Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Buenos Tardes Familia!

Wow this week has been SO LONG! We got Transfer Calls on Saturday, and
I'm still going to be in Badalona for at least another transfer! This
time I'm NOT with someone who is just about to leave the mission
field. ;) Her name is Hermana Romero, and she's from Madrid so I'll be
practicing my Spanish A LOT over the next few weeks. She's super
sweet, and I can't wait to work with her! She's actually the one who
showed me around and worked with me my first night in the mission
field, so I already know and love her!!!! This is going to be a great
transfer, I can tell.

So this week was a lot of preparation to send off Hermana Birch into
the great wide world. We went and visited with almost all of our
investigators and quite a few members, and EVERYONE WANTED TO GIVE US
FOOD!!!! So we had a couple of reallly really REALLY good eating
visits, and a couple of visits that were more.... Interesting. But
everyone was so kind and so giving and so loving!!!! I'm so glad I get
to stay another transfer with these amazing people here. Ok, so my
favorite visit this week was with our Peruvian/Ecuadorian family, and
they served us a traditional Peruvian dish that I have NO IDEA how to
spell. You pronounce it like, " papa la wan kah yeena", and it's
basically this really yummy sauce that they put on potatoes and
chicken and whatever else. It was SOO GOOD!!!!

 I love Peruvian food, so far it's turned out to be my favorite. Something that wasn't quite
my favorite, as we discovered this week, was a little something they
in Africa call Fufu. It's a huge ball of mashed potato kind of stuff,
though traditionally it's done with yucca, and you take a bit with
your hands and use it like an edible spoon in a stew type thing. A
REALLY REALLY REALLY SPICY stew type thing. My poor non-African
tastebuds didn't handle it very well. But it's a rite of passage here
in the Spain Barcelona mission, so at least I can say I've tried it!

All the people here are so kind and generous, and they always want to
give you all kinds of goodies. Which is not great for those of us who
would like to trim down a bit, but as one gifted writer from this
mission suggested, it's a double blessing - food, and a tad bit more
humility. ;)

Hermana Birch was a great trooper though it all - all the roller
coaster emotions of the final week of the mission. She is a missionary
that kept working right up until the end, and she wasn't going to let
anything stop her! I learned so much from her and I'm so grateful for
her example and for the time I got to spend with her.

Badalona, Barcelona, and Palma Zones
Hermana Larson is front row, 4th from the left

*I think these might be the 3 Hermana Larsons, but I'm not sure.  (Actually, 2 of them are LarsEns!)

We also had a member of the area 70 come this week, which was super
exciting! Elder Dyches and his wife, Sister Dyches came and talked to
us in a big multi-zone mission tour. That was a really great
experience and the spirit was so strong! They had some really great
things to say about being grateful and having meaningful companionship
study and planning sessions, which will definitely help us in our
work. Hermana Romero and I can't wait to get started!

Well, that's the update for this week,  I love you all and I love this
gospel! I know it's true. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word
of God and that His messenger, the Holy Ghost, testifies of the truth
of the book every time we read it.

I love you all!!!!!!

-Hermana Larson

Monday, May 23, 2016

Muy Buenas Tardes a todos!

After a couple more days of sickness recovery, we finally were able to
enter the world and be real missionaries on Wednesday!!!! That was
really fun, even if it was a bit of a rocky start. We haven't had a
whole ton of luck getting to meet with our investigators this week, so
we spent a lot of time on the street, contacting. haha I guess this is
the Lord's way of telling me I need more practice! ;) Luckily for us
it's been AMAZING weather this week! 80's, slightly breezy, sunny and
warm, and pretty humid. Great start for the tourist season, but it's
made walking around a bit of a sweaty task. ;) But it feels so good
not to have to wear a jacket anymore!

Today for preparation day we headed to Parc Guell, which is that place
that comes up when you Google search Barcelona, right after Sagrada
Familia. :)

Google search result :)

 Unfortunately, it was so packed full of people that
weren't allowed to go in, so we just walked around a little bit and
explored a little bit of Barce. Sometimes it's so easy to forget that
we live in Spain until we walk down these little picturesque streets
and hear everyone speaking Spanish. ;)

Sorry that it's so short today, but I love you all and I love being
here and I love this work! I love being a missionary. And I miss you
and love you all! I KNOW this gospel is true. :)

Love you!

-Hermana Larson

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

This week has been pretty rough as far as missionary work goes,
because we've been stuck inside piso for the last 3 days trying to
overcome a Fever/stomach virus that's been going around the Ward and
most of our investigators. All four of us had some degree of sickness
this week, so it's been a fairly difficult experience, feeling cooped
up in Piso while there are things to do and people to see. It's a
really strange sensation, but even after the first few hours we all
felt super antsy and ready to get back out in the world. The time here
is little and precious, and we all felt like there were better things
to be doing than just sleeping and getting better, haha. But, as a
wise man once said, "If you don't take the time to be well, you with
certainly take the time to be ill later." So we've been unwilling
captives of illness this week. Before that, we had a pretty great
week! Tuesday we had district meeting, which is always a fun and
uplifting and pump-you-up kind of activity. Our visits fired on us for
the afternoon, so we did some more contacting, but we didn't find much
success. We tried passing by one of our investigators that we haven't
seen in a while, and when he opened the door he was... Well... A bit
less than excited to see the missionaries. He told us, very passively,
how he hadn't read the passages that we had asked him to, and how he
didn't really have time to talk to us right then. That was a pretty
solid hit to the stomach, but we didn't let it phase us as we started
to stress the importance of reading and WHY we asked him to read it in
the first place. He softened up as we talked and bore our testimonies,
and expressed to us his fear and doubt of the existence of a god due
to a difficult challenge that he and his family have been going
through. We bore testimony to him that God really does live and love
us and guide us when we need his help, but that we have to demonstrate
that we are willing to trust and accept his help by reading the
scriptures, praying with REAL INTENT, and obeying the commandments He
has given us. I know that this is true. And no matter which issue we
are struggling with, big or small, if we do these things with the hope
and faith that we will receive Divine Assistance, we WILL receive
help. This is proven to me every. Day. As a missionary, both in my
life and in the lives of the members and investigators that we work
with. Our Heavenly Father loves us., and the things he asks us to do
are really for OUR benefit.

Wednesday we worked with one of our part-member/Menos activo families
that we've been seeing about once a week for the last little while.
We've kind of started a short cooking class kind of thing with the
wife and daughter, which is great because it gives us time to have
gospel related discussions with a wholesome recreational activity,
(Plus treats at the end!) She taught us how to make Bolones, a dish
from her native Ecuador, which are like platanos that you fry a bit in
olive oil, smash up, combine with butter and (here's the European
influence) really good cheese, and then you knead them together with
your hands and roll them up into little balls. They're SOO GOOD!!!!
Really super delicious, and it made us feel super South American! (Did
I already talk about this?) Anyway, so this week she asked us to help
her learn how to make a carrot cake, so with a little bit of
experimentation, we made a sugar-free carrot-walnut-banana bread
thing. Haha it wasn't exactly what we were expecting to make, but she
loved it, so there you go! We had English class that night, which is
always really fun. (Did I tell you that I got to teach it last week?
It was kind of difficult to teach English when I don't speak much
Spanish, but it ended up being pretty fun because we went over the
pronunciation of the Alphabet and double letters and stuff, then we
taught them some tongue twisters!)

Thursday was a MIRACLE day!! We went over to the metro station to see
if they had any information about my missing wallet, and GUESS WHAT??
They had my wallet!!!! Mostly unscathed and no worse for the wear, and
nothing was missing except my metro ticket! So that was a HUGE
miracle! (Lucky for me I didn't have any cash in there to begin
with.... Benefits of being a tight-budgeted missionary! ;)

Friday we decided was going to be OUR MIRACLE DAY! After not seeing
much success in the streets over the last week, we decided to spend
all morning going up and down a particular street in our area until we
found some news. We literally talked to EVERY person who we passed on
the street, applying different ideas of how to get them to stop and
listen to us for just a minute. Here are a few things we learned.

-asking if they have time to talk to us doesn't work
-sometimes the people who initially seem really unwilling to talk to
us turn out to be the best new investigators!
-We should always try to leave them with a card, pamphlet, or Book of Mormon
-We should always try to leave them with our testimonies and a prayer.
They should be able to feel the spirit!
-When you plan ahead with determination to lose yourself in the work,
The Lord provides MIRACLES!!!

After a roller coaster of a morning, we ended up finding FIVE news
just within an hour and a half!!! MIRACLES!!!!!!!!

That night we had Noche de Barrio, which is always super fun, And
Hermana Birch and I taught a lesson about the importance of reading
our scriptures. Hermana Birch had a lesson plan that she's used before
which is SUPER FUERTE but SUPER EFFECTIVE! You start out by clapping
and getting everyone excited and telling them that they've won a
prize. The prize is an all expense paid trip to anywhere in the world!
They get to choose! You get them talking about where they're going to
go, what they're going to do, what they're going to eat, etc. Then you
talk about how they're on the plane, they're going to their vacation,
when all of a sudden there's an announcement that the plane is
malfunctioning and they have 3 minutes to write out a letter to their
family/friends, giving them advice, sending love, etc. You give them
paper and a pen and they write out their letter, and then you tell
them that the plane has crashed, and that there were no survivors.
Luckily there's the plan of salvation, but we'll talk about that
another time. Your letters managed to be salvaged from the wreck, and
they were sent to your families. Unfortunately, with all the things
that need to be done- work, school, activities, sleep, vacations,
etc.- they just don't have time to read your note right NOW. They'll
read it someday, once they have more time, maybe tomorrow or the next
day, just whenever they actually do have time. As you're telling them
this, you start ripping their letters up into pieces. That's the super
FUERTE part. And honestly, it hurts to do it! They just spent 3
minutes writing down how much they love their families/friends, their
last wishes, advice, and everything, but then you just rip it up. The
energy in the room which was so high at the beginning, gets solemn
really quick. The days without reading the letters turn into weeks,
then months, then years. And all the effort that you put into it, all
the love, your last moments of life, all go wasted. Then you compare
that to the scriptures, because really, that's what they are. There
are so many many MANY people who have sacrificed their freedom, their
well-being, and their lives for these words because they are So
IMPORTANT. It's a pretty punch-in-the-gut lesson, but it worked really
really well!!! Then we exacted a promise from each person present that
they would go home THAT NIGHT and read their scriptures. It was a
great day!

Saturday we started feeling pretty ill, but we stuck it out and went
to Sports, which leaped from it's usual 10-15 people to about 50
thanks to one Romanian family/friend group that the elders found. That
was a pretty entertaining experience, to say the least! It was

Sunday was a MIRACLE DAY! As we were sitting in Sacrament meeting with
one of our investigators, the part-member/Menos activo family that
we've been working with snuck in about 3 minutes after it started!!!!
IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! Hermana Birch and I couldn't hide our smiles and
after the meeting, we had to jump in line to hug them because the
WHOLE WARD was so happy to see them! It brought some pretty happy
tears to my eyes.

After that, we headed to piso, cause that's when we started feeling ill.

And that's my week! Pretty eventful, pretty sick, and PRETTY
AMAZING!!!! I love this work that I'm a part of and I love you all! I
know this gospel is true and I know the Book of Mormon is the word of
I love you all!

-Hermana Larson

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hey there Friends and Family!!

Visiting Tibidabo on Prep Day
This week has been a long and kinda crazy one, but it's been so greatall at the same time! (This really has been the pattern for basically
my whole mission so far... Haha)

We spent a lot of time contacting this week, which has been a pretty
difficult but a really good experience! Contacting tends to be the
most intimidating part of missionary work for me so far. I don't know
why, but it's just super hard to open my mouth sometimes! So getting
practice has been a really tough but really good experience. And we've
found all kinds of really good ways to try to make sure that we're in
the right place at the right time. First we plan who we're going to
pass by the night before and pray for those specific places and
people. We have a GIANT list of people who used to meet with the
missionaries and members and less actives that we can pick from. Then
we make sure to do First Contact as we leave our piso, to ensure that
we won't be afraid to talk to anyone. :) As we make our way from
address to address, we try to make contact with as many people as
possible, whether that be helping someone carry something heavy,
smiling and saying hello to people who are passing, or actually
stopping someone and introducing ourselves. Hermana Larsen and I were
on an intercambio this week and she introduced me to a game where you
think of a color, and you introduce yourself to anyone and everyone
wearing that particular color. You just find little ways to say to the
Lord, "hey! I'm ready to find the people who are ready to listen to
us! I'm going to do my part; here's where I'm going to be. Will you
send the person who has been looking for this gospel to one of those
places?" And you know what? Every day we found someone that wanted to
listen! Or at least someone that we could give a Book of Mormon and a
pamphlet to, and leave with a prayer. We saw SO MANY LITTLE MIRACLES
this week! So many people who we might not ever know what happens to
them, but who we were able to share a piece of our message with.
There's quite a staggering statistic about contacting in the streets
and everything. Are you ready? 1 out of every 500 people who gets
contacted through knocking doors gets baptized, 1 out of every 1000
people who gets contacted in the street gets baptized, and 1 out of
every THREE people who is a member reference gets baptized. Can you
believe that??? We've really been trying our best this week to try and
stress member help as we're working with people, because really the
members have such an amazing influence on missionary work! Really,
membership in this church is kind of like your mission call, I think,
haha. Now that we have tasted of the fruit, we have people who we are
looking for to share it with, right? Lehi immediately thought of his
family, Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah immediately thought of
their enemies, the Lamanites! We've gotta share it!!! SHOUT IT FROM
THE ROOFTOPS! Can you imagine, especially in this day and age, how
broad the influence of just one person can be? It's just amazing.

Another miracle we had this week, really quick, came from our pass-by
list. We've been going through our ward list and trying to visit every
person on the list who lives in our area. We haven't seen a whole lot
of success from that, as either the people have moved or they're not
really on good terms with the Church or the Members for whatever
reason, but this week we saw a MIRACLE. There was one name that kinda
stuck out to us a bit, simply because it was not very
Spanish-sounding, so we decided to visit them this week. When we
finally found their house after walking for about an hour, we knocked
on the door and asked for this particular sister. The man who answered
the door called her over, and she sees these two little American girls
with Chapas standing on her porch, and she just bursts into the
BIGGEST grin!!!! She comes over and sweeps us into a hug and starts
talking to us about how long it's been since she's seen any
missionaries, and how long it's been since she thought about the
church. Then she steps back and just looks at us for a minute, and
starts crying, still smiling from ear to ear. She didn't tell us too
much about why she wasn't coming to church, how she was converted, or
anything, but she just kept repeating that there were "so many
wonderful memories" that kept coming to her mind. That brought some
tears to my eyes as well... Not going to lie. She said she had
actually lived in Utah for a year and half, and she and her family had
been super active during most of her life after her baptism. And she
remembered how blessed she had been during those times, how beautiful
her baptism was, and the amazing spirit that she used to feel. She
even told us about how she had visited the Salt Lake Temple to do
baptisms and how beautiful that was! We're planning on visiting her
again this week, and I'll keep you updated on that.

I love you all and I know this church is true! I loved getting to talk
to you yesterday! Love you all!

-Hermana Larson

Mother's Day Face Time

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hola Familia!

I'm gonna try again to go through things day by day and see what
happens. If I repeat some stuff, I'm sorry!

We went bowling and ate Taco Bell as a district with our brand new
District Leader, Elder Jones. I..... Lost. Miserably. But I'm going to
blame that on the fact that I was wearing a skirt and that part of the
competition was about creativity, and the two don't go together well
often. But overall it was really fun! I love wholesome recreational
activities with good friends. :) Then we visited some people and
headed back to piso for the night.

Mont Juik

We had District meeting with everyone, which was really good, as
always! In district meeting we review our work over the last couple of
weeks and make goals for the next couple, learn how to live better as
missionaries, and just get all on the same page. It's always great
experience and we always get super pumped up for the next week! Our
goal this time is to have at least ONE baptism for this Transfer,
which will end at the end of May. So we have one month to help our
investigators as much as we possibly can! We're pumped!

Once upon a time, we were having a perfectly normal, happy little
companionship study, Hermana Birch and I, when ALL OF A SUDDEN we were
interrupted by the other Hermanas who came in, faces pale and solemn
as the grave, and they uttered one word that has turned our lives
upside down since then:


Yep, lice.

In the piso.

On the head of a certain Hermana LarsEn.

Naturally, the entire piso was in a panic that morning. We went on a
Deep-Cleaning, Lice-picking RAMPAGE. Everyone's hair went up and
nobody has so much as touched Hermana Larsen since then. (We still
love her of course... Just not enough to risk bugs in our hair.) But
Hermana Francisco has turned out to be a MASTER LICE KILLER. Every
day, twice a day, she has sat Hermana Larsen down with a lice comb AND
vinegar AND rubbing alcohol, and in a matter of two days rid the piso
completely of lice. It was a miracle to witness, let me tell you.
Yours truly has been clean so far, but I'm told that no Hermana
escapes the mission without getting Lice at least once, so I'm just
going to be wary from now on. Evidently it's a fairly common
occurrence here, so I'm gonna REALLY start being careful. But that has
thoroughly destroyed our piso over the last week, as we have put EVERY
Clothing item, EVERY brush and comb, and EVERY sheet though the
washing and drying process. So that was fun.

We decided to be fearless. And, we have learned that when you decide
to be fearless, THAT'S when you get faced with the scariest-looking
people. SO we left piso, and our first contact turned out to be a
gypsy man with a HUGE beard and VERY long hair, which, I dunno... Is
pretty intimidating at first. So I was scared. But we talked with him,
explained a little bit about the Book of Mormon, and he was VERY
receptive! He asked to know more, and when we could meet with him. We
explained that we could go over to the church at that very moment to
explain more, if he'd like. He agreed, and we started walking to the
church. As we were walking, one of our friendly neighborhood
antagonizers decided to come walking with us, yelling about how we
were lying, how the church wasn't true, and how he had already saved
himself, how he didn't need Christ or the Book of Mormon or a prophet
or anyone else. We pass this guy quite a bit, and more like him, so we
have just stopped responding now, but our poor little new friend was
pretty affected by it. As a matter of fact, as we were crossing the
street, he shoved the Book of Mormon and Capilla card that we had
given him back at me, and walked after the other guy. We stood on the
corner for a second, not sure if he was coming back or what, but
evidently the antagonizer had made a friend of our new investigator,
and he left us presumably for good. Eventually we decided to continue
on, but as I've been pondering about that experience, I've realized
that it's kind of like watching the Book of Mormon and the cycle of
faith and hopelessness that's shown there so often. Oftentimes people
get SO CLOSE to having the truth. SO. CLOSE. But right then is when it
gets the hardest to grasp. That's when your faith, your hope, your
willingness to follow Christ, always get punched the hardest. And if
you can get past that, then it's SO AMAZING. But that's the test! So
it was really saddening to watch this poor little man walk away so
readily from something that could help him so much in his life. I
guess that's the cycle a lot of the time here in the mission, and we
see quite a few instances of that happening... Over and over again.
That's really the hardest part of the mission, I think. IT'S SO HARD.
UGH. IT'S THE WORST THING. You don't remember the people who are just
rude or the ones who give you a hard time, it's the people who, even
for just a half a second, can glimpse the reality of this message that
stick in your mind. (I would say they stick in your heart, which is
true, but it's a little too cheesy.) And then, A LOT of them lose that
yeah. We have 2 families that we're working with right now that we
think are really prepared to receive AND continue in the Camino de
Luz! Someday we'll get to see it. I can feel it! Someday soon!

I love this gospel. I love this work and the chance I have to be here
in Badalona and in Spain. I am so grateful to have the influence of
this gospel in my life and the life of us as a family! I know the Book
of Mormon is true!!!
Love you all,

-Hermana Larson