Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hola Familia!

Ok this week has been really great and super fun and just a really
fantastic week in the field of the Lord! Let me tell you a little
about some of our investigators.

We're teaching this family that's part Peruvian and part Ecuadorian,
And they're super cute! They have 3 little boys, which reminds me of
Scott and Kaelyn's family. ;) They're really adorable. They live in
the attic of their building, so every time we pass by and ring the
timbre, they pop their heads over their balcony and wave to us before
letting us in. The father of the family is the cook, so when we visit
he always has something to feed us, even though we insist we don't
need it; that we'll come visit them with or without food. ;) But it's
always really really good! I get all the best parts of serving in
South America AND Europe! Speaking of which, it's been really really
really hard this week within our Ward and with many of the people who
live here, because of the earthquake in Ecuador. It's been so horrible
for these people, especially because there really isn't much that they
can do to help their family and friends back in their countries at
this moment. It was just super interesting to hear so much about
refugees in General Conference, because, while most people here in
here aren't refugees in the normal sense, a lot of people who live
here  are here because they need a new or safer or different place to
be. We never know how good we have it until we are (kind of) out of
it, you know? It just makes me so grateful for the presence of the
gospel in my life, and the knowledge of the plan of salvation again. I
think I probably talked about it before, but it's still very true.

We're also teaching an investigator from Pakistan! Did I already tell
you about him? He contacted US in the street asking for books about
Christ. And now we're teaching him! It's a bit difficult, because he
doesn't speak much English or Spanish and we don't read Urdu very
well, AND he doesn't have much of a knowledge about Christ or
Christianity, so we're starting from the very very beginning. It's
something that we've never really done or talked about before, so it's
always an adventure when we meet with him, but he's super great and
eager to learn!

We just met a new investigator family last night, and they're from
Colombia. We're so excited to continue meeting with them and getting
to know them a little better, but from what we can tell, they are
AMAZING! It's so hard these days in Spain, because it's very clear
about how the Family is under attack. There are very few families that
are completely together, and it makes things very difficult for
parents and children alike. It's so sad to see the work of the
adversary in trying to hurt the family! But this family provided us
with some great hope last night. We visited them and everyone was
present and attentive and very loving. We could feel of their love for
one another and for their unification as a family, and Hermana Birch
and I nearly jumped for joy! Isn't it a privilege to get to share the
message of Eternal families with people who haven't ever heard or even
hoped for such a concept? I'm so happy to get to spend some time here
in Espana doing that.

OH! I almost forgot to mention - I'm STAYING HERE IN BADALONA!!!!
Transfer calls came, and it turns out that the only change in our
district is that of our District leader. He's finished with his
mission and is heading home, which is really sad because we all admire
him a lot, but now we have Elder Jones (not the one from American
Fork) as our new District Leader. Everyone's really glad that we get
to stay (mostly) together, because really this is a great district and
a FANTASTIC area. I love serving here in Catalunya!
Anyway, that's it for this week! I know my Savior lives. I know that
the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and the promise that we have in
Moroni 10 is meant for ALL people, member or non-member, male or
female, black or white, bond or free. ;) I love you all and I miss you
and I'll talk to you next week!

Love,

Hermana Larson

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Holaaaaaaa Familia!

Buenos Tardes y Lunes Feliz! (That last bit isn't really Spanish.... I
just wanted to wish y'all a happy Monday.)  I can't believe I've been out for 4 whole
months already! I miss you all so much, but every day I'm loving being
out here more and more. It's just like dad said, it's funny how you
can have some of the hardest days/moments of your life, but still be
generally so happy! This week passed like a blur yet again, and was
just FULL of fun visits and people.
Monday we went to Ikea, which I can't remember if I've talked about or
not already..... Anyway, it was magical. It was more of a low-key day,
as we just cleaned piso and shopped and relaxed for a bit, then headed
over, got ourselves an ice cream cone, and browsed the BIGGEST STORE
IVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. It was like going to a museum... For free!
Boom! And reading things in Catalan/Swedish was one of the most
confusing experiences of my life. So that was fun! Then on Tuesday we
had to head to the office to get my residency done, and guess what?
I'M FINALLY AND TOTALLY LEGAL NOW! Boom!!!! I've got my shiny new
residency and I can finally cut down on visits to various government
buildings. I'm done! (For now) Wednesday we did weekly planning, which
is always one of my favorite things, except that I was sick as a dog.
It was quite a.... Different type of experience than usual, simply
because my head felt like it was about to explode. Over the week it
got a bit worse, including the complete loss of my voice from
Thursday-Sunday. But hoorah, Miraculous Monday, I'm cured! Everyone
tends to get sick in their training, or so I'm told, a couple of
times, and my pattern has been that I get a cold right around
Transfers. Hope that one doesn't continue, or I've got quite a few
more colds coming my way over the next 14 months.... ;) (Transfer
calls are this coming Saturday... As of right now, I have no idea
what's going to happen. Guess next Preparation day will be an
adventure! It's going to be on Tuesday, by the way, before I forget.)
Sunday was the busiest day so far of my entire mission, because we had
visits from dawn to dusk one right after another all day! We ended up
SPRINTING full on from visit to visit, and from our last visit to piso
at the end of the day. Now y'all know I'm not much of a runner, but it
was one of my favorite days of my mission so far. And we witnessed a
huge miracle! The Ecuadorian/Peruvian family that we've been visiting
agreed to come to church with us for next Sunday, and THEN we found
out that the father of this family is actually the brother of one of
our Menos Activos and her family! And then we ran into HER MOTHER in
the street in another part of our area right after that visit! AND
THEN we met her SISTER in ANOTHER part of our area right after that!
It's a sign. :) MIRACLESSSSSSS!!!!!! Today we headed up to Montjuic,
which is the same place that we went on my first day here in
Barcelona! It was kind of funny, going up there again, and thinking
about how much has changed and even how much I have changed in the
last 11 weeks. Crazy! Including that I have met people from almost
FIFTY different countries. Ready for the list? Here we go!
Spain
America
Pakistan
India
Bangladesh
Syria
Turkey
Israel
Russia
Ukraine
Romania
Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Canada
Ghana
Nigeria
Congo
Morocco
England
France
Gambia
Honduras
Colombia
Equador
Peru
Senegal
Tahiti
Bolivia
Italy
Austria
Australia
New Zealand
Mexico
Chile
Ivory Coast
Portugal
Brazil
China
Cuba
Jamaica
Egypt
Guatemala
Cambodia
Dominican Republic
Haiti
Lebanon
Guinea Equitorial
Iran.
Impressive, huh? I keep saying it's like I'm getting to serve in all
the world at once! I love this mission and I love Badalona SO MUCH!
All the ghetto-ness and all. I love getting to be a part of this work
and getting to be a missionary. I love you all! Have a good week!
Love,

Hermana Larson





Monday, April 11, 2016

Buenas Tardes Familia!

(My Spanish is progressing, huh? We're moving up from just "Hola". ;)
This week was a Roller coaster of emotions and blessings and trials
and miracles. To be quite honest I don't really know where to start! I
guess we'll go from the bottom and work our way up. To start off, we
had a very interesting visit this week with one of our newer
investigators, a young adult from Romania. It was interesting
primarily because we had to speak in English with him rather than
Spanish, in which we (Hermana Birch and I) were a bit out of practice.
(At least in Gospel-related terminology) And while at first the visit
seemed promising, as this young man was very well acquainted with the
bible and was looking for a church to join and was excited to learn
more, our testimonies and the message of the restoration could not
resound with him because he was so thoroughly convinced that we
couldn't be the true church, because we practice the Sabbath on
Sunday. And because of this, he tried to convince us that we were
being lied to, that really our church was "the den of wolves in
sheep's clothing." Well, that got some fire in us! We simply testified
once more of what we knew to be true, the validity of this gospel and
the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and the authority and power of
the Prophets, and explained that we weren't going to be able to visit
him anymore but that we would love to see him in passing. He said he
couldn't wait until the judgement day when he would get to see our
faces....that was pretty awkward. We were really disappointed as we
walked out of there, and all week we have been pondering about that
experience. I still haven't really arrived at any certain conclusion
other than that I know that this gospel is true. I know that the Book
of Mormon is the word of God and that Christ really did visit the
people in the Americas, and no amount of "logic" or bible-bashing is
going to change that. AFTER THAT we had a few really good visits! One
was with this Peruvian/Equadorian family that we found because we
contacted the Abuelo in the street. When we went to go visit him, we
ended up meeting his son who is absolutely eager to learn about the
gospel! It turns out that he has met with Missionaries before and they
had lost track of him when he had moved to Badalona but he is still so
excited to learn! We've had a couple of short little lessons with him
in the Puerta, but this time we were finally able to go inside because
his wife was there and we ended up having a lesson with the whole
family, including the Abuelo that we had found originally. A couple of
them were skeptical at first, but we shared with them the Attributes
of Christ video which led into a discussion about prophets and
authority. Hermana Birch and I agree with you, mom, that Authority
really is one of the biggest things that sets us apart from anyone
else in the world. We scheduled another appointment with them and they
asked us for pamphlets and things they could read in between that
time! Bam! Milagros. As we were walking to our next cita from there,
we were stopped by a tall Pakistani man who asked us if we had any
reading material about Christ. HA BOY HOWDY DID YOU STOP THE RIGHT
MISSIONARIES OR WHAT. We gave him a pamphlet and one of our brand
spankin' new capilla cards (did I already show you a picture of
those?) and he said that he was searching for a church and he wants to
learn more about Christianity. He has lived in Spain for about 15
years now, but he speaks a bit more English than he does Spanish so
we'll probably be talking to him in a solid Spanglish when we meet
with him this week. He also said something that struck me, because he
commented that he has seen us a couple of times in the street and that
we should be "stopping people and telling them where you're from and
what you are doing here! People want to know!" That took us a second
to swallow, as, well, that's what we do on a daily basis! But I
started realizing that I tend to avoid what we call "awkward
situations", where I don't tend to contact people who are clearly of a
different religion or people who I think probably won't accept us. I
needed a little kick for that! True, we have had a couple pretty
difficult interactions with people, but I realized that I really
shouldn't have been judging for myself who I thought would accept the
gospel and who wouldn't. I don't know anything! So I'm going to try
and be better at contacting EVERYONE from now on! It's a bit like a
game of hide and seek, I think. We go up to people and the gist of it
is we say "Hi! We're missionaries. Are you the one I'm looking for?"
And they say "no" or "not right now" and then you find the few that
say "yeah! I think I am!" And then BOOM! Magic. Spirit. Faith.
Repentance. Baptism. Holy Ghost. Perseverance to the end. Eternal Pen
Pals. (I'm pretty sure that's how it goes, anyway. I'll let you know
when I get to that point.)

Things you should know about Spain:
-If you've ever wondered what riding on an autobus is like in
Badalona, it is basically EXACTLY like riding on the Spider-Man ride
in Florida Universal Studios or the Indiana jones ride in Disney land.
These gigantic busses, they just come HAULING down these little one
lane roads lined on BOTH sides with cars and trees and people who
cross whenever and wherever they need to. It really is a sight to
behold and an experience to be had.
-They love brownies and they don't know how to make them. Bake a batch
for them and you're instantly their best friend.
-Jamon. They LOVE Jamon. It's everywhere. They have Jamon restaurants
in the mall, Jamon flavored Everything, we even found Jamon scented
perfume. Though I'm (97%) sure it's a joke.
-All the kids these days are wearing sweat suits. Nike, preferably, in
gray or crazy patterns of colors. You're not a kid in Spain if you
don't wear one of them at least 4/7 days of the week. And the other 3
days you're wearing denim on denim. It's like we're back in the 90's!
-Also in Fashion right now... Pasty skin and dark hair! Boom. Guess
you could say I fit in here.
-Also people are VERY SHORT. I am on the Taller side here. Do you
understand what that means? Most people are 5'2 and UNDER. I love it.
-Tuna pizza. Did I already mention that? Tuna. Pizza. Mom, I have
eaten more tuna in these last 4 months than I think I've eaten before
in my life combined.
-They have Holidays about every 2 weeks, including Sant Jordy this
month, where all the girls give the boys books and all the boys give
the girls a flower. We're going to set up a stand and SPREAD THE
GOSPEL WITH SOME FREE BOOKS!

Anyway, that's the update for this week! I love you all and I miss you
all and I know this gospel is true! I love this work and these people
and my Savior! Have a good week and I'll talk to you later!
Te amo,
-Hermana Larson


Hermanas Birch, Larsen, Larson, and Francisco

We rode bikes around Arc de Triumph!  So fun!

Does this look like Cali to you?

Monday, April 4, 2016

MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR RIGHT UP THERE WITH CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Hola familia y amigos!
This week has felt like it's been forever! Somehow while you're out in
the mission, normally the days feel like eternities and the weeks feel
like seconds, but this week was full of so many things it seemed to
stretch out forever! Last preparation day we spent the day in the
Sagrada Familia, which was really cool to go see (and get in for free
because we're part of a religious group) but then there were all these
signs that said that it was a "temple". It made me miss the temple so
much! While the Sagrada is a beautiful building, there is just nothing
in the world to match the peace that you find in the true House of the
Lord, is there? On Tuesday we had Zone Enfoque which is always a great
experience, but this time we each took a turn looking into a mirror
and shouting, "I Fear No Man!" (This is a reference to Ricciardi's
letter, which I'll talk about later) Even President Dayton got in on
the action, because he was there with us. We duo-taught English class
on Wednesday with the other Hermanas in our District, which was fun
because we decided to teach and practice Directions by playing a
blind-folded game. That led to quite a few laughing fits as we helped
our poor little class learn to say "left" "right" and "ESTOP" as their
blindfolded friends tripped over chairs and ran into walls. They
learned very quickly that day. ;) Thursday was weekly planning, which
is one of my favorite times of the week because we get to evaluate and
set goals and it's such a good time to improve and make plans! Then we
had an intercambio that afternoon, and I got to be with Hermana
Francisco, the Hermana who just arrived here in the mission field
about 3 weeks ago. That was really fun because she is such a hard
worker and she already knows the ropes so well, but it was also
difficult because of the two of us, I have the most experience with
Spanish. And I DON'T have much experience with Spanish! We, together
with the influence of the Spirit, I'm sure, managed to herd 7 of their
Recent Converts/ Less-Actives/Future Missionaries to the Mission Home
for Family Home Evening with the Daytons! During our trip I earned the
nickname of "Mamacita" and they were my "Polletos" (Chicks) because I
kept counting them to make sure we were all still together. The family
home evening was fantastic, the people were so fun, and it ended up
being a fantastic experience! We continued intercambios through the
next day and Hermana Francisco and I managed to get our first new
together! It's strange to think that I'll be finished with my training
in just a few weeks and that's just going to be what life is like!
Hopefully I'll still have a companion who can speak Spanish well. ;)
Then on Saturday we had GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!! I LOVE GENERAL
CONFERENCE IT IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR RIGHT UP THERE WITH
CHRISTMAS!!!!! I love it I love it. With a bit of configuration we
managed to set up a room with conference in English for all of us
missionaries and a few of the English speaking African members of the
Ward. I loved all of the talks for different reasons, but can we just
talk about how beautiful the choir's rendition of Come Thou Fount
was?? We all got chills and might have shed a few tears during that
song. It's so interesting listening to conference as a missionary, the
words that come bring such a spirit of truth and happiness and
excitement to the room! We all hear things that we can use to help our
investigators, things that we need to apply in order to feel the
spirit in more abundance, and things that will help our wards grow in
unity and strength! And something else that I discovered this week is
something that has probably gone around through all missionaries for
always - it's called Ricciardi's Letter. Have you ever heard it? It
has absolutely changed my life, my attitude about missionary work,
investigators, companions, and this work in general! I love it so
much. I'll attach it to the email here, so you can all read it,
because it is AMAZING! Especially about Companions, because it's such
a unique and amazing perspective! I love it!!! Read it. Ok. I love you
all, I love this work, I love my Savior, I love the Prophet, I love
being a missionary!
Love,

-Hermana Larson

I Fear No Man 
Ricciardi had a saying that has stayed with me, and will stay with me throughout my life. He would say to me, “I fear no man!” He spent his whole mission proving that slogan. Every day like clockwork 10 minutes before departure to proselyte, he would look in the bathroom mirror, point to it, and say “I fear no man”. Then he would do it again with a different posture. I personally thought he was trying to make me laugh by doing it. You know… some inspirational thing for the new missionary. I soon learned he actually meant it. He was not kidding. 
His door approaches were not only unique, but astounding. He would knock on a door, and when the door was answered he would introduce us as “missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. As he would be giving his introduction he would quickly look into the house to try and find something somewhere that would indicate some commonality that he could address in order to build relationships of trust. 
One time, approximately the third or fourth day we had been together, a gentleman answered the door, looking really uptight about the fact that we were disturbing his quiet Saturday afternoon. During the opening dialogue Ricciardi glanced in the door and saw a beautiful painting on the wall. Suddenly, mid introduction, Ricciardi screamed out “oh what a beautiful painting!” pushed the door open (nearly sending the man through the wall) and walked right into the house. I stood on the doorstep in absolute horror, a witness to this unbelievable demonstration of bad manners. Ricciardi walked right into the living room, met the wife and kids, and admiring the television set they were transfixed by, commented “what a beautiful television, may we turn it off?” He hit the off switch. I was still on the porch, quite honestly waiting for the police to be called, or for him to get physically thrown out of the house. To my shock I heard his thick Italian accent call down the hall way “Oh Elder Humphrey, will you join us?” I could not believe it. 45 minutes later we concluded the first discussion with a prayer. I confronted him later that night about the fiasco I had witnessed earlier in the day, he said “Elder, I fear no man, and that includes you. I will do the Lord’s work with or without you. I prefer with, but that is up to you”. 

Ricciardi expounded further, and I want you to remember this because it is absolutely true. Ricciardi told me the following: “Elder Humphrey, what is bold today, will not be bold tomorrow”. He meant that what was uncomfortable for me to declare today, over time will become second nature, and not be seen as “rude”, but rather would be seen by others as “conviction”. He further stated that The Lord tells us in Alma 38:12 to be bold, but not overbearing. Ricciardi defined overbearance as “boldness without love”. When people know and feel your love, you can never be too bold!” he would say. I would not have admitted it at the time because I was still too young and frankly immature to know, but it did not take me long to learn that his words that night were absolutely true.