an Elder holds open a door for us, we get to talk to them and meet them. I've meet people from all over the world, speaking tons of languages and going to everywhere you can imagine! Everyone is so friendly and nice and very patient with my spanish. ;) 

We had Elder Nielson of the 70 come on Tuesday and he and his wife spoke to us. She spoke about the Savior constantly saying "I Will" and asked us to look up how many times in the scriptures He says those words, and the promises that follow. It made for some really amazing spiritual personal study! I don't have much time to go into it right now, but you should all go do that as well. :) Elder Nielson talked to us about Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and the difference between following Christ and becoming Converted. He mentioned that even during the night of the Last Supper, Christ basically tells Peter (as he tells him that he will deny him 3 times, something about "after you are converted, convert thy brethren"...I'll have to look it up.) that he does have faith, but he has not yet been CONVERTED, or CHANGED. As proven by the fact the he denies Him, and that after Christ's crucifixion, all the disciples go back to whatever they were doing before Christ came. That really struck me hard. 

Also we listened to a talk from Elder Bednar at the MTC in June of 2009, which was about whether or not a thought is coming from the Holy Ghost or if it's just your own brain. His advice?
QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT. As long as we are doing our best to be good and follow the example of Christ, He will guide our steps. He tells an incredible story about President Packer, himself, and a 20 mark note in Germany during his mission, YOU MUST LOOK IT UP. FIND IT. IT IS SUCH AN AMAZING TALK. 
Listen to it, Love it, Apply it. 

Also!!! I got my travel plans for Madrid! (Hermana Malterre does get to come with us after all!!! Hallelujah!!!!!!) We leave the MTC on Monday for Dallas, Texas, we have an hour and a half layover there, then off to HEATHROW (?) AIRPORT IN ENGLAND!!!! Where we have a 3 hour layover, which nobody is complaining about, ;) and then to Madrid. We're all so excited!!! As much as we like it here in the MTC, it does start to feel like Gospel Prison after a while. ;) A good prison. A happy prison. But a prison nonetheless. 

The elders are hilarious, we got closer over the last week.  Elder Keen, the british one, is hilarious. And elder Huff, Elder Cutrer, Elder Thompson and I are able to tease each other fairly easily. They all have really amazing testimonies, and they're going to be great missionaries. We're planning a mission reunion when we all get back, and I'm going to spend that six month difference practicing so that I can cream them in Paintball. ;) 

I love you guys so much. I'm so happy that I'm here, doing my small part in helping to move the Gospel forward throughout the world! Yo se la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos Dias es verdadera. Yo amor mi Savior. 

-Hermana Larson

Sunday, December 20, 2015

President and Sister Burgess, Hermana Larson, Hermana Humbert, Hermana Melterre, Hermana Lofgran

Hermana Humbert and Hermana Larson with Shauna Thompson (a mentor from Hermana Larson's high school drama department)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 1

Hola familia!

I guess that technically speaking this is only week 1/2, but I already feel like I've been here for a month! And not even in a bad way. ;) Every day we get up at 6:30, (ouch), get ready, and are out the door by 7:10. We go to breakfast, which is nuts because there is a MAJOR buttload of sleepy, hungry Missionarios here, eat quickly, and head off to Spanish class. It's a tough, but efficient method of teaching here- total immersion. We walked into class on day 1, about 30 minutes after entering the MTC, and stared in awestruck horror as the teacher tried to explain our first lesson completely. in. spanish. We were lost, to say the least. Since then, it's gotten a bit better, and all of us agree that we can understand a lot more than we can speak. At least thanks to intonation, context clues, and the occasional familiar word, we are able to stumble along. We, the students, even wrote down our own group prayer on the board so that if we are ever called to give the opening, closing, or many in-between oracĂ­ones, we can just read that and hopefully be a little more successful than we would otherwise.The only time our teacher, Hermana Ruiz, speaks english is if there's a word that she's pretty sure we don't know.(for me, that's pretty much every word coming out of her mouth, but you know.... praying for the gift of tongues!)

 There are 10 of us total (6 elders, 4 sisters) in our Spain district, and all but one of us are going to Barcelona, leaving for the CCM on the 28th. I think there are probably 20 of us all leaving together, but the rest of the missionaries are going to Malaga or Madrid and are in a different district. Us four sisters are getting along pretty well! I think that we are probably the most multilingual group out here. (maybe. this is the MTC after all, I guess.) Hermana Melterre is from Paris, France. Predictably, she's adorable. ;) She told us that her first name is Fannie, she's about 20 years old, and before coming to the MTC she was a "business woman". See?? Adorable. She's the one of the four of us who isn't going to Barcelona, she's going to Malaga instead. :( Sad Day!! I can already tell we're all going to miss her. Everyone around here immediately loves her and she's very eager to learn both Spanish and English. Hermana Lofgren is from Orem and she's just about ready to graduate from UVU majoring in illustration. Again, very adorable. ;) She, like me, loves Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, which promises some very deep and lengthy discussions to come in the near future. I haven't been able to see any of her artwork yet, but I'll keep you posted. My companion, Hermana Humbert, is from Frankfurt, Germany and is very quiet but very smart. She's 25 I think, and is about a foot and a half taller than me and about the width of a twig. (And, in case you didn't catch the pattern already, She's extremely adorable!;) Her English is coming a little bit slower, so it makes things more difficult for her in workshops or meetings where the leaders speak rapid-fire 'Murcan English. But she asks questions if she gets too confused, so I think she's doing OK. I got put as the Senior Companion for the duration of our stay in the Provo MTC, which is crazy to me because it sure seems like Hermana Humbert knows a lot better what she's doing. She's so solid! There's a quiet, peaceful spirit about her that I admire a lot. She has one older sister who served a mission in Washington DC, and her mom converted to the church when she was about 26 years old. I also have learned that her grandparents are hardcore Catholic, she had a rabbit named Hoppel when she was about 8 years old, and she's studying to become a social worker when she gets back to Germany. 

The elders are....funny. :) We have one from London, England (who is well known throughout the MTC already and who is very aware of the effect his accent has on all Americans.) and one from North Pole, Alaska, (Too young to be Santa and too tall to be an elf, so I'm not sure what he does there. Maybe he's the I.T. guy. ) and the rest are from all over good ol' Utah. They're all pretty funny, and we've decided to all get matching, cheesy MTC T-shirts that are covered in flags and say something like "Spain Barcelona mission, 2k15".  Ah, Mis Hermanos....

We had a really cool workshop yesterday, (or was it the day before...?) where we went to different rooms and spoke with investigators as though the 40+ of us were companions. There was much debate about whether or not they were really investigators, but regardless, there were many spiritual and informative lessons to be learned. The first investigator was named Jose and he spoke about how he wasn't really interested in religion. After a few fairly confusing and unsure attempts from a couple people to ask him questions and leave him with a message, he, very powerfully, asked us how there could be a God in a world where so much evil and pain and sadness happens. He told us about how hard his mother had worked to raise him, and how much she sacrificed for him, and how much she had meant to him, but  had gotten very very sick the year before. He said he had prayed and prayed and prayed that she would recover but she ended up passing away, which is why he didn't believe in God anymore. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when he was through speaking, but in the very corner of the room an elder raised his hand and just bore a sweet, simple testimony about a similar experience that he had with his own mother. He said that she had gotten cancer when he was 12 years old and that, even though he knew that the loss was painful, he truly believed in the possibility of eternal families and that he knew that Jose's mother would be waiting for him with open arms at the end of his life. That's when Jose started crying, ha. He said that any church that could promise such things might be worth his time. 
Later, we spoke with Jose's wife who expressed her confusion as to why any of us would come, and whether or not this was really our choice or if we were pressured into it. We didn't do so well answering her, but as she was asking that of a specific elder, she said something I don't think I can ever forget. She said "This is communication. I'm asking a genuine question, so you need to give me a genuine answer." 

I love you all and misss you so much,  but I know that I am supposed to be here! 

-Hermana Larson

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hey family!
I'm not breaking the rules, we get 5 minutes to email you guys really quick!
I'm safe, I'm well and I LOVE it here!!!! 
My P day is on Friday, so I'll get to give you more detail then. 
I'm so happy to be here, I really can already tell I'm going to love it!!!!

Hey Em, guess what? My companion is from Frankfurt, Germany! You'd be much more useful here than I am, haha. It's a bit of a struggle to communicate until we learn Spanish but we get by. Lucky for me she knows a bit of English. 

I miss you all already! Talk to you on Friday!

-Hermana Larson

Day 1

This is the day we've been anticipating for almost five months, since Katelyn received her call!  We dropped Hermana Larson off at the Provo Missionary Training Center at 1:00 p.m.  We've all had some weepy moments, but overall, we are so happy and excited for this 18-month assignment.  Even our Elf on the Shelf, "Bon Bon von Jingle III", was missionary-minded today!

Driving to Provo