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 - #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


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