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.

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


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