Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Emails Two Days Late

Dear Family,

The library was closed on Monday and Tuesday so today is the day we can email but I have a letter that I shall send you instead of writing much now so we can do some good work.

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What were you served for Christmas dinner?

Roast meal, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, turkey, duck, carrots, tried some horse radish, etc.

Question #2: What were the highlights of your Christmas?

Seeing how great the ward looks after us, being able to make Christmas a bit happier for Sister Page, and talking to you.

Question #3: Can we send things to the mission office yet or is it still being remodeled?

I believe it's still under construction.

Great to talk to you guys. Matt, enough of the pish posh.

Elder Larsen

A few minutes later. . . .

Dear Family,

Well, it seems I have 10 minutes while Elder Mahendran finishes his letter to the President.

I love the potential we have as Children of God. Today at District Meeting we had a training by our Zone Leader Elder Solomon (he is a monster). It was on effective study. I am so excited to improve my study. I need to start using a journal more often.

As a mission, everyone is setting goals for the year 2012 (if the world doesn't end). In our district we are taking 3-5 missionaries that have impacted us and 3-5 Book of Mormon heroes and looking at their attributes to set goals for what we want to become.

The missionaries I look up to are Elder Sikahema (my daddy), Elder Paramalingam (Elder Mahendran's counterpart), Elder Solomon, and Elder Mahendran (my baby). The Book of Mormon heroes I chose are Abinadi, Ammon, Helaman, and Captain Moroni. That is a lot of power right there to look at but if the coming year is anything like this one, with Heavenly Father's help, I can accomplish a lot.

Love you,

Elder Larsen

Monday, December 19, 2011

Have a Wonderful Christmas

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What are your plans for Christmas day?

We so far have some open invitations. We haven't really set times for anything at all though.

Question #2: What have you learned about Christmas traditions in England?

Christmas is a bit similar here as in the USA. They have mince pies and a few other things but it's quite similar.

Question #3: What was the highlight of last week?

The highlight was seeing a new investigator called Joe. Joe is 17 and doesn't have a great family situation. He's living with some friends. He has a desire to get onto the straight and narrow. He came to church and we will be seeing him tomorrow evening and hopefully we'll be getting him a lift to Young Men's.

Alex, the one Elder Sikahema taught, is doing really well. I love being able to dive a bit deeper into the lessons since he has had them a few times already.

Another highlight is that a less-active 18 year-old boy came to church this week for the first time in 2 years. It went amazing, the members haven't forgotten him and he felt like a million pounds. We walked with him to church 5 miles. It was easily worth it.

We are now entering the very cold times. It has snowed briefly a couple times. I love it. The best way to keep warm is to work really hard and build up a sweat. That is motivation.

Recently I have been astounded at the spirit that many people in this mission carry. President Patch makes me feel so excited and inspired, Sister Patch makes me feel peace and love. My Zone Leader Elder Solomon has such authority and power behind his words. My goal for the new year is to have a spirit like that about me.

Very much I have taken notice of the individuality in many amazing people. The First Presidency and the 12 Apostles are all amazing people yet they all speak and act in unique ways. When President Monson speaks he eminates such Christlike love. Elder Holland speaks with much boldness and authority ("I might singe your eyebrows just a little bit.") The potential we have is amazing, Heavenly Father's plan is all about helping us reach our highest potential.

Such a wonderful time it is to give extra focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. As I believe President Hinckley once said, "There would be no Christmas if it weren't for Easter." How true it is. The Saviour was born to rescue us from sin.

As a missionary I have a wonderful opportunity to have the best Christmas ever, a time of service, a time to bring people to remembrance of that babe lying in a manger. There is no place I would rather be, nothing I would rather be doing than where and what I am. I love helping people remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Have a wonderful Christmas. I think my gift will be a bit late. I'm making something and just may not finish it for a little while longer. "It's gonna be big!" (-Hercules, about indoor plumbing).

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Listening

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What are your responsibilities as District Leader?

Watch over 5 other missionaries, give them training where needed, try to be a good example, plan District Meetings, go on work-overs with each missionary, etc. Two of the missionaries in the District are Zone Leaders. I don't know what I can do to help them. Haha.

Question #2: Where are the missionaries in your District from?

Arizona, Orem, Provo..., Germany, Utah, and Utah but lived in Abu Dhabi most of his life.

Question #3: How often do you have Zone Conference and where do you have it?

Usually every 3 months we have a Zone Conference, both times they have been in an area in my Zone at a Chapel.

Mission work is going well. I am excited to learn a lot and be able to serve others. I found out that the guy we are teaching that will be baptized on February 4th was taught by Elder Sikahema (my first companion) about 2 years ago, haha.

Right now during this Christmas time, it seems to be a bit harder for people to listen, they are all so busy. Also, the library near town centre is closed for a couple weeks. Things are good, I'm learning a lot.

As I continue to grow in knowledge and experience it sometimes becomes a challenge to rely fully on the Spirit. Right now I am trying to follow the scriptures and lean not to my understanding. I have found that as I listen to the person we are teaching that the Spirit puts the ideas in my head for me. Sometimes listening can take a lot of effort, but as we do, the promise in Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-6 is definitely true. I love that Heavenly Father is a completely honest and true God.

We had Zone Meeting yesterday. It was really good and we did a white elephant gift exchange. I got your package. That music is real good and so is the candy! Haha.

I belive that for the Chrismas phone call I get 30-40 minutes so it would be great if you could think of the things you need to ask and want to talk about. Can you let me know when you will all be home so I can know when to call.

In Mosiah 18:30 it says Mormon 6 times. In 1830 the Church was officially organized with 6 men.

Judges 4:21 is the crazy Old Testament scripture of the week, haha. Lately I have been enticing a less-active member to read the scriptures by giving him a crazy or interesting scripture as a bonus.

Love you,

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

District Leader

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What was your greatest challenge last week?

The greatest challenge was that we had lots of places to go to and used the buses. Using the buses takes a lot of planning and sometimes a bit of luck. One day, because of slow buses and buses coming late, it was quite hard.

Question #2: What was your most uplifting experience last week?

We taught George last week and then didn't have any contact with him for a few days. Elder Mahendran and I fasted for him and in my personal prayer I asked that we could be able to contact him and see him. Sunday evening after the fast I gave him a call and he picked up and we will see him tomorrow. I think it's just hard to get a hold of him when he's always out training on his bike.

Question #3: What has been the highlight of your time with Elder Mahendran?

Probably just everything. So far he has been one of my favourite companions. We are both learning a lot.

You are correct, transfers are this week. The chain continues: non Brazilian, Brazilian, non Brazilian, Brazilian, non Brazilian, Brazilian! I am going to Dover with Elder Fernandez. OK, that's not true. The chain was broken and for once I stay with my companion.

Yet again I had a frightening surprise. President Patch called me and now I will be a District Leader. Your prayers would be very much appreciated. As you know, I'm not exactly a born leader. Haha. The missionaries in the Grays area are called Elders Paul and Ostermiller, in Basildon Elders Solomon and Potts, and in Southend Elder Mahendran and "some other guy" (aka Elder Larsen). Please pray that the Grasilend District can be successful.

Dad, I bet Uncle John is laughing his face off that OU and BYU have the same record. Joey, I was under the blanket, I cruised over while my companion was asleep with my Abomb speed. Mom, he was never innocent. Matthew, no one beats the blind wonder. Lisa, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only "Father Christmas". Haha.

Mission work here in Southend is seeing many improvements. One investigator, Alex, who is married to a member has a baptism date for February 4th which we are hopefully going to move a bit sooner. And we have many others that will have dates this week.

This transfer will be fantastic because there is nothing to slow us down, Just as Joey said, no prayer goes unanswered if we are in sincere need. It seems like every transfer I am having experience after experience that strengthens my testimony. I am so confident that anyone who reads the Book of Mormon, prays about it, and comes to church will gain a testimony if they want to know if this is true.

Hope you guys have a great week.

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On the Ball



Tender Mercies

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Have you been able to get another bike yet?

I asked President and he said to call a missionary in the office, but I think we will just walk and use the bus.

Question #2: Do you speak any German with your companion?

Not really. As you know, I didn't really take languages seriously in High School. I should have him teach me some, it's just that we have so little time. Why couldn't I have inherited the love for languages earlier? Haha.

Question #3: Do you have any advice for Heidi and her new baby?

I don't know. I only have envisioned raising boys, I'm no good dealing with girls. I just recall about the talk by sister Dalton on her advice. Share your testimony with them, share your testimony with others, make sure they know without a doubt that you know this is The church of Jesus Christ. Alma 56:48 - "We did not doubt our mothers (and fathers) knew it. I didn't ever doubt that, and when I doubted myself, that is a big part of what helped me to gain my own testimony. Thank you.

Oh, the tender mercies of the Lord. On Saturday we were out talking in the street for a while having very little success when we were prompted to say a prayer. We prayed that we would find someone that was open to hear us. I was about to head back into the High Street and Elder Mahendran wanted to talk to people on benches. I debated with myself then we went to people on benches. We talked to a couple people sitting down and had a good conversation but nothing tangible. Then we stopped a guy walking by and he was open to hear our message.

Yesterday we were finding and had prayed before we went out to find a new investigator. Next thing you know, a couple hours later we met George. George is a 19 year-old Pro Cyclist. He is very open to meet with us and asked where our Church is so he can come and said he feels good when he talks to us. He has looked into some religions but doesn't feel that witness of truth.

We are so excited to fill the hole in his heart that he may not know he has. PMG somewhere tells a story of a taxi driver that was converted. I already have a vision of him on the front page of Mormon.org - #1 Cyclist in the World - "I'm a Mormon." Haha, too bad we got our bikes stolen or I would dethrone him. We could have ridden with him to Church.

Jameson, congratulations! You are so lucky to go on a mission somewhere where the winters are not so cold. Haha. I love England.

This week I have been enjoying my study of the New Testament a lot. I still can't imagine why people reject the Book of Mormon when they match together so well. I really like to go through the four Gospels using the Bible Dictionary that compares them.

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 21, 2011

Andy's Sister and New Niece Abby

England Fog

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What are the scriptures you are memorizing during breakfast?

I am memorizing the scriptures on our England London Mission scripture memorization card. They come from the five lessons in Preach My Gospel. One of my favorites is 2 Nephi 2:6-8 which I was able to recite in a lesson yesterday.

Question #2: What took Elder Mahendran's parents to Germany and what is their conversion story?

Elder Mahendran's parents moved to Germany 20 years ago, so Elder Mahendran was born and raised in Germany. I think his parents wanted a better life for the kids. When he was 12 his family met two sister missionaries and were later baptized. They felt something missing in their Hindu faith and the gap was filled by this message. His parents especially love the focus on families.

Question #3: Did Elder Mahendran already know English or did he learn it at the MTC?

He knew it pretty well before. He went to the Preston MTC for just 3 weeks. Sometimes he struggles when people talk fast or have weird accents. But hey, so do I sometimes. It doesn't even seem like English.

Heidi, well, I guess a girl is OK. Haha. No, that is great. I am excited to see her in a couple years. I'm sure you're not allowed to send missionaries nudity pictures. Haha. Looks like all the cousins near Marty's age will be girls. Haha. Tell Abby her uncle Elder Larsen loves her.

For the first time we are seeing some of this England fog I was told about. Yesterday we walked 5+ miles to church since our bikes were stolen last week. We are yet to hear from President Patch if we need to buy new bikes or not. We had them outside locked to a gate and I guess someone cut the lock and ran off with them. It helps you realize how hard it can be for some people to get to church. It took about an hour and 20 minutes.

Here in England there is no celebration of Thanksgiving. I haven't even heard it mentioned. Ever since Halloween people started talking about Christmas. I'm always sitting there thinking, "Wow, Christmas is 2 months away." Haha. They always ask me if I'm excited for Christmas and I'm always saying, "Haven't even thought about it yet."

Derron is the name of the guy who tried to save us from the drunk man, that is also a bit of an alcoholic. He now has a baptismal date for the 30th of December, but it will take lots of work. In our appointments I can smell the alcohol on his breath. He already has a small testimony of the Gospel because of his experience with the Book of Mormon. We will hopefully meet him today and help him to progress and get him sober.

This week I have learned very much about how the Great Apostasy was starting while the Apostles were still here. In Paul's epistles you can see the people are going astray already. I know that if we can just find someone elect and willing to listen with an open heart that they will see the need for the Restoration and the truth of it. My favorite part of teaching is to explain the Apostasy and then follow with the First Vision. The Spirit is almost uncomfortably strong when we recite the First Vision in the words of Joseph Smith.

I have always seen in my life that I don't understand everything, but as I study, every principle begins to make more and more sense.

I love having all my time devoted to this work. There is nothing more fulfilling and nothing that could help me grow more. I am thankful for my family, the gospel, and most of all, for the life of Jesus Christ.

I love you all,

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Streets of Southend



Halloween



Most Delicious Breakfast



Ponder the Word of God

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Do you and your companion ever race on your bikes?

I have raced only 2 times on bikes. The first time was my first week riding vs 7 week Elder Siano and he beat me. The second time was 3 week vs 10 week Elder Siano and I was smoking him then I hit a red light and he ran it. Haha.

Question #2: Do you ever teach Sunday School? (Joey said he did all the time.)

I have only taught it 3 times so far. It's pretty good but in this ward they just talk away so we basically just stand up there and try to control it.

Question #3: How often do you speak in Sacrament Meeting?

I have only spoken once and it was about the Book of Mormon.

Bonus Question: Do you cut your own hair?

I cut my own hair with a shaver that Elder Sikahema left. I do all of it myself except the back trimming, which my companions do.

Oh mom, thank you so much for telling me about your juicy scrumptious meal, so kind of you when I'm starving. Haha. Wow I miss that kind of food.

Nice family pictures. I took a few pictures that I will send but next week I'll have to send one with me in my white shirt and... "Trousers". (Mom's note: We were all dressed in white shirts and "jeans" in the family pictures we sent him.) Marty looks....well, different. I've been away for about half of his life now. Haha.

This week has been good. It is starting to get colder so everyone tries to be my mother. Where is your coat, scarf, etc.

It's been a good week of work. We are starting to build up the area step by step and it is looking up. Last night we had a pretty good miracle story.

We were talking to people through town at about 5:00 yesterday and we stopped and were talking with a lady, very nice, but believes as long as you're Christian it doesn't matter what denomination. Then this crazy drunk starts talking to us, swearing and speaking blasphemy.

Another guy came and told him not to swear at us and to leave us be. He ended up leaving because the guy wouldn't listen to him. So, we endured another 5 minutes and said we had to go. We walked off with the lady and then came back because she needed to pick up her niece. We were staying with her until her niece came in case the drunk came back.

Then the other guy came and asked if everything was okay and apologized for the drunk. He was a bit drunk himself but was a nice guy. We talked about religion and he expressed doubts about the brass plates. So Elder Mahendran told him to open the Book of Mormon to find an answer.

He did right there and he read, "Ponder the work of God" and "Pray for understanding" ....hmmm. Coincidence? I think not. He is also moving into a place that is a 10ish minute walk from the chapel and we will see him Tuesday. Later that night he called and wants help to stop drinking because he said, "I can't be in your Church if I drink, can I?"

We will see. Also, after Elders Quorum, the son-in-law of a member said he wants to have us over for the missionary lessons so he can be baptized in the new year.

I'll be sending a picture of it, I have been having the most delicious breakfasts ever. Toast an English muffin, butter it, stick on some ham, cheese, and pepper, put it in the microwave and there you go. Some Cookie Crisp and a banana on the side and you are guaranteed a good start to the day. I eat that delicious breakfast while memorizing scriptures and my day is gooood!

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 7, 2011

Comical Companions





The Spirit is Very Bold

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What languages does Elder Mahendran speak? Johnny (cousin who works for the state department in India) wondered if he speaks Tamil.

Elder Mahendran speaks English, German, and .... Tamil.

Question #2: What MTC did Elder Mahendran go to? In the picture you sent it looked like you met him at the airport.

He went to the Preston England MTC, it's just that right now the mission office is being remodeled so we had to meet him in the Euston Rail Station.

Question #3: Do you speak with a British accent when you talk to Brits?

No, but people tell me that I will sound English when I go home. Lots of people say I don't sound American, but I think they expect a strong accent. Everyone here thinks that Americans pronounce their R's really hard and things.

It is getting a bit chilly here too, riding our bikes to church yesterday really woke me up. I already have a winter coat, I found it in the Cambridge flat. Still haven't used it though because I have my thermals and a sweater.

I had an experience with slowing down this week to listen to the Spirit. We were tracting and we were sharing with a lady about the Plan of Salvation. It wasn't really going anywhere until I took the time to listen to her and the Spirit. Then I asked, "Have you ever wondered where we came from and why we are here?" Then it opened up and we will see her tomorrow.

Mom, I think you should come and offer a meal after church. I bet if investigators knew they would be getting a home cooked meal from Mama Larsen they would be more inclined to come, haha. It can be a bit difficult when people don't understand the importance of this message and attending church. But we are here to help them understand how important it is and to make them feel welcome.

The week at church Craig and Ashleigh were confirmed and Craig received the Priesthood. I confirmed Craig and Elder Mahendran confirmed Ashleigh. It was amazing. I love how the Spirit can speak through us as Priesthood holders. I am confident that the blessing didn't come from myself. The Spirit is very bold. All of the sudden the words, "You will have the opportunity to go on a mission, listen to your leaders..." I am confident that he will serve a mission.

Yesterday we met someone and taught him a lesson. He's called Wayne. He is in the process of repenting and turning his life on the right path. I am so excited. We'll see him again tomorrow when we can dive into true repentance and that the first fruits of repentance is Baptism. How lucky we are as missionaries to help people on the path to Eternal Life so that they can enjoy the full blessings that Heavenly Father has for them.

Something interesting I read this morning was a talk by Dalllin H. Oaks. He said that other churches and religions can turn bad people into good people and good people into better, they can take people from Telestial to Terrestial. Only we can take people into the Celestial Kingdom, and baptism is the way.

Love you,

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Meeting Elder Mahendran



Training a New Missionary

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How do you like dinner appointments? Is it hard to eat all the different types of food they put before you?

Dinner appointments are most always something delicious and not crazy. I enjoy the food and am not bothered by that. The part I don't like is that it takes a lot of time out of our day. Often it takes half an hour to get to the house then we're there for an hour and a half, so meh.

Question #2: Tell us about your new companion. Where is he from? What is he like?

Elder Mahendran is from Germany but both his parents are Sri Lankan, wooohoo. When President Patch told me he was Sri Lankan and from Germany it reminded me of my favorite missionary in the mission, Elder Paramalingam who is Sri Lankan and is from Switzerland and speaks Swiss German. Elder Mahendran is about 6'1" and awesome. He is really willing to be obedient and work hard and has some good creativity. I am excited to teach him what I know and watch and learn myself. I love new missionaries because they don't know a lot and so rely on the Spirit. That is something I need to be a bit better at at times.

Question #3: What things have you focused on as you began training a brand new missionary this week?

I have gotten back to the foundation: Obedience and Diligence. As we use all our time to serve others and humbly obey we will be entrusted with the Spirit. I look back to how Elder Sikahema trained me and "try" to emulate the same things that he did. I look back and see the influence that he had on me and know that I have a great chance to set this missionary off right. It is fun explaining why we do everything and why certain things are important because as I testify of principles it strengthens my own testimony.

Matt, I already have all the beef, I checked on the scale this morning and I weigh a whopping 135! Don't worry, it all comes from muscle, you know me.

I have kept the streak of non-white companions, oh yeah! This week has been so great, I love the work we are doing and the wonderful ideas that Elder Mahendran has.

Last night we went to a part member family. The husband has been inactive since age 12 and the wife is a Buddhist from........Sri Lanka! Fancy that. Strange how it works. We will see them again on Wednesday and I envision the wife being baptized within the next couple of months. They didn't really care about religion before they had kids but now they want their kids to grow up with good values. I can't wait to teach them about the Plan of Salvation and tell stories of how raising kids in the Gospel sets them on the right path. I can tell about that from experience.

This week I am going to try a new style of finding every day. Elder Mahendran and I are going to do all we can to make finding exciting and to be led by the Spirit. I love planning things that will make work more effective and exciting. Still, my favorite approach is when I step up to someone and say, "I know that Jesus Christ died for you." The Spirit immediately comes and even when people reject us I'm confident that they will remember that and it could be a seed planted.

I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have received revelation from it in my times of need. When I start the day by reading it, it opens the door for the Spirit to testify through me throughout the day.

Recently I have come to a greater knowledge of the truth of the Bible, emphasis on the New Testament. I read it and can't see why people are so confused, and it reaffirms the truth of the Gospel. I am so happy to share the Atonement of Jesus Christ with all in my path for I know that nothing else I could do would be better. I pray that people will be willing to do as it says in Alma 32:27 and allow room for the seed.

I love you guys,

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Craig and Ashleigh Were Baptized

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How many miles do you ride on your bike in a week?

Not exactly sure. About three times a week we ride to the Church, there and back, and that's about 25 minutes at a very fast pace. Other than to the Church and to see Craig and Ashleigh it's not too bad. In a week we may ride about 30ish? Shot in the dark, not sure.

Question #2: Have you tried any of the new approaches for finding that you mentioned (white board, pictures, etc.) yet? If so did they work well?

I haven't used the whiteboard, it's very intimidating and my companion doesn't like the idea. I have used pictures at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, pamphlets, and the picture of us all at the airport. It works pretty well to make finding more fun and seems to be pretty effective. The best is sharing about families and then pulling out a picture of my family to show them. Even my best bud Devin is in the picture.

Question #3: Do you have any new funny stories to tell?

The best story of the transfer is this: 4ish weeks ago we were driving with the Zone Leaders from an appointment with Craig and Ashleigh. It was too late to drop us off at the chapel for us to ride back home so they had to drop us off at home instead. We were debating with the Zone Leaders how we would go to the chapel to get our bikes the next day. I talked about taking a nice morning jog and the Zone Leader (Elder Solomon) said why not just take a taxi. Elder Siano said, "We don't have the money for that." Elder Solomon replied, "It's only 3 pounds." I replied perfectly saying, "Well, I guess either way we'll lose 3 pounds!" Bwahahaha. It was quite funny.

Question #4: Did you go to London for P-day two weeks ago?

No, for some reason the other missionaries that were going to London decided not to go. Either way, that day I had a bad cold and wouldn't have gone anyway. Last week we did go to a giant shopping mall where I followed Elder Siano through every single store. I'm not much of a spender so I spent nothing.

Mom was correct, this is moves week. All of Monday I wasn't anticipating the phone call as much as usual. I figured for the first time that nothing would change for me at all, that Elder Siano and I would continue to be companions in South End. That night we were updating the Area Book and making calls when President Patch called. Elder Siano answered and he asked for me. President Patch informed me that Elder Siano was being transferred and that I would be training a new missionary! I'll tell you, it was a very big shocker for me, the last thing I expected. Only one Elder is going home so I assumed that not many were coming in. I am very excited to be with a new missionary filled with the strong desire to serve.

I cannot wait to help Grandpa with his totem pole, and make sure he knows that I will make him a much nicer coffin. (Mom's note: I had mentioned to Andy that his Grandpa Hall had said that he could just be buried in the tall cabinet that Andy made for their bathroom.) Luckily, I think he'll live until he's 180 so I may not get the chance.

Elder Gustafson from Wallsburg served here in South End, his name is written on the English flag in our flat. Right now I'm wearing my Wallsburg hoodie. I must say that because of my loving Grandparents I love Wallsburg very much. Many of my best memories are up at that great Cabin.

The Dirty Devil sounded like it went great. Matt, it may hurt right now, but I assure you, your pain will make for a good story in the future. If only I could have seen that, it must have been amazing. I bet you were doing a ballerina dance all the way down. Of course Dave had to get all the home runs. I remember all of my smashes went one foot into the reeds, haha. Surely you all had some good splash offense as well.

The Baptism went excellent. Craig and Ashleigh were both baptized. We had a great musical number with us and the Young Women. Elder Siano baptized Craig and I baptized Ashleigh. Using my priesthood really feels good, being able to be a part of that ordinance is something I will treasure forever. The both of them and their family should bring strength to the ward. With Elder Siano leaving, I'm not sure how the confirmations will go but that should be great. Now we really need to focus on Rebekkah, the 11 year-old daughter to be baptized here in November.

I will send you an SD card in the mail today, on my honor. Got some decent pictures in there.

Love,
Elder Larsen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Am I a REAL Missionary?

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Did you have to buy a bike?

No, I didn't buy the bike, they were just here when I came.

Question #2: Did you really believe that Matt wrote that letter last week?

I hoped he did.

Question #3: How was your interview with President Patch?

I love interviews with President Patch. He had really good advice on being able to compromise. It's better to compromise minor things than get in an argument. He told me I may never have a companion that will run as fast as me. That was a bit sad. Every time after I talk with him it brings my excitement back up and I feel great. President said that as of now he feels good about me and Elder Siano being companions so it's quite possible we'll stay together.

I'm glad BYU is doing well, especially Mike Alisa.

Joey, I suggest that you take homemade peanut butter bars on the Dirty Devil trip, that is if they won't melt. I miss those delicious things. The Dirty Devil has got to be the best campout ever. Remember, Matt, you have to take my place in the dunk pictures. I'll expect one sent to me. Put a few rocks in Dave's bag as well for payback. Being on a mission, experiences like campouts are some of my clearest memories. I love to tell my companions about the Dirty Devil and all of our fun traditions.

Today the plan is that we are going to a huge mall with Craig, Ahsleigh, and their parents. For some reason missionaries like to go look at all the stores around here. I never buy anything, I figure I'll wait until the end of my mission to get anything. It should be fun though, with investigators being there.

Yesterday we were able to watch the last session of General Conference in Sacrament Meeting. That was great. I especially liked the talk about Being REAL. Am I a real missionary? I also found the talk about the Titanic very interesting. I had no idea that missionaries were going to go on that boat. Sadly, the woman passed away, but at least she died doing good things. It's amazing to hear about the stories where the spirit prompts someone to not go somewhere or not do something and it ends up saving their lives. I have found that that's how it works as missionaries. A small prompting, if followed, can save the lives of others.

Right now we are trying to raise our pool of investigators. Now that Craig and Ashleigh will be baptized we won't have anyone with baptism dates. So we are out in town center trying to find someone that can be baptized next transfer.

This week I am trying to think of new approaches to use when out finding in the town center. I think I'll use pictures, maybe a white board, and testify. Our District Leader often approaches by immediately testifying. "Excuse me, ma'am, I know that Jesus Christ lives." I am excited to try new things out.

This week I read Alma 5. It's a really good chapter for evaluating where you stand. That is one of the chapters that really makes me ponder and open myself for inspiration on how to be better.

Love you guys, all the best,

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1955 Burger

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How was the 1955 burger?

It was super delicious. It had a big slab of meat, tomato, lettuce, bbq sauce and BACON. Very very good.

Question #2: Why can't you go to town center after 7:00 pm?

We can but it's just full of 14 year-olds smoking (don't get any ideas, Matthew) and old men drinking as well.

Question #3: Do you ride bikes in your area?

We ride bikes, yeah, it's going pretty good. The church is about 25 minutes away cruising on the bike often up and down hills. At first my nalgas didn't enjoy it, but now it's not so bad at all. My legs are now 100% muscle. Sometimes I pretend the wimpy thing is a dirt bike, but it's just not the same.

Amanda, the mother of our two teenage investigators, has been coming to everything. She is really good. The issue is, she smokes and she is living with her "partner". She has cut from about 30 fags (English for cigarettes) to one or two a day. She was previously married to her partner but got divorced, then got back together just not married... He is Catholic, nice guy, but not really interested in becoming a Mormon.

This week we gave both Craig and Ashleigh baptism calendars. They are pretty great. I will be baptizing Ashleigh and Elder Siano will baptize Craig on the 23rd.

Elder Biondi and I have been sending letters back and forth and next week they will baptize an African that Elder Biondi and I found and taught, maybe an older lady from Chile that Elder Vitorio and I found and also taught with Biondi, and on the 23rd a girl that Elder Biondi and I invited to be baptized my last day in Cambridge!

Matt, what is this all about? You're a ladies man all of the sudden. That's really strange. Well I guess when I get home you can show me how it's done. (Mom's note: Andy did notice that Matt's letter sounded strange but what he didn't seem to suspect was that Lisa actually wrote the letter for Matt.)

I booked a plane while I was reading this email and I'll be home at 9:00 pm Rocky Mountain time. Be ready with balloons and welcome posters. Also, I would like lots of McDonalds so I can win the Million and not Joey. Haha. (The sad thing about this is that last week on Monday a missionary in my District did go home.) I must say, with it being Monopoly time, that means the Dirty Devil (backpacking trip) is coming up, so that ought to be fun. Matt, I officially appoint you to dunk yourself in my place.

I forgot to mention last time about the new Provo temple, wooohooo! I hope they have the picture of the Savior in there that was saved in the fire. I wonder where people will park to go in though? My city is the first to have two temples, haha.

This past week I have focused on scriptures a lot more. In using scriptures in all the lessons a lot, I see the Spirit that they bring. I hope to gain much more knowledge of the scriptures. This week we will have interviews with President Patch once again. I look forward to getting his input on how I can be better in certain areas.

Tell Heidi that if they buy a house in Arkansas they also have to invent a teleportation machine. Bwahhaha.

Love you, have a great week, I know I will.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

*MIRACLE*

Dear Family,

Answers to your questions:

Question #1: When, where and how did you watch General Conference?

General Conference was great. We watched the Saturday Morning Session live at 5:00 pm on Saturday at a member's home. We watched the Saturday Afternoon Session, the Priesthood Session and the Sunday Morning Session in the Romford Chapel on Sunday. Priesthood was at 10:00 am, Saturday Afternoon Session was at 1:00 pm and the Sunday Morning Session was live at 5:00 pm. I think we watch the last session next week at church or maybe at a member's home.

Question #2: What is the difference between the people in South End compared to Cambridge?

The people in Cambridge probably wouldn't say I talk posh, and the South End think I do. They talk much differently. We can't very well walk around town center past 7ish. The ward is nicer than the ward in Cambridge though. It's a bit more dodgey here.

Question #3: What is your ward or branch like?

It's a ward and it's probably the same size as Cambridge or so. The people are pretty nice. Because of past missionaries they aren't very strict as far as helping the missionaries keep rules.

General Conference was very good. It was the first time ever that I was totally focused the whole time. I took notes from every talk and made one goal for improvement from the 25 so far.

I really enjoyed Elder Callister's talk. He was very bold and it was great. Of course Elder Holland's talk in Priesthood was nice, obviously. President Monson said, "Be ready to stand alone". I liked that. Probably my favorite thing I took away was from Henry B. Eyring. He talked about how a test of spiritual power is how hard we push ourselves physically for a good cause.

My favorite part about Conference was when, during President Monson's talk, an investigator said, "I want to get baptized." *Miracle* I told you about the inactive lady we met and we are teaching her 3 children. This week we watched Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration with them. The next day the mom called and said, "You did something to my son." He ended up changing his religious views on Facebook from not believing into Mormon. He is 16. Then at Conference her 13 year-old daughter said she wanted to baptized. Tonight we will set baptism dates with both of them. It will either be something like October 22 or a week or two after. The youngest daughter hasn't been too involved yet.

The mom - Amanda
16 year-old - Craig
13 year-old - Ashley
11 year-old - not sure

Last week we taught Sunday School and talked about the Word of Wisdom. Fancy that, somehow McDonald's was brought up. A member asked me if I had tried the new 1955 burger and I explained it's not in the missionary budget. Later that night at the Book of Mormon Fireside Amanda said she would get me a 1955 burger and we are going there tonight and she is getting me one!

Things are starting to "look up". My companion expressed a desire to change and be better. Hopefully things take a 180.

I have really enjoyed learning a lot this week. I am so impressed with the power that comes from the leaders of the Church. I hope we can all remember the things that are expected of us and apply what we know. I know that the First presidency and 12 Apostles are called of God. How lucky we are to live in this day.

I am planning to buy a new sd card for my camera so I can just send you the card, if it's not too expensive that is. Unluckily I ordered a couple small copies of the Book of Mormon and a hymn book and it charged me $30 shipping, which I did not notice. Arg. Next week we are going to London for P-day so if you could put some money in my account for travel and maybe some other knick knacks it would be appreciated.

I am getting wide, I weigh about 135 now, gasp. The cook book I am making may take a while but I have made some pictures of my work out routine that Matt can start following to prepare.

Have a great week. I love you,

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

At the Preston Temple with MTC Companion, Elder Hutchings



Candy Finding

Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Mom!

Answers to your questions:

Question #1: What is your new address?

14C Marine Avenue
West Cliff - on - sea
Essex
England S50 7PS

Question #2: How is it that your new companion is only 18 years-old?

I guess for a couple of months they let 18 year-olds go from Brazil, yay...haha.

Question #3: What valuable lesson have you learned this week?

You have to get creative when things are tough, to make it fun. Finding with Elder Siano was hard because we simply haven't got along so well. So we went into the 99p shop and got some candy and did candy finding. That made it more fun. Music is very good as well to have peace.

I got the package, much appreciated. Later today we're going to take some pictures near the beach and what not, so hopefully next week I will send you some. On the beach there's an amusement park as well which I don't know if we can use or not.

Guess what? I have had a few people tell me that I sound posh and not so American. Of course it's skewed because the people over here are the ones that talk very unproper. I think it's just some of the words I use and I am well spoken. I just hope I keep my Cambridge accent and don't pick up the Essex one. Haha. Cheers, bruv.

Haha, doing laundry instead of going out, sounds familiar. (Mom's note: Joey wrote to Andy about what one of his companions did when they should have been out working.) There is always some excuse not to work. Let's just say that our flat is very clean. . . haha. Things are starting to get better. It's a slow process of course, but things are on the rise. Funnily enough, with my first 3 companions I felt like I learned a lot about what it would be like to be married. I think this one is more like what it will be like to have a teenager. Haha.

The best thing that happened this week was that we taught an inactive member (baptized at 15 and not been to church in 20 years) and we also taught her three children, 16 year-old boy, 13 year-old girl, and 11 year-old girl. They will all read the Book of Mormon and pray. The mom and the 13 year-old came to church and a fireside on Evidence of the Book of Mormon. We will teach them Wednesday and watch "Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration". The kids are unbaptized by the way. . . not for long.

In this ward we get fed a lot because the previous missionary spent all his little working time with members. So we have like 5 or 6 dinner appointments this week. Awww. . . I just wanted to work. I love to work and each week there is improvement. This area has huge potential.

In the Book of Mormon Fireside we learned a lot about evidence of the Book of Mormon. Very fascinating. I wish I had more time to look more into that. We'll see if that helps us in teaching people or not. Maybe with some people a little evidence can help. One example of evidence is that there's a temple in Central America. It has different layers from rebuilding it and things and apparently they date the earliest layer to about 600 BC, hmmm, interesting. Another thing is that Native Indians can't grow beards yet they have drawings of people who do and what not. There's a book on it that must be pretty interesting.

Love you guys, have fun being 50.

Elder Larsen

P.S. Mom, there is a lady in the ward here that had a baby die soon after birth and she has trouble with it still. She says that what bothers her most is that she can't raise the child now. She wants to see him now. Everyone tells her that she will see him again but that doesn't do it for her. Maybe you could send me a letter about your experience and I could try to help her.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MTC Days



Pray For the Area of South End

Dear Family,

Answers to your questions:

Question #1: What do you do on Transfer day? Do you spend much time at the mission office?

Transfers we met at the mission office with about 30ish other missionaries, talked with some buddies, and they rush you out of there.

Question #2: What is your new area like?

South End is pretty good so far. We live about a block or two from the sea which looks really nice, someday we need to wake up and take a jog on the beach, yes, I'll take pictures. The Town Center is one big street and there's lots of room to talk which is nice.

Question #3: What have you learned about your new companion?

Let's just say he is 18 years-old, Brazilian, and this is the roughest start to a transfer ever! Haha, don't worry, I won't ever give up. We had a total of 18 hours of work this week and the least I've ever gotten was double that, even when I was super sick.

Mom, I will take pictures of what I eat. The plan is that I take pictures of all my classic missionary meals and send you a cook book like you did me. Also a cook book of all the recipes you sent me that I make. For your Birthday! It may be late because all I've made so far is mashed potatoes. You see, in Cambridge we had a 10 minute lunch and ate dinner at 9:00 pm when we got back to the flat so no time really. Now we take an hour for both. . .

Sample Recipes
Big Mac and Fries: present your bus ticket to worker at McDonalds and give them 2 pounds.

Nutella and Toast: put bread in toaster and "carefully" get the nutella and wipe it on the toast. (Mom's note: One of the recipes I sent him was for peanut butter sandwiches and it featured a picture of his one year-old niece Savannah "carefully" dipping a knife in the jar.)

One Pound Pizza: put it in the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees celsius. Haha. I love you guys.

Please pray for the area of South End that it can be a place of work. Today is once again Zone Meeting with Zone P-day. To be honest, usually I don't like it so much because we can't work for 3 hours on that p-day, but this time it is nice to see some other missionaries, truly to learn from them, and to be lifted up by my new zone leaders.

I know the Church is true, I know it is led by Jesus Christ who atoned for us and therefore knows us personally. Truly I will need to rely on him very much during this time. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, receiving Authority to restore the Church back to the earth. He was led to the Book of Mormon, a volume of Holy Scripture that changes lives, especially my own. As we turn to the scriptures we find hope. Through the new and everlasting covenant we can be sealed to our families for time and all eternity. We come to know of the truth as we sincerely search for it and live the gospel. Every time we are down, if we turn to Jesus Christ, we will be picked up. I have experienced it for myself. I know that these things are true, and that is why I devote my time to my Saviour. Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet and I cannot wait to receive revelation from God in two weeks from the General Authorities. I love my Family.

I was reading the Ensign this week and they have a UK section that has a few pages. They were talking about the 400th anniversary of the bible and something I read really stuck out to me that is evidence of the restoration. When William Tindale was receiving a lot of anger for wanting the bible to be available for all and not distorted he said, "If God spares my life, I shall cause that a plowboy shall know more the scriptures than thou." How true that was. Later in 1820 the plowboy Joseph Smith read James 1:5, asked in faith, and was called to restore the Church on the Earth.

That story strengthened my own testimony of the restoration and will allow me to teach it better to others as well.

I love you guys, I'm a warrior.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knock Knock



Going to a New Home

Dear Family,

Answers to your questions:

Question #1: Have you received our package yet?

I have not, it should be at the office, where I will pick it up tomorrow. Thank you so much.

Question #2: How many stakes are there in your mission?

I believe there are 8 which makes 8 zones in our mission.

Question #3: What is your favorite English food?

I am a big fan of ........ ______ rolls. Take a wild guess. Sausage! If we don't go to McDonalds for lunch, we go to a place called Greggs where I get 1 or 2 sausage rolls. Lately I get 1 sausage roll and 1 sausage, bean, and cheese bake.

I'm goin' out goin' out of Cambridge
I'm goin' out goin' out for good
I'm goin' out goin' out of Cambridge
Goin' to a new Neighborhood
South End on Sea
Is the new place for me
Deep in the sea
Is where I'll be

I jinxed myself, haha, they are shipping me out to South End on Sea. Interestingly enough, that is where Elder Biondi spent his first transfer in the mission before coming here. And Elder Biondi's trainer trained this last transfer and I will be going to his area to follow up train his companion again. Haha.

The work is really starting to pick up in Cambridge, which is a bit hard to leave, but hey, "I'll go where you want me to go". I hear that it's a biking area, that should be pretty fun. It is in an area filled with what are called "chavs", haha, that will be funny. Isn't = in it, water = wah uh, bruv. From totally safe Provo to pretty safe Cambridge to South End. Haha. Wu eva, bruv.

I have grown to love the people of Cambridge, it is going to be hard to leave behind the people I have taught, but they are in good hands. At the end of it all this past 4 1/2 months may be the best time of growth for me in my life. I have had companions from many different places, none of them white. That has given me a love of other cultures (especially Italian food). I can barely remember what home was like back in Provo. Cambridge has been all I know for so long, but I suppose it may be the same.

The new experience of going to a different city will really help me to grow. I am excited to go work with another Brazilian, Elder Biano. That makes 3 companions in a row that have Italian surnames and 3 in a row that that are "lian"s (Brazilian, Italian). To be honest, their culture is much different than Provo culture, which makes it fun sometimes.

Miracle

This past Saturday, we had just finished lunch and were out finding, I really wanted to find someone that would be baptized next transfer. I said a prayer in my heart that we would find someone whose circumstances in life make them ready to receive the gospel.

After 30 minutes of finding, were right in front of Anglia Ruskin University and I stopped a man from India. As we talked, we learned that he is Christian and that something is making him question God a little bit. We sat down and started talking and I asked questions to try and figure out what was going on in his life. It came out that his girlfriend wasn't talking with him for 2 weeks. For some reason his girlfriend just cut everything off, which made him very sad. He hadn't eaten since then. When we stopped him he wasn't actually walking anywhere, he was just walking. As we explained the love that God has for us and that God won't force his girlfriend to get back with him he really felt that we cared about him and accepted the invitation to come to church with us the next day.

To finish the lesson, I said a prayer. I prayed that God would soften the heart of his girlfriend. That night, when I called to arrange how he would get to church, he said that his girlfriend sent him a text and they would meet to talk about it. At church he was fellowshipped by so many members and had a great time. He is so thankful to us for all our help, and is now eating! We'll see what happens from now, but one thing I know is that God does answer prayers.

I love you, all of you, Dad, Mom, Joey, Michelle, Marty, Heidi, Steve, Nunners, Lisa, and Matt. Thank you for being part of my life and helping me to be better. Other missionaries can't believe that I'm kind of a rebel in our family, haha. How great you are.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Preston MTC Scenery



"Want a Tic Tac?"

Dear Family,

Answers to your questions:

Question #1: What have you learned from the missionaries that you go on work-overs with?

The missionaries I am with on work-overs are always the really good ones, AP's, ZL's, and what not. I haven't been on on a work-over with a DL yet, oddly enough. The work-overs with the Zone Leaders always go really well. Especially now with me having younger companions these last couple times, the work-overs help me to make new goals. This last work-over with the Zone Leaders I learned how to make finding much more fun by using candy and things. "Excuse me, sir, want a tic tac?" and so on. Or when we stop someone and TTI (Teach Testify Invite) we get to have a tic tac. Fun stuff.

Question #2: What have you learned about President and Sister Patch?

President and Sister Patch met when they were at the slopes. A bunch of people were going down the mountain and Sister Patch saw the guy way ahead who was wearing a t-shirt and shorts (so I hear) while everyone else was bundled up. A man's man. President Patch always inspires me to keep on being exactly obedient, even though with members and missionaries it's not exactly popular. Sister Patch has said "I love you" to me more times than I can count. Especially my first day in the Mission Office I was getting a little creeped out honestly, but I love it. Sister Patch leaves no doubt that she cares about all the misionaries, especially the new ones.

Question #3: What's a funny experience you've had lately?

We were teaching a guy from Albania that was here studying English. He is a member of parliament in Albania. We really developed a good bond with him. We'll see what happens in the future, we'll stay in touch. So anyways, on his last day here we taught a lesson then he took us to get ice smoothies, had a chat and had to say goodbye. So, I say goodbye and give him a handshake. All the sudden he reels me in and gives me that European 2 cheek kiss thing. I'll tell you that was really creepy. . . haha. . . you know me. My companion doesn't hesitate to tell the members what my face looked like and what not.

Matt, clearly the Larsen genes are superior, they had no chance. (Matt wrote about competing on a ropes course with the teachers at mutual.)

Joey, I agree that Green Lantern was the best, one night I snuck out because I just had to see it. I loved that part when he recharged with the Lantern. Haha. Yes, I have seen ads on the buses my whole mission, X-Men, Green Lantern, Thor, Conan, Harry Pooper, Captain America, and now. . . Spy Kids? Fun stuff, all the good movies come out now. Oh well, it just means we'll have an awesome party in 2 years.

(Joey told Andy about a Missionary Tie that his Elders Quorum passes out for a week at a time and asked for his advice on how to use it well when it's his turn.) Hmm, a missionary tie. Unless you have someone in mind that you know, you could just carry a Book of Mormon in your hand or something. Something I have heard of is wrapping a Book of Mormon in Gold wrapping paper and writing a question of the soul on it and giving it to someone and promise an answer to that question. The #1 rule is just to OYM (open your mouth). Who am I to give you advice, you were a legend.

Grant is married, hah, that's just silly. Seems like the Hall family is growing perty fast now. I guess everyone got scared off when they met me before, but with me gone they don't have to worry.

The students are slowly starting to arrive, most should be here by the end of this week or so. Already this last week we have met with many more Chinese again. My Chinese has become quite weak over time. Now that they arrive, transfers is next week, we'll see if I can stay again. This time I think it is actually quite likely I'll stay luckily. Oops, did I just jinx it?

Today we will probably see if we can go through the colleges and things. I will try to take pictures even though it is completely against my nature.

Yes, Heidi, I am now blind and require to wear nerd glasses. Haha. I have actually thought about wearing those while I find and teach. Being here in Cambridge I think it would work quite well. Pull out my Posh old man English accent while wearing those and people may stop. Maybe wear a sweater underneath my suit as well. "Pardon there, sir" then they'll think, "Wow, I'd better stop, this guy must know what he's talking about." Haha.

I love you guys a lot, hope everything continues to go well across the pond, haha.

Elder Larsen

Monday, August 29, 2011

Elder Larsen, Looking Good




WHAT WILL I EAT?

Dear Family,

Question #1: What came of the three investigators you found last Sunday?

We saw one again and taught her but now she goes back to Italy, another we will see this Wednesday at the church to teach with a member, and the other amounted to nothing.

Question #2: How do you and your companion divide up the work such as approaching people on the street, teaching lessons, etc?

Let's see, we sort of take turns, he is still quite new and learning the language so I stop a few more people on the street. Right now I am letting him teach the lesson and I just cut in to testify or to say something he forgot. Also I usually have him answer the phone and make more calls so that he can learn more. He outdoes me when it comes to dinner. The guy deserves a big hug for all the pasta he cooks me, good stuff. He is learning a lot and I am trying to run the area and teach him as best I can.

Question #3: What is the weather in Cambridge like these days?

The weather is a bit colder and rainier than previously. Elder Biondi wants to buy some winter clothes today. Haha.

Matt, you are totally right, home teaching is something that should not be taken lightly. You will help the people a lot. When you prepare the lesson you should actually make a proper lesson plan and invite them to do something as well. You are going to be the best missionary ever.

Dad, that is terrible that you can't go riding or weight lifting in a while. (Mom's note: Joe had 2 teeth pulled last week.) At least you got a couple good rides in beforehand. I was talking to Elder Biondi about our dirt bikes today, and just imagined riding up the cliff. Not quite as fun as the real thing. Haha.

Mom, I hope you always remember that way across the ocean you have a son who loves you and is thankful for your hard work and dedication to teaching him the gospel and good values. I feel so lucky to have been put in a situation where I have such high standards. I see so many missionaries struggle with obedience and for me, honestly, it's natural. Have a great week!

Lisa, you have a proper job now, that's like $90 a day, good grief. In two days you make as much money as I live off here in the UK. Fine, not really. The flat is 700 pounds, the travel is 66 pounds, and the food etc is 110 pounds, but still, that's a lot. Sometimes I wonder why the church doesn't just shut down this mission and use all the money on other things. Haha. I know why. . . Because it's the best mission in the World! (No doubt. Don't argue about that.) This mission is 2nd to Tokyo for most expensive. The flat that the AP's and a couple other Elders live in costs like 2200 pounds in South Kensington. Good grief. That's like 9 missionaries' money for a month.

Summer is coming to a close. Woohoo. I can't wait for the students to flood in, that will make our teaching so much better. As well as having more student members to teach with us.

Things are going well. Ting Ting was not baptized, oh boy, but she said she will most likely get baptized in 2013 when she goes to the U.S. for school. I hope she can stay strong until then, and after.

Things are going well, this week is going to be crazy. No work-overs all first three weeks (of this transfer), and apparently we will have 3 this week. Don't ever take me away from my companion for 3 days in one week. WHAT WILL I EAT! Oh yeah, I have pizzas in the freezer. I love the work so much, I think could stay with Elder Biondi for a long time.

Matt, tell Mr. Cherry I say hello, and I will send a letter in the mail today for him that you can give him. Mr. Cherry is the best.

Love you!

Elder Larsen









Monday, August 22, 2011

Elder Vitorio, Prasna, Elder Larsen




Open Your Mouth

Dear Family,

Did you know that Joseph Smith was 14 when he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ! And my little brother is now 14! Amazing. Happy birthday! This is a great age to pray and receive a witness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love you, and I can't wait to hear from you on your mission and think of how rubbish I was.

Here are the answers to your questions:

Question #1: Are you fluent in Italian yet?

To be honest I don't ask Elder Biondi too much Italian, because he is learning English and I just want him to focus on that. I suppose I could look in his MTC book to learn though. He taught a lesson yesterday to an Italian girl, in Italian. I understood a lot of what he taught, but that's probably because he taught something that I know front to back. The Restoration. I did, however, understand a decent amout when they were talking about Italy and whatnot.

Question #2: Have you noticed any cultural differences with Elder Biondi?

Well, we get in arguments quite a bit over McDonalds. Being an Italian, he lies to himself, saying that McDonalds is rubbish. Thinks his Italian food is superior. Haha, funny guy. We still go to McDonalds once or twice a week and use the coupon on the back of bus passes. I collect all that I find on the ground. . . 1.99 pounds for a big mac and fries.

Question #3: What advice do you have for Matt as he starts going to Timpview High School?

Well, Tina the fat lard, Timpview is a time to start fresh. As you go to a new high school with many new people, from the first moment you should take a step out of your comfort zone and talk to people. Never let people lower your standards or spend a lot of time with those that bring your standards down. Take seminary seriously. When we find and talk to people on the street, we call it OYMing. To OYM is to Open Your Mouth. It is amazing what it does. Like everything else, practice makes perfect.

This week we had Zone Conference, which is when we meet with 2 zones, the President, and the AP's. Quite amazing. We practiced a lot of things to improve teaching, such as, spirit pause, and asking inspired questions. As a companionship we have already seen our teaching quality increase as we apply the things we learned. I love listening to president talk, the guy is amazing. He inspires me to always be obedient and to continue in working hard and being bold.

Ting Ting, the Chinese girl I talked about, is being taught now. She leaves in about 1 week. I asked president what his opinion was on baptism for her. He said we should invite her to be baptized before she leaves so she can attend a branch in China. Tomorrow is the day we push it as hard as we can to be baptized next Sunday. I am praying so hard that she will. I know she is ready, she's a great investigator. I just hope that she sees that as well.

Right now we are starting to see a small indication of big increase of success. Yesterday, with church and a lot of meetings, we were only able to be out working for about 4 and a half hours. Yet, in that time, we got 3 new investigators. All of them we will see again tomorrow or Wednesday.

Elder Biondi is progressing a lot now, he is much, much more bold now, and stops a good amount of people.

Hopefully today I'll get some time to take pictures in town with the colleges and things to send you.

I love this work, and I cannot believe that I have been out 4 months now. It goes by much too fast. I sent a letter to Elder Sikahema, which he may not get for a long time because they are on vacation, and when his parents get back they'll have to send it to him at BYU. I told him to come for dinner sometime. He can tell you how rubbish I was, and about #1 and #2.

Yes, rubbish is my new favorite word.

Love, Elder Larsen

Monday, August 15, 2011

She Wanted to Be Taught By Elder Larsen and No One Else

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How often do you see your mission president?

About 2 or so times a transfer, not a whole lot, call him on the phone when we have questions and whatnot. President Patch is the best.

Question #2: What have you learned from Elder Bionde and what funny experiences have you had with him?

Elder Bionde is a good worker. He constantly has ideas of how we can find and teach better. We have loads of funny experiences each day, but nothing really funny yet. The funniest is that a hobo that I hadn't seen for 3 weeks, after seeing him every day for a while with Elder Vitorio, found us again. He always tells us, "I'll pray for ya's." So that was a fun thing for Elder Biondi to be introduced to Cambridge.

Question #3: How is your apartment?

Our Flat/Apartment is alright. It's super small, but everything works well. We have heating and good water, all that we need as missionaries.

John's wedding sounds like it was pretty nice. I'm glad that he is finally married. Tell him I expect one child in 9 months and two by the time I get back home. And tell them congratulations for getting married.

Oh summer, funny how it goes by so fast, even for me. Apart from the first week or two of my mission time has gone by so fast. Just a couple months ago I was with the best missionary in the the mission (Elder Sikahema).

This week has been a pretty good week. The best thing that happened is that a Chinese girl who has been involved in the ward my whole time here finally wanted to be taught by the missionaries. She called the lady in charge of YSA and said she wanted to be taught by Elder Larsen and no one else. . . haha. I don't really know why, but maybe because all the other missionaries were pressuring her too much. So we have taught her a couple times and things are going good. She has a good knowledge of the gospel, and her questions imply that she is the type of person who wants to really take it seriously. She goes back to China on the 30th, so we will challenge her this week to be baptized on the 28th.

Continually we are still learning, trying to do all we can to make Cambridge one of the best areas in the mission. It really takes a lot of effort, but that's what we came here for so it's not a big deal.

Right now things are a little bit tough because of summer, no students to teach, and very few member students to teach with us. So we sent a list around in Elders Quorum asking for people to teach with us. Things are on the rise, and we are doing what we can to keep it that way.

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Elders!"

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Are you a Senior Companion now since your new companion has been out even less time than you?

Yes, I am the Senior Companion.

Question #2: What have you learned about your new companion, Elder
Bionde?

He is from Genova, Italy. His mother became a member sometime around 15 to 21 ish and served a mission where she met and baptized his future father. . . sketchy. . . haha. So he has been a member his whole life. He was the president of the YSA Center in Genova, so that should help us as we try to get a center here in Cambridge. He speaks very little English, and unfortunately had a not so good trainer.

Question #3: When transfers come how do you hook up with your new companion?

I went to the Mission Office to get my new companion. Mostly you go to the office unless your companionship is the same.

Ahhh, well today I have little time to write, sorry about that. Crazy things that happened this week were: I gave two blessings, one to a guy recovering in the hospital, and one when I confirmed Prasna from Nepal. That makes my second and third blessings ever.

We are working really hard. Although my companion didn't have the best transfer ever for his first, he still has the desire to work. Thank goodness. I have such a hard time when people want to waste time or be disobedient in any way. Today we had Zone Meeting. It was quite good, we had some good trainings and got to see a lot of other missionaries. The mission just shipped in a whole lot of new rules which doesn't bother me. It will help me keep focused.

One Miracle that happened last week was:

We were walking down Kings Parade finding (Kings Parade is the street with colleges on it so there are many people) when all of the sudden, "Elders!" We turned around and a girl came up to us and started talking with us. Turns out she is a member from a place one hour away and hasn't been to church in a year but wants to come now that she will be living in Cambridge. We gave her our details because she was working. You see, she had run out of work when she saw us. On Sunday she came to church and enjoyed it, and will be living with members here until she finds an apartment to live in. It was fantastic.

Got to go. . .

Love you lots,
Elder Larsen

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm Staying in Cambridge!

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What scripture would you have had on your missionary plaque if our ward still did them?

Alma 29:9 - I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

Question #2: What is President Patch's main strength or focus?

President Patch's main strength, hmm, not exactly sure. Something I have come to know with him is that he puts us where God wants us to be. He calls leaders and companions that help us grow in the best way possible.

Question #3: Have you met any British royalty such as a duke yet?

I haven't met anyone of royalty, what a shame.

Transfers: Oh my days, I thought I was going to leave for sure, but I'm staying in Cambridge! Elder Vitorio heads off to Tendering to be District Leader in another District in our Zone. Elder Bionde from Italy comes here with me, don't know a whole lot about him but he has been out for just 1 transfer.

Baptism: The baptism on Sunday went really well, I feel great about Prasna's future as a member of this church.

It's been a good week. I have to say, I was sure I was leaving Cambridge. I had to force myself not to think too much about what would happen. Now I've got a lot of responsibility. Not only do I have to continue to grow myself, but I have to help a newer missionary grow as well. The great thing about having a young missionary is that he will hopefully be moldable.

Exact obedience is my goal this transfer, along with broadening my abilities. We have so many rules as missionaries because we need blessings, and blessings come with obedience. "There is a law irrevocably decreed. . ." I can't wait to get to know a new person and really bring this area higher.

We got new packets that we are to use in Companionship study for the next 2 transfers, and we also get DVD players to watch Preach My Gospel movies on during Companionship study. It's great to see all the changes that happen to improve missionary work. My focus has to increase even more with so many things to keep going without a senior companion.

Congratulations to Joseph and Olivia on being Married. I expect at least 2 children by the time I get back. Haha. (You could have twins.)

Have fun at the reunions, play some night games, play some card games and board games.

I can't wait to see what transfer 3 has in store. Both 1 and 2 resulted in a totally different person. Strangely enough transfer 2 was much more of a change than I thought it could be. I suppose 3 could be the same.

If you could send me Emma's address that would be great. I have a Portuguese letter for her.

I love you guys.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Six Investigators at Church This Week

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What did you learn at your last Zone Conference?

I learned about how the gospel brings people onto steady ground, and heard testimonies from all the new missionaries in our zone. There are four. Kind of sad, to be honest, I'm not sure any of them really have testimonies yet, but if they work with the right attitude they will.

Question #2: How many kids are there in the average British family?

Umm, not really sure, in our ward probably about 4, but maybe British is one.

Question #3: Have you taught any families?

Nope, that bothers me.

Matt, I nearly burst out laughing here in the library when I read your question. (Mom's note: Don't ask.)

Say hello to Jeff for me too.

Really really good. Still we aren't seeing as much success as I would like, but there is a steady incline in a lot of our work. Six investigators were at church this week, which is fantastic. And I gave a talk, so my companion was left to herd all six investigators. One investigator will be baptized on the 31st. Can't complain, we just need to find more investigators and teach more lessons.

I love being a missionary, we are surrounded by people with so much knowledge. If I ever have a question I can ask my companion, District Leader, Zone Leaders, AP's, President Patch, a million other people. . . It is so great, this last few weeks I have been learning so much from other missionaries.

Transfers are coming up this next week, crazy stuff will happen since 20 new missionaries come for the second transfer in a row. Right when I started writing this letter the office called and got my details to get a driver's license here. . . Maybe I'll move to an area with a car and drive? Don't know.

Mom, clearly my arm is much more muscular than Matt's. Let's be serious now. . . haha. (Mom's note: I had mentioned to him that I briefly thought it was Andy's arm that was suddenly thrust in front of me with a sacrament tray at church, but of course it turned out to be Matt's.)

I'm going to miss my first family reunions ever, crazy stuff. Matt, head up the night games for me, would ya?

Choosing to serve a mission was the best thing I ever did, I just regret I didn't learn more before, make time to study every day.

I give up on sending pictures by email so I will use your CD's and send them to you by mail.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'm Flooding My Brain With Information

Hello Family,

I have to make a confessioin. I have wasted so much time so far on my mission. I feel really bad. I can honestly tell you that 1/3 of my time here I have done absolutely nothing. Haha, get it, because we sleep 8 hours a day. Anyways, I scared you didn't I, Mother? Don't worry, I didn't come here to slack off.

P-day was yesterday, but we had President interviews and interviewed an investigator for baptism so there ended up being no time to email.

A girl called Prasna from Nepal will be baptized on the 31st. The first person I have taught from start to finish. Woohoo! There are a couple other people we are going to push for to be baptized on the 31st as well.

President Patch is great. He really is inspired for us missionaries. One thing I worry about, though, is that he will kick me out of Cambridge after this transfer. You see, there are 20 more missionaries coming in so Elder Vitorio will probably train. That's life though. I'm just going to keep on working as hard as I can.

Here are the answers to your questions:

Question #1: What was most challenging for you this week?

Honestly, the hardest thing is working really hard but seeing not so much success. We work so much and don't teach a whole lot of lessons. I take in all I can when on work-overs so that I can improve the effectiveness of our work. But it is on the rise.

Question #2: What was most rewarding for you this week?

We got more people out to church this week and Prasna is interviewed and ready for baptism.

Question #3: Are there missionaries in your mission that were called to speak in a language other than English?

Elder Vitorio is called as a Portuguese speaking missionary but there is only one area that speaks Portuguese. I don't think anyone is called to any other specific language though. But a lot of areas have lots of different people so any extra language someone knows is very useful.

Here are some British to American translations Joey might be interested in:

Cheers - Thank you
Bruv - Dude
Oh my days! - Oh my gosh!
You alright? - How are you?

Oh Joey, I wish I could talk to you about your mission. Something that made me think of you is when I get annoyed at the way my companions eat. Sometimes the littlest thing can make you so irritated. Ha ha.

This week I have gained a testimony of the power of planning. Yesterday we had a very good planning and I know it will make a huge difference in our effectiveness today.

Also this week, I am taking a look at the things keeping me from being 100% obedient. There are just a couple things I need to put more effort into and change. The challenge comes in when your companion doesn't feel the same way.

Right now my focus is totally on the Cambridge area. I am making a transition from being just a worker to working and doing lots of other things, such as: great planning, keeping up the area book, involving the ward more, and helping less actives. It is really hard to do all those things but, whatever it takes to make Cambridge better I want to do. Right now I'm flooding my brain with information which is useless unless I apply those things. Which I am starting to really do.

Mom and Dad, I'm so glad your cruise went well and I can't believe you saw Mr. Richards. What a guy. (Mom's note: On the cruise we ran into Mr. Richards who is an amazing older man who is a volunteer helper for the Woods teacher at Timpview and since Andy took tons of Woods classes he was quite familiar with him.) Fishing in Alaska - that had to be fun. It's probably a good thing that I wasn't home to go with you because I probably would have beaten up too many grizzlies up in Alaska.

And Pittsburg Lake. . . Matt and Lisa, that is so great that you went there, and with the little ones. Matt, you have to dunk yourself. Dunking yourself is like talking to a stranger - you just have to do it.

I love you all. Have a great week.

Elder Larsen

Monday, July 11, 2011

Usefulness of Knowing Other Languages

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions:

Question #1: Did you get the package with the bag and the small quad?

I got the package. Forget the bag, I just like the Gold Fish. Just kidding, the bag is great, not so bulky, and I don't break my shoulders every day carrying my quad. The pictures are awesome, the Doritos, Twix and the letter are great too.

Question #2: How do you go about learning the languages you want to learn?

I learn Chinese from investigators or just in quick first time lessons, and we teach a girl from Nepal, so I learn a bit from her. (She will be baptized in 2 weeks!) Here in Cambridge there are a lot of Chinese. If only I was fluent then I would be so much more effective. Yet, the little I do know often opens the door. We stopped this Chinese girl and at first she looked a little wierded out then I said a few phrases in Chinese and she was glad to listen.

Question #3: Does England have as many smokers as Spain?

There are more smokers in Cambridge than in Provo, (ha ha) not more than in Spain, but I would guess that England as a whole is similar. Cambridge is less because it's a lot more students and posh people. It's a bit weird to see 15 year-olds smoking all the time.

Things are going well here in Cambridge. In the last while something that has been on my mind is the usefulness of not only knowing other languages but having been to other places. Every time I meet someone from Spain I can talk a little about our trip there. If only I could speak Spanish. Just like with the Chinese girl, knowing about their country opens the door. I think later on in life I will do a lot of traveling and learn a few more languages. Who knows, maybe someday I'll do an apprenticeship in Germany.

Right now things are going pretty well, I am trying to learn as much as I can about what I can do better. We work very hard but I know that our time could be more effective than it has been. I am starting to teach using more scriptures, involving the investigator more, bear frequent testimony, and more companion unity, as in switch off regularly.

(Mom's note: The following is in response to Lisa and Matt expressing excitement at having their parents away for a week.) Yes, life without adult supervision can be interesting. We also end up eating pizza quite regularly without it. I should try pretzel bites though. Without adult supervision though you often have to do work. Weird how that is. You never appreciate not having to cook, clean, work, and what not.

Have a fun time, play some combat, ultimate, night games, and what not. Enjoy the cousins and little ones. Speaking of ultimate, we got to play for Institute last week. Oh man, it felt good to play again. Let's just say you don't mess with the Cambridge Elders when it comes to ultimate.

Hope you have a good time in Alaska, that should be pretty fun. I only wish I was there to show the Grizzlies who the boss is. (Not really though, Cambridge is too fun.)

Elder Larsen

Monday, July 4, 2011

No Weetos For a Month

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How much money do you get each month for expenses?

We get 110 pounds for food and whatnot a month and 66 pounds a transfer for travel.

Question #2: Does England have the same hymn book that we use in the U.S.?

I think the hymn book is the same but they do have God Save the King/Queen, haha.

Question #3: What do you do for dinner usually? Do you eat at members' homes? When you eat at your flat do you have to wait until 9:00 pm?

I have total so far eaten at members' homes 7 or 8 times. We have both elders and sisters in this area. Sisters usually get the benefit of more dinners because they are girls and homes with only a woman can't really feed us. This used to bother me but now I have a love with working so I don't mind much at all. Dinner can sometimes feel like wasted time. We got fed curry (one couple is vegetarian), pizza, and other chicken on rice type things. At the flat I usually have a pizza or chicken or something. We don't have to wait till 9 to eat. In fact we have an hour for lunch and dinner during the day. Rather than doing that, we have a half hour lunch and wait til 9 to eat. We get about 4 pounds a day, not quite even that. Breakfast and dinner don't usually cost much, but if we eat in the city center, it usually costs at least 2 pounds. Don't even ask what happens on p-day and district meeting. We usually end up spending 7 pounds at a buffet or something. Though I do get my money's worth . . . you know I do.

This week was another hard working week. Things are going pretty well. Who would have thought that I, of all people, could ever like to work. Now that the working part is second nature, I need to focus on getting all that I can out of that work. I am focusing on things we can do to get solid investigators, teach with more interaction, and many other things to make our days even more effective.

We have an investigator who was having a hard time with tea so we taught about fasting and did a fast with her. Fasting is quite hard when all you do is walk around all day, which I know made it even more meaningful. I also promised that if she would stop drinking tea I would support her by not eating my Weetos for a month. Easy as it sounds it sure isn't. I have a full box of Weetos, and for a few days that's all I had because we couldn't go shopping, so I basically ate tortilla chips for breakfast.

Another investigator has a hard time giving up tea so we will do something with her as well. Luckily it's kind of my companion's turn, which is extremely fortunate. Nothing has been set up yet, but she is trying to get him to not eat meat for the rest of his mission if she quits tea for her whole life. Anyone who truly knows me knows that would be about the hardest thing I could ever do. I can barely imagine one day without meat. Although, I may find a bad habit I have and quit that to support her.

I'm still learning languages. Right now I am working on Chinese, Nepalese, and Portuguese. I like reading the Book of Mormon verse by verse English to Portuguese.

Happy Birthday, DAD! Even though you said it in the email, I will let you know I remembered. I will celebrate your birthday by working the whole day and teaching people about the gospel. Haha. I will celebrate the 4th by having p-day, doing some food shopping, going around town and whatnot, and hopefully a little time to relax. And of course teach a few lessons later.

Matt, I think it would be best if you just flew over to Cambridge and joined us to make a trio. We would baptize the whole place. You don't even know how much I wish I had done more before I left. Study the scriptures, open your mouth, study Preach My Gospel, preach the gospel, spend time with those you really care about. It's funny to hear you talk about me refusing to go to St. George, I wouldn't refuse now.

About the pictures. . . I will send them next week seeing as I finally can charge my camera again. Have a great 4th, have a good birthday. I know my week will be awesome.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Standard Has Been Raised by Far

Dear Family,

Here are the anwers to your questions.

Question #1: What is your new companion's greatest strength?

That's tough. I'm going to say two. First, he (Elder Vitorio) is always smiling and makes the people we meet smile. Second, he and I do some hard work and go at it all day.

Question #2: How is your British accent coming along? Do you speak to the Brits in their own lingo?

I do not develop any British accent. The only thing that has changed is some of the words I now use, "trousers", "proper", "posh", etc. My British accent is not great when I talk in my own voice to fake it. The only way it sounds good is if I talk posh (like a proper old man).

Question #3: Do you use cell phones in your mission?

We have a cell phone. We can't send texts but can receive them. We are supposed to use about 10 minutes a day on the phone with investigators. Without our mobile we would be much less effective with appointments.

It sounds like things are going well at home, the little ones are growing, you have a bowling team with an awesome name, and church was not too crazy for Matthew, haha, Matthew.

A lot happened this last week, but I thought I would tell you about last Saturday.

Saturday we had 5 or 6 appointments set up, not all were confirmed the night before but I thought that at least 2 would be solid. By the end of the day none of those appointments ended up happening, a drunk gave us a blessing, and a drunk snuck up behind me and yelled in my ear. Terrible, right? Wrong.

We worked from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm with a half hour lunch break. During that time we stopped 10 people who we taught lessons. Step-in lessons count as finding time so at the end of the day our accounted labor was 20 hours.

To put it in perspective, the mission goal is for each companionship to have 40 hours of accounted labor a week. People tell me they think that has to be a record for the mission. Not sure if that's true, but it was the best day of the mission for me and it will influence the rest of my life.

The day started with a great lesson to a girl from Nepal. So far she seems to be a golden investigator.

When you work hard you are blessed. All the appointments dropped and our legs were tired but we kept at it. At 6:00 pm my companion said, "If we get 3 more step-ins and keep finding, we will have 20 hours." To be honest with you, I didn't think there was a chance.

At 8:20 we were making our last stretch through the park back to the flat and we needed one more lesson. I didn't think it would come. Then I stopped a lady, had a chat getting to know her, and sat down to have a lesson. We taught Lesson 1, The Restoration.

After reading Joseph Smith's words about the First Vision, we asked her what she thought. She said, "Beautiful" and expounded on how amazing it is. Later I bore testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

That was the strongest I've felt the spirit probably since I was 17 or so. She is leaving Cambridge on Thursday but we'll see her again and I am sure that in the future she will be baptized.

We couldn't have done what we did without the help of Heavenly Father. It's not just coincidence that we ran into people to teach. Heavenly Father put people in our way that were ready to hear the message of Jesus Christ. The times we are blessed the most are when it's hardest. At 6:00 part of me just wanted to slack off but we didn't and it was a blessing.

The bad thing about that day is that my standard has been raised by far. Now I can't go back. I will work all day all the time. The pure joy of knowing you truly did your best isn't something I have really ever felt before. I know that my potential can't be measured. I know what I'm capable of and the only way to accomplish it is by giving my agency to Heavenly Father.

Elder Larsen