Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Baggy Suits and Frozen Face

Dear Family.

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What are the differences between Duston and when you were right in London (Lea Valley)?

In the actual Duston area there aren't many places to do proper street contacting. The place we go is the town center that isn't actually in our area, whereas Lea Valley had loads of places to go to street contact. Duston has a good size ward and many strong priesthood holders, Lea Valley had a smaller ward and very few strong priesthood holders. Duston is mostly British and Lea Valley is mostly African and Pakistani.

Question #2: What will you do if Matt is taller than you when you get  home?

I don't know. You'll just have to wait and find out... I've got secrets of my own. OK, no I don't, I just wanted to get you excited.

Question #3: Do you know what time you'll be able to call us on Christmas day?

I'm not sure exactly what time I would call. We will be at a member's home, so possibly I could call while my companion is on skype.

I still haven't seen the Elder that has the USB with the Book of Mormon video yet. When I see him this Thursday at our Zone Meeting I'll try to get the video and send it to you.

No need to fear, I have all my winter gear. It's funny you mentioned about the guy at the missionary store saying it is better for missionaries to buy clothes in their country to fit in with the style. I and, as far as I know, 3 other missionaries from the Summer 2011 groups are the only ones that haven't bought an English suit. Everyone loves that slim fit style. Personally, I don't see the sense in buying new suits when the ones you have are perfectly fine, even if in this country they are a bit baggy. Haha.

This last week has been really nice. We didn't have any meetings or anything so it was empty of distractions. For a couple of days it was very cold and the other days it wasn't too bad but rainy. I have to laugh at myself sometimes when it's cold, my lips are a bit numb so when I say things I have to either speak really slowly or sound funny. For example, saying, "We usually meet people in the library" can be a very hard thing to say with a frozen face. Town is really great this time of year, there's a couple bands and a few other stands doing really cool things. It does make it difficult to talk to people sometimes with all of the noise and hustle bustle, but people are nicer this time of year as well.

I've been reading Genesis and 1 Nephi this last week, I really enjoy it. Sometimes when I read the Old Testament I laugh. I'm thankful that the Book of Mormon exists for simpletons like me. I still find it really hard to understand why more people don't accept it as the Word of God. I know it's true and, reading it every day, I have a greater portion of the Spirit.

Paul is getting married! I really was a bad luck charm. (Mom's note: Since Andy has been on his mission two of his Larsen cousins have gotten married and six of his Hall cousins have gotten married and two more are engaged.)

Talk to you on Christmas! Our preparation day next week is on Wednesday, so I will email you then.

Elder Larsen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Staying in Duston

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Are people more willing to hear your message with Christmas getting closer?

Hmmm, I suppose they are. So far in December we have had a bit more success in our finding efforts.

Question #2: How did your Zone's Book of Mormon story video turn out?

The video was quite amzing. Out of the 6 they showed, it was a clear cut best film. I was hoping I would be able to send it to you today but we didn't end up having district meeting yesterday so I couldn't get the usb. I will try to get it and send it sometime this transfer.

Question #3: What was a miracle you experienced last week?

Last Sunday we went to the Stake President's home for dinner. He and his wife asked us to find young men because there are 1.5 active young men in our ward (their son and a less active, both 15 years-old). We had the chance to tract for about an hour after that. Before doing so, we prayed to be led to a family with a young man. We knocked a few doors and on our way to the next, we stopped a lady walking her dog. She was previously investigating the church, is interested, and has a 13 year-old son. It was a miracle.

It is a new transfer tomorrow. There aren't any changes with me. I get to stay here in Duston ward for Christmas time. The members of the ward here are so great.

A while back we did service for the neighbor of a member with several members of our ward. Yesterday we were able to teach  her after having lunch with the members. It was really amazing to see the example that good members are to those around them. I hope it goes well. The lady (Joe) has had quite a difficult life. I know that the Gospel will help her. I shared with her the story of Joey snatching me up from the darkness and taking me to the rest of my family in the light. That's exactly what Jesus Christ came to do for us.

We had our Zone Conference last week. It made me laugh when we got invited as a mission to read the Book of Mormon front to back between now and General Conference. I was on page 240... All well, can't hurt to go over it all again. President Jordan sure knows a lot about Church History. I can't wait to learn more about that myself.

Christmas time is a great time of year to be out doing the Lord's work. People's hearts seem to be a bit more open to our message. It is also a very cold time of year, haha.

I saw a picture of Matt with Dave and they appear to be the same height, at least they did back in July. That would mean that he was my height as well. Scary stuff. My little brother is as tall as me, knows scripture mastery better than me....good thing I'm the ultimate ultimate player. Dave also mentioned that Matt is quite the speedy hiker.

Hope you guys continue to have a good Christmas time, I will.

Elder Larsen

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Smile and Set Lots of Appointments

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Who invited you over for Thanksgiving Dinner? Were they Americans?

It was an English family oddly enough. This ward has two amazing Sisters that rotate feeding the missionaries each year. Both are English. We had turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, pie, etc. Very tasty thinking about it, haha. I have one  hour left in my fast.

Question #2: How did your Zone movie on a Book of Mormon story go?

We didn't actually end up doing it last Saturday but we are all meeting today to make one. We'll see what it is. Hopefully I can send it home.

Question #3: What was the spiritual highlight of your week?

We had our monthly zone meeting on Saturday. I prepared a training on Developing the Faith to Find. Part of it was having all the Senior Companions share their best finding miracle of their missions. It was great. We also set a goal for the Zone to smile when we find and to set lots of appointments. Later that day we were in town center talking to people, with huge smiles. I stopped this African couple. At first they started to walk away.
"Where are you from?" I said.
They replied, "Ghana."
Then I said, "A to sain." (How are you in Twii, pardon my spelling.)
The said, "Have you been to Ghana?"
"No, but I've served in London" I said. "Mei ding di Kwaku." (My name is...Kwaku is the name for people born on Wednesday.) "Yey fro sain?" (What's your name?")
They said their names.
Speaking to the man I said, "You remind me of my friend in London but he's 8 (convert in Lea Balley from Ghana). You're just like the 24 year-old version of  him. Are you 24?"
She said, "Yes!"
He said, "Magic."
I said, "When can we see you?"
...we will see them on Friday. All those great miracles and a smile on my face allowed my faith and excitement to grow, therefore the spirit was able to help us find.

Wow, mom, please don't sneak into our apartment. I'm afraid our dishes aren't spic and span either and Elder Klobcic is 26 and still not potty trained...haha. (Mom's note: I had told Andy how Heidi's first reaction to my surprise visit for her birthday was fear that I would see the unwashed dishes in her kitchen. Also, the joke about his companion was because I told him that I potty trained Savannah as part of my birthday visit.)

Matt, I can't believe there are ten teachers. I was still passing the Sacrament when I was 18, in fact I still pass it now most weeks at 20.

The rule on music is now changed, our mission rule is now just as the white handbook reads, which means BYU Vocal Point is approved.

I went on a couple of exchanges this last week and did a 2 hour blitz with another area. It was good fun to be with all fresh misisonaries for about 50 hours straight. The two exchanges were with 2 and a half month old missionaries, haha, and the blitz was with a month old. Everyone we talked to in the street stopped because they were just so cute, haha. The worst part was having to carry them around all day. New missionaries are great, they are a clean slate and just need some good examples and a little push.

The work is going on an upswing right now, I'm really excited.

We have our Zone Conference coming up about the Book of Mormon on Thursday. It's going to be great, especially since I've been plowing through it.

Hope you guys have a great week.

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manual Labor Is Relaxing

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Have you noticed any cultural differences with your companion?

There aren't too many noticeable cultural differences with Elder Klobcic. He has been on his mission for quite some time, so I'm not too sure.

Question #2: What was an amazing experience you had last week?

This week we did service for a part member family in the ward. It was amazing. We lifted up big cement slabs from the ground just behind the house and put a drainage system into the ground. The water from the rain would get water into the house. We did it with a couple of brothers from church. It is very relaxing to go out and do that kind of work every once in a while. (Mom's note: I can't wait til he gets home so I can help him relax.)

Question #3: Is there anything in particular that you want for Christmas?

In a previous meeting with the Mission President, we brought up that we would like to have more music options to listen to. I have good reason to believe that we will be able to listen to a bit more. I'll find out for sure on Saturday. I would like a CD or two. BYU Vocal Point will be approved. I hear that is really good.

This year I had 2 Thanksgiving Dinners. That made up for last year's 0. It was really good.

I can't believe John is having a baby.

Twinkies!!! (Mom's note: This desperate outburst is his response after learning from us that Hostess has gone out of business.)

This has been another great week. We have gone back into the Town Center a bit more. It has been really fun. We get to go around talking to everyone we see. One thing I have grown to love on my mission is the ability to be nice to those who don't really deserve it. I remember at the beginning of my mission people would say something rude or ignore us and I would get so frustrated. Now I just put a big smile on, say something nice, and walk away. It's amazing to experience the blessings of serving a mission. If you would have put me in a busy town center and told me to talk to as many people as possible before my mission, it would have been embarrassing.

Reading through the Book of Mormon (in 59 days) has been going really well. On my mission I have gained a thirst for the scriptures. Today I read through most of Jacob, including Jacob 5. It used to take me days to get through Jacob 5, haha. I heard recently that if you read 7 pages a day you can finish the entire standard works in 1 year. I may make a push to finish the Book of Mormon before the new year and start on that next.

This week we, as a Zone, need to make a slide show or short video about a Book of Mormon story for our upcoming Zone Conference. I'm not sure which story to do. I have one idea to do it like a news channel:

"Welcome to the Book of Mormon Network. My name is the Brother of Jared. Let's start off our episode with Judge Noah."
"Abinadi is pleading his case."
"Now let's go to Enos."
"He's praying!"
"..."
"Enos is still praying!"

It would go from different stories and keep returning to Enos praying as the day goes on. We'll see what we do, but it should be fun.

Hope everything goes well in the U.S.A.

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 19, 2012

Read the Book of Mormon in 59 Days

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Have you had to pay any customs fees on any of the packages we've sent to you?

I've not had to pay any customs fees for anything so far. I'm not sure how the process works.

Question #2: Do you still cut your own hair or do you get it cut professionally?

I get my hair cut professionally, by myself. I do allow a non-pro to trim the back (my companion). Last time, to make sure there was no mess up, I held a comb as a straight edge for him to cut.

Question #3: What did you learn at your Mission Conference last week?

I learned quite a few things. Elder Teixeira gave a great training on how to find out what friends and family investigators have that we could teach by praying for them. Sister Teixeira invited us to read the Book of Mormon in 59 days, the time it took to translate it. I am doing it and right now I'm on page 64 or so. I was very impressed with them, I felt the spirit. When Elder Teixeira spoke, my eyes were glued to him and I listened for spiritual impressions.

This has been quite an eventful week. Mission Conference was amazing, then the next day I had a great exchange with a newer missionary. Being a missionary is filled with amazing experiences. Sometimes I have to stop myself and ponder how amazing it is. I am in England, I am assigned to an area with 30,000 plus people in it to preach about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It makes me feel big and small at the same time.

Roger is still doing well. He is struggling with his health at the moment but keeps pressing on. We have been working with a member that hadn't been to church in quite some time. He came to church yesterday which was great. We're still working to find new people to teach and found a few this last week. One lady had seen a TV program on Mormons. When I stopped her I said, "What do you know about Mormons?" She expressed her interest in learning more about our family values and the Book of Mormon. It is so exciting to be led by the spirit.

Last Saturday evening we were talking to people in the Town Center. We were walking down the high street past a group of teenagers that were having a little fight. As I walked by, one of them was escaping the hit of the other and elbowed me right in the ear. Haha. It was quite funny. I was hoping it would leave a good mark but it's not even noticeable.

That kiosk looks really nice. I hope business picks up. Kids will start getting "board" of their Christmas break and buy "bored" games to play. Joey, I didn't know you would sink so low as to sell Settlers of Catan. Haha. Whether you make millions with that kiosk or not, the experience will be something memorable.


Well, Matt, I am no expert on Isaiah but it is possible that it would be chapter 56 or something. That rings a bell.

That is sad that Sister Shawcroft passed away. It must be really hard for Nelson. I'll keep them in my prayers.

Have a great week,

Elder Larsen




Monday, November 12, 2012

Most Pure Mission

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: You said you worked at the church farm in your area. What do they grow there?

I'm not too sure what they grow in that church farm. We were just breaking stuff. The fields didn't seem to have anything growing in them.

Question #2: Now that you have a car, are you able to stay out of the elements more?

I suppose having a car helps a bit to stay warm although I'm not sure it makes much of a difference. In old areas we had to take a bus to get places which took a lot longer which meant more time out of the weather.

Question #3: What is something funny that happened last week?

Last week we helped the Northampton sister missionaries move. They had someone in their ward coordinating it for them. The day before the move we got a call asking to try to arrange with a Duston ward member for a moving van last minute. Haha. In the end, we and the member with the moving van did all the moving for them. I thought it was quite funny. Duston ward is the greatest.

Amos 3:7 (Mom's note: This is Andy's response to Matt's weekly scripture quiz. The scripture was "Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants, the prophets.")

This was an exciting week. We had our Zone Meeting which went well, went to T.G.I.Fridays, and I got a hair cut.

Teaching Roger has been great so far. He is the investigator with cancer. We gave him a blessing the other day and he will be going into the hospital for a few days this week. His commitment is amazing. He has made some big changes in his life during the short time we have been teaching him. In our tracting this last week we met a few people who knew members. Knowing a member moves someone a bit closer to accepting us as missionaries.

In the most recent meeting we had with President Jordan he talked about improving the personal worthiness of the mission. He told us of a previous mission president of the Manchester Mission. Before his service they had 300 baptisms the previous year. His last year they had 3000. Wow. President Jordan asked him what things he did. The mission president told his missionaries, "We may not be the highest baptizing mission in the church but we can be the most pure mission in the church." As a mission we are trying to become more pure so the spirit can work with us more freely. I am excited to make changes in myself that will help me be a better instrument for Heavenly Father.

This Wednesday we have a Missionary Conference. We will be meeting with 4 other Zones. Elder Teixeira, our Area Authority, will be coming. He has asked us all to study Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel before we go. I am excited to learn more about how the Spirit can come into our work even more. Being a missionary is full of meeting amazing people.

Marty is talking now, huh? Those little ones are not going to be quite as little are they? Being a missionary is funny that way. I like kids so much but I can't really do much with them. For example, if they sit on my lap I have to get them off. Haha.

I hope your "bored" game stand goes well, Joey.

Mom, I'll definitely make an effort to take more pictures to send to you. That will be part of my Purification.

Have a great week. It isn't snow cold here yet.

Elder Larsen

Monday, November 5, 2012

A-Bomb Lives On


But what happened to Mattman?

Church Farm Service Project

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What's the scoop on your new companion?

Elder Klobcic is from Slovenia. He is about 6 foot, he's 26 years old and has a degree in Electrical Engineering. I committed him to have 6 children and he accepted. He is a really funny guy and drives like a wild man...haha, wait for question #3. Don't know much else to say about him. He makes good pasta.

Question #2: Did your Zone change much with transfers?

Other than us, we got a new Elder from Brazil and 2 sisters switched. Not too big of a difference.

Question #3: This week have you, by chance, run over an elderly fellow who was pushing a walker while you were driving your car? If so, is he okay? (We thought we would ask a specific question like yours last week.)

Almost, but no. Although, today when we were driving home from doing service at a church farm, we were pulling onto the freeway and a semi was coming and we were .003 seconds from smashing the back of it or jumping the curb into bushes. Haha.

Matthew Kenneth Larsen, you wore my Super Hero Suit for Halloween!? Must not have fit too well considering the massive size of my muscles.

Matt looks like he's getting tall and staying skinny.

Things here in the UK stay great. This last week we have had some good success in teaching. We are working with a couple of part member families. I really enjoy it because if we can bring them into the gospel it will not only help them but their entire families. It is really funny when we go to the Rugby player's house because they are American. I say, "Can I use the loo?" and then he says, "What?" and I say, "Oh yeah, the bathroom."

Today we had a Zone service project at the Church Farm. It was really fun. They needed some extra help as winter is coming soon. Elder Klobcic and I were the demolishers. We broke down a 5x5 ft little room that came out of the side of the house and sledge hammered a brick wall down. Good times, at least for now. Tomorrow I'll probably wake up to see that my arm has fallen off.

If there are any church farms around, that would be an amazing Eagle project to go with a big group and demolish things.

Elder Wing was in this mission. He went to Timpview. I was in his district for 3 months when I was in Lea Valley. He is quite a funny guy. He likes to ride dirt bikes and wants to go riding after our missions.

Hope  you guys have a great week. I love you.

Elder Larsen


Friday, November 2, 2012

Too Bad I Didn't Get Thrown In Jail

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Did you, by chance, almost go to jail recently?

Yes, actually. How on earth did you know? Haha. So, about 2 weeks ago we were tracting in a village and got stopped by police two times asking who we were and what we were doing because there had been some burglaries in the area. We thought that was a bit odd but continued on thinking not much of it. We only found out yesterday that there had been a rumor spread that we were the thieves because we had been tracting there the day before as well. A friend of some members that lived there told them about it. It was all sorted out by the members in the end. They had agreed not to tell us but we found out anyways. It's too bad I didn't get thrown in jail.

Question #2: It's transfers this coming week, what is happening with you?

I am staying here in Duston. Elder Brownlee is going down to Watford (where the Ensign picture was taken). My new companion will be Elder Klobcic. I think he is from Slovakia or something. I haven't served around him at all so far.

Question #3: What have been some of the highlights of your week?

Well, it has been quite a crazy week. I was on exchanges in other areas on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Last night we had our ward pumpkin party. That was quite fun. The cars were nicely decorated for trunk or treat. This morning we did some service for the next door neighbor of a member. Including us, there were about 10 people from the ward to help at one point. We cut down a tree, pulled weeds, trimmed bushes, and much more. The lady will be coming to church tomorrow for the Primary Program with her daughter and hopefully we can start teaching her.

The reason I write today is that President Jordan has a meeting in Germany next Wednesday (the normal moves day) so, instead of having moves calls on Monday, we had them last night and our P-day is today. I probably should have told you that in my last email but it slipped my mind. (Mom's note: So yes, we were surprised to get his email on Saturday instead of Monday. Sadly, we hadn't written our letters to him yet so he had to come up with his own questions to himself which explains the interesting first question.)

There isn't too much to update you on in our area. I haven't been here almost at all this week. We had a few investigators at the pumpkin party which was great.

It is starting to get real chilly over here. Apparently there is going to be a Siberian frost coming through.

I love being a missionary in this ward, working with the members is great.

Have a great week, I'll have my next P-day a week from next Monday.

Elder Larsen

p.s. Check out the Bible Videos on lds.org. They are amazing.



Monday, October 22, 2012

The Zone


Cow Stomach, Cow Toe, and Chicken Gizzard

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What do you eat when the members feed you?

We get fed Pizza, Pasta, Sandwiches, Roasts, and all sorts.

Question #2: How much do you drive? Do you have a limit?

We are alotted 1500 miles a month.

Question #3: What is the best lesson you taught last week?

We taught Samu the Rugby player this past week. He really opened up. He talked about his religious background and we answered some questions that he has had for ages. He came to church yesterday!

I'm almost positive that an Elder Duncan didn't leave this most recent summer from the England London Mission. How strange. It's the type of name I would remember.

Oh Mom, I feel so badly for you. It must be so hard to wait so long to see Marty. Haha.

We have a flat inspection in the coming week. Do you think you could send Nunners (Savannah) over to clean for us? Unlike her, I'm not a lover of cleaning.

I got a letter from Elder Ashcroft this last week. I'm a bit jealous. He said he's already tried Elk, Deer, and Bear meat. The coolest things I've tried are cow stomach, cow toe and chicken gizzard. It sounds like he's really enjoying his mission.

Matthew, I accept your challenge for an ultimate showdown.

The last week has been great. The work in the Duston ward has really improved in the last couple of weeks. The past week we contacted a referral we got from a member. It was great. She was a Russian lady with a few kids and her husband who almost became a Church of England Priest back in the day. Right now we just teach her. She wants her kids to learn but they aren't keen right now. Hopefully they come to the ward's pumpkin party this week.

In this area we don't really do any street contacting, just tracting and working with members. Lots of other missionaries don't like tracting but I like it a lot and it's successful so far.

I like the people in the Duston ward so much, I think I'll come back and live here some day. The members here are super amazing. They just give and give and give.

I hope everything is going great in the U.S.A.

I love teaching about the Restoration. Have a great week.

Yes, I did get the packages. Thank you for the Twinkies. I'll give out the Zone Perfect bars this week. Thanks.

Elder Larsen

Monday, October 15, 2012

Seriously?


Top Secret Talk

Dear Family,

Question #1: How often do you meet with the missionaries in your Zone?
 
We have Zone meeting once a month, district meetings 3 weeks in a month, we typically just attend the district meeting of the district we are in.

District 1: Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Northampton, and Duston.

District 2: Huntingdon, Kettering, and Bedford.

Both Districts make the Zone.

We used to go on 1 or 2 work-overs with all missionaries in the zone (except sisters), now we only go on 1 with each district leader, and others if there is a necessity.

Question #2: How large of an area does your Zone cover?

I'm not sure the size of our Zone in miles or anything like that, I bet end to end it would take an hour and half to drive across? Something like that. It takes about 35 minutes to get to District meeting in Milton Keynes. Yes Milton Keynes is in our Zone. (Mom's note: We were interested in Milton Keynes because one of our neighbors used to live there and it's near the small town of Deanshanger where some of Andy's Norris ancestors are from.)

Question #3: Now that you work more with the members do they feed you more often?

To be honest I never really wanted to have dinner appointments before we started to do member work. They pass around a dinner list here, although since I've been here they only passed it 1 of the 3 weeks, because they forgot a couple weeks. The week they passed it we had 1 every day, the times they didn't we got 2 or 3. Previously on my mission I probably averaged 1.5 a week.

I'll be honest Matt, I didn't do my scripture mastery, you're an enlightened man for doing so yourself. I think that scripture is in Psalms(58?), don't quote me on it.

Lisa, I think the difference in our two falls was mainly preparation and also water levels. You see I thought it would be smart to take skater shoes to the Dirty Devil that wouldn't stay tied while I was standing completely still. With the combination of muddy shoes, tired legs, and wearing my bag as I went down, it made for a bad fall. My shoes fell totally off, with my socks, and I planted right on my bare feet, sending a jolt up my body ending at my head and then the wall of rock. Not a worry though, my bare feet were so numb I didn't even feel it. Haha, good times. I wish it would have left a nasty scar.

Better a crazy black cow than Paul dry heaving all night. That was scary.

Did Matt take a head picture? Did the rock of the free fall move? Did anyone try any MRE's, or interesting food? (I have got to try an MRE).

I've heard of an Elder Duncan before, he may have left before I got here. (He isn't related to Tim is he?)

The work here is continuing to go well, members are really liking us, and we continue to get a few referrals. Last Saturday we layed down a concrete floor with a member for a part-member family in the ward. Talk about a great Home Teacher. I'll get a picture for you when it dries.

This is an idea for a talk I thought of, it is top secret.

There I was reading a case study of Sister Missionaries who served in the states. One sister was amazing at getting the ward to do missionary work. One example of how she helped them was a talk she gave. It was about her conversion... Her friend invited her to church, she became a member, etc. She said how thankful she was for this friend.
 
I thought, how can I apply this myself? I'm from Provo Utah in a family that has been in the Church for ages.
 
Ahah!
 
"Brothers and Sisters, I want to tell you about the man who baptized me, Joseph Martin. Joseph Martin is the one who invited me to church, he taught me how to pray, he read the Book of Mormon with me. If it weren't for Joseph Martin, I wouldn't even be alive, etc."
 
That is a really shortened version of the talk. Essentially, I make it sound as if I'm a convert and Dad did all these great things being a great member missionary (which he is). Then at the end I say, "Joseph Martin...Larsen is my dad." Then explain the importance of helping your kids be grounded in the gospel and say all of the principles in the talk can apply for their missionary work.
 
Haha, hopefully I get a chance to give that talk one day, it is just hard because the members already know me here. One day.
 
I love this work, Alma 29:9-10 remains to be a great scripture for me. I love being able to commit all my time to serving God. Thanks for all your support.
You're the greatest.
 
Elder Larsen

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Inn at Duston in 1955


Working With Members Has Been Great

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: When were you able to watch General Conference?

-Saturday Morning Session at 5:00 pm on Saturday
-Priesthood Session at 10:00 am on Sunday
-Saturday Afternoon Session on Sunday at 1:00 pm
-Sunday Morning Session at 5:00 pm on Sunday
Haven't watched the last session yet, will have to watch it at a member's home.

Question #2: What do you think of the new policy allowing young men to go on missions at 18 and young women to go at 19?

I think it's great. I imagine the number of Sister missionaries is going to sky rocket.

Question #3: Have you been to or heard of Deanshanger where Grandma Larsen's Norris and Terrell ancestors came from? (It's about 15 miles south of Northampton.)

No, I haven't been to Deanshanger. Our area is Duston which is just barely north of Northampton. It is probably in the Milton Keynes area which is in our District.

Conference sure was great. I have learned to really appreciate it now that I'm a missionary, I hope I always listen with the same intensity  as I do now. I always loved the talks where the Priesthood get rebuked. Elder Christofferson's talk was great. As always Elder Holland's was amazing. I really like the invitation President Monson left to take an inventory of all the blessing you remember in your life. I'll do it.

Just after we finished watching conference, a lady from our ward came up to me to give me a referral. She explained that a man who was a friend of her brother showed up at her door and told her he had cancer and he wanted to be baptized. We dropped by last night just to set an appsointment. His Book of Mormon was on the table, he seems really nice. He does seem to have a smoking problem, but we will help him resolve that.

This past week working with members has been great, again. We had appointments with some members who know the ward really well and got some great insights on who we can help. I sat next to a brother in priesthood and he pointed out members of our ward and told me about each of them. Some members have such a great desire to help us, especially those who are returned missionaries.

Brother Mace served a mission in France, he is married with 2 kids. They are a very nice young family. They have a son who is about 4 and a baby boy.

So this is Dirty Devil week. I don't know if a girl has ever survived it before, we shall see. Matt, if Lisa is in the head picture and not you, I will send you some black pudding to eat. Make sure you get a good head picture, a good mud picture, and fuel up before the back breaker. It sure is cold over here, I hope for your sakes it isn't as cold there.

Matt, I think that scripture is in Isaiah? That was too difficult for my weak mind. See if you can find the scriptures that begin with "In the beginning.."

I know you guys will have a great week.

Elder Larsen

Monday, October 1, 2012

Scripture Cover


Rugby, Phone Call, and Member Work

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Are you a Zone Leader still? If yes, how many missionaries in your Zone?

Yes, 14.

Question #2: What percentage of your ward is English? Are there fewer foreigners in this area?

90% or more are English. A bit different than London.

Question #3: What was the strangest thing that happened to you last week?

We went to a Rugby match.

Matthew, I believe it is Psalms 3:5. (Moms note: Matt quoted a scripture and told Andy to name the reference.)

Joey, I guess if those are the only options, I would choose B. (Mom's note: In Joey's letter he asked Andy, "If a bunch of thieves ran up to you wearing only loin cloths and blood, would you: A. Be afraid or B. Fall down and pray?")

What does Nelson mean that going on a mission doesn't make you automatically perfect? Haha.

Oddly enough, I'm not a big fan of British sausage either. It's still delicious but doesn't compare to the stuff in the States.

The members in this area are amazing. They seem to just give and give and give. We are really making an effort to go tracting around the homes of returned missionary members so we can invite them to come teach with us. I think the ward here has been prepared for us to come and work with them. When I previously read through the thoughts on my setting apart, I always thought, "When are the things about members trusting me, referring friends to me, etc. going to happen?" The answer is now!

Brother Mace was super inspired to call you, Mom. He saved me. I knew your birthday was on September 26th but it didn't cross my mind as I was emailing last week. Although I'm sure half of the things he said were lies or exaggerations. Haha. Happy Birthday! I'll do my best to send some pictures this next week. (Mom's note: The Elders Quorum President in Andy's new ward called to thank me for sending Andy over there on a mission. He was impressed with all Andy had accomplished in just one week in the area. The call just happened to come on my birthday!)

Oh yeah, the Rugby match. So, our investigator Samu, who plays Pro Rugby, offered us tickets to a game. We gave a call to President Jordan to ask if we could go and he said yes! Last Friday night we watched the Northampton Saints play and it was great. Rugby is actually a very interesting sport. The only downside is that we just have to take a couple hours out of our P-day to make up for the work. Haha. which isn't really a downside.

We have been teaching an investigator from China called Orient. He is a really nice guy. He has come to church a few times and is good at reading and praying. Last week he brought his friend Lily to a lesson and we taught her too. It has been a long time since I have taught Chinese people, so it was great. Teaching them is so great.

I can't believe the Dirty Devil is coming up again. I have so many great memories from that campout.

Things are going great here in the Duston ward, I'm excited. I really have enjoyed studying Preach My Gospel this last week, applying it in our work with members has been a great success.

Have a great week.

Elder Larsen

Friday, September 28, 2012

Missionary TP?


Miracle Story

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What is your area in Northampton like compared to being in London?

It's much different, it is fun getting back into the town center finding. In the town center you have people to talk to, out there is barely anyone. London is kind of just one big town center. We get to knock much more, I like it a lot.

Question #2: Does everyone in your area get a car?

All Zone Leaders except the Lea Valley Zone Leaders have a car. Out of the
seven areas in this Zone, three have cars.

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

He was born in England and moved to Canada when he was 3. He's a funny guy and is really good at sharing powerful messages with members.

Tips for contention I have learned on my mission: slow down and think if it really even matters.

Mom, I have something new for you to try making. Its is called "Toad in the Hole." Basically sausages with yorkshire pudding poured over it.

Miracle Story! We were early to a dinner appointment with the Elders Quorum President and his wife so we did a bit of tracting. At about 5:26 we knocked on a door. The lady wasn't interested but when asked, said that a guy across the road might be. We knocked the door at 5:28 (2 minutes before dinnner). He invited us in, we stepped in only to ask if we could come back at 7:00 after dinner, he said yes. We had a great appointment with the members and invited the EQP to come teach with us. It was great! Then at church the Elders Quorum President was sharing it with the other elders. It was great.

I really think the member work in this ward is about to kick off. Speaking of that, I am actually in the Duston area and ward. Recently the elders here had two wards but sisters came in and now they are Northampton and we are Duston.

We teach a guy who plays professional rugby. He is married to a member, he's really cool.

Sorry, my time is cut short a bit today. Have a great week!

Elder Larsen

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mom's Attempt at Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding







They Are Shipping Me Up To Northampton

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Have you ever had bangers and mash?

I think so, I'll have to check in the Tesco (grocery store) here to refresh my memory of what it is. I think it's just sausage with gravy and mashed potatoes, in which case I have had it.

Question #2: What kind of service have you been doing for people?

We cleaned a sister's fridge, ironed, took stuff to the dump, etc.

Question #3: What is the funniest thing that happened last week?

Remember when I told you about getting spit on, rock thrown at, companion swung at, etc? The same man this week ripped the Book of Mormon out of my hand while I was talking to a man on the street and then tried to walk straight into me another day (I dodged). It was funny. Every time I see him I kind of start to laugh. I need to hold it back or I'll have a Joey story.

Matt, a one handed snag? (In ultimate frisbee.) That is pleasing to hear. You better bulk up so Emma can't woman-handle you around. Haha.

Got a call this morning. They are shipping me up to Northampton. My new companion will be Elder Brownley from Canada (born in England). I've served around him recently and it's going to be great.

Replacing me here will be Elder Silva from Brazil which will be great because I seem to be great at finding great Brazilian people but terrible at speaking Portuguese. This past week I had some great conversation with a  Brazilian family of 3, I think I mentioned recently talking to a lady and having her daughter translate, it's the same family. This week they will bring the copies of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese and teach them.

I took a few pictures with some people as I was saying goodbye, I don't have the device to attach it to the compouter now, I may have it later or next week.

The member work here in Lea Valley has really been picking up. The Bishop trusts us a lot. We now teach a missionary preparation class.

I've really loved serving in Lea Valley. It can't quite surpass Cambridge, but I love it a lot.

I was just scrolling over your email and saw "Erik (Lexi's husband)." That just sounds weird.

It should be fun to jump back outside of London. I am excited for the new task. I will also finally be in a car area! My feet will have some rest!

Have a great week. I know the Saviour lives.

Elder Larsen




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road


Faster Pace

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to this week's questions.

Question #1: What do you miss most about Elder Flament now that he is gone?

I miss doing role plays in the morning with him. We would practice teaching every morning with him and it was really fun. We would do different accents and what not.

Question #2: How did your driving test go? Is it hard to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road?

I failed the test. Driving was really quite easy to get used to but I didn't use the mirrors or signal too great. Now that I know what they grade on, I could pass pretty easily.

Question #3: Have you taken any pictures lately? (hint, hint)

No, I will try to take some.

Lisa, of course you should go on the Dirty Devil backpacking trip.

We are transitioning now back to just the two of us without Elder Flament. We are moving back to a faster pace and leave the flat earlier without the new missionary studies. We are trying to do all we can to be led to people who are prepared for the gospel.

The Lea Valley Ward really has a need for leadership. This week we are going to pray for a vision of what we can do to help strengthen the church here. We may end up knocking on doors more, going to different finding spots, etc.

In working more with members recently, we have started to see some success. A sister in the ward that we shared a missionary message with has a daughter who isn't a member that we will teach this week. When we showed up to do service for another sister in the ward last week her friend was there and we are going to try to teach her next time we visit.

Missionary work is so different from normal life. We are not subject to normal problems in life. I love being able to put all my focus on serving the Lord. I always see evidences of the Lord's hand in our work.

I'd really like to hear more about Dad's and Joey's missions. I wonder how they are similar to this one? How did you find people to teach, etc?

I love to read the scriptures. The Book of Mormon and the words of living Prophets really do help me to understand more about Jesus Christ. I love how everything in the Church always traces back to Him.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yorkshire Pudding


Gareth Was Baptized

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What is Yorkshire pudding like?

Yorkshire pudding is kind of a misleading name. I don't really know how to explain it. It is sort of like a roll. It sort of reminds me of scones. You are best off to look online.

Question #2: How did your Zone sports go at Hyde Park last P-day?

I love sports. We played some American football. Quite a funny game to play with Europeans and what have you. Everyone was saying, "Elder Larsen, you should play football at University." It was good to give me a little pride boost, and bad because my body was sore for days.

Question #3: How did Gareth's baptism go?

Gareth's baptism was great! It was quite the funny day though. First we started the day with Zone Leader Council in South Kensington, then we visited a member about a 30 minute bus ride from the church. We were on our way back from the member's to the baptism on track to be about 15 minutes early. The bus went on a diversion, then stopped. We got off because there were police blocking the traffic. There must have been around 100 policemen. We waited for quite a while (with a box of 40 copies of the Book of Mormon...), then they let us through and we got there about 15 minutes late. The baptismal service began at 6:30 and went great. Gareth is a great guy. Elder Fament baptized him and I confirmed him. I know you're wondering what the police were doing. To be honest, I'm not quite sure. Something to do with freedom of speech.

This past week was one of the craziest weeks of my mission, just about every day we had some sort of meeting to be at. One of those weeks where you wish you could just be a normal missionary.

With the emphasis on working with members now, we have had some good experiences. At a member visit (actually, the one before the baptism), we met with 2 brothers and asked them if they had recently had any missionary experiences. One of the brothers had gone to his old flat to pick up post and found that the new family in the flat was from Ghana, just like him. They talked and he found out that the sister had gone to this Church back in Ghana. He acutally called her when he was with us and invited her to church. She wasn't able to come this last Sunday but seems excited to come next time. It was so great to see members were sharing the Gospel.

We have quite a busy week ahead of us. We have loads of member visits and a few investigator visits already scheduled. We are trying to take care of all we have the best we can to qualify for more.

Elder Flamen is going to be shipped off to Ghana on Friday. It will be sad to see him go. He's been great. He is going to teach the MTC teachers there a thing or two.

The payment on my card was for the practical test for my driving license. Tomorrow I will  have 2 hours of practice driving and on Friday I will go to take the test.

I love to stop and think about the work. In the day to day sometimes it can be hard to remember the greatness of this work. I feel so blessed to work in this place where so many great missionaries have walked. I strive to put myself in line with Alma 29:9, "that I may bring some soul to repentance and this is my joy." How blessed I am to have many souls around me making changes in their lives to come closer to Jesus Christ. This is His work.

Elder Larsen

PS I hope Dave fails his interview in Virginia, but I suppose it will give me a good reason to visit the East Coast.







Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Study at Lea Valley Mansion


Yorkshire Puddings

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Do you prefer American food or English food? Certain people here want to know if you eat much fish and chips, head cheese, or blood sausage?

To be honest, I'm not really sure what American food is. Hot dogs? Hamburgers? Those things are famous in America, and I must say perfected there, but not invented there. I enjoy a good gravy-covered roast dinner. They have yorkshire puddings here which we don't, those are nice. I don't have fish and chips much, never heard of head cheese, and hope I never eat that sausage.

Question #2: Have you found that if people actually read the Book of Mormon they are more likely to be converted?

Yes, I haven't had almost anyone who actually read the Book of Mormon not progress.

Question #3: What was the most interesting experience you had finding people this week?

We were walking around talking to people in Tottenham and I saw a lady on a bench with her daughter. I went to talk with her. Turns out she didn't speak English. She spoke Portugese so the whole time we talked her daughter was translating. As the daughter was relaying the things I said, the spirit was quite strong. It was so sweet.

Kai Weser is in the same mission as my friend Nick, one of the guys I went to Skills USA with.

Today we are going to Hyde Park as a Zone to play some sports. I am so excited.

Gareth is interviewed and set to be baptized on Saturday, it's going to be great.

The Book of Mormon is key. Any investigator who reads it, unless they have zero real intent and sincerity, feels the spirit. Silvana said she feels the spirit when she reads it and it helps her be a better mother. It was great that she came to church Sunday. Dency, who was recently baptized, fellowshipped her.

Recently I have come to understand better how weak we are. It was great in Zone Conference when President Jordan ended by saying something like this: "We have learned a lot about skills today and that's important. The most important thing is your testimony..."

I pray for situations in which I can share my testimony with others. The great thing about a testimony is that when you share it, it grows. I know this church is true. Jesus Christ is at the center of my belief. I tremble when I think of what he has done for me. I strive to understand His life and I'm thankful for the tools we have to help us do that.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Happy Trio


American Accent Makes Me Laugh

Dear Family,

Question #1: Do you see and/or teach many Americans?

Don't run into very many Americans in our area. We do teach a man who was inactive but is now coming back. In Wembley we taught a girl who was baptized that was from America. It may be a good thing we don't run into too many, the accent makes me laugh.

Question #2: How does Elder Flament like having two American companions? Are there lots of cultural differences that come up?

Haha, we get to give him a hard time sometimes. There aren't really many cultural differences for us and Elder Flament. Elder Montgomery and I are in many ways more different than Elder Flament and I.

Question #3: What was the spiritual high point of last week?

Last Thursday evening I poured my heart out for a confirmation that this is the Lord's work. The next morning, traveling on the tube to our main finding spot in Tottenham, I prayed for the pure love of Christ. Humility allowed me to pray more sincerely and helped me to rely on the Lord. For the next two hours we were talking to people. We ran into many people who needed to hear the Gospel. Our success was not from our skill but by the Grace of God. I will paraphrase a conversation with one of these people. (Bold for the man, italics for me.) "Are you the Mormons?" "Yep, how do you know the Mormons?" "I used to be one, then I found the truth..." The conversation continued for 2 or 3 more minutes, it concluded with setting an appointment to see him this week. As he walked away he said, "I'm not sure what religion is right, I think it's the Mormons, I think I'll come back to that one." This is the Lord's work.

Silly Joey, do they start calling Priests at 15 now? (Mom's note: Andy wasn't fooled by Joey's attempt to make him think that Matt just turned 16 instead of 15.)

Solomon and Lea are doiong pretty well now. Gareth is on fire, he is 2 weeks away from his baptism. He will be a strength to the ward. He is always making great comments in our Gospel Principles class.

This past week we found a lady from Brazil and we are teaching her. She was taught briefly by missionaries about 9 years ago. She is in the early stages of teaching but it seems like she has been prepared. I am so grateful for the ability to be an instrument in the hands of God. I am starting to understand what Ammon says in Alma 26:12. I really am nothing, but with the help of Heavenly Father, miracles can be done.

Matt, sounds like an amazing week. Activities like those are the ones you will remember years later. If only I could remember the taste of those divine Slackers milkshakes. I read last week in your email that I should party like it was my birthday and meant to reply that you should party because it is your birthday, but I forgot. Not that it was your birthday, but to write it to you.

It's great that you all got your annual father's blessings. Maybe dad can't put his hands on my head, but I do feel strength from him. I also love exercising the Priesthood. I miss passing, preparing, and blessing the sacrament. Although I did get the opportunity to pass yesterday. The idea of something that allows me to bless others is great, doing so has blessed me greatly.

Every time I reach out to my Heavenly Father in desperation, he answers me. I hope that I can master myself in such a way that I can pray with such urgency every time I communicate with Him.

Reflecting on this last week, one thing that sticks out is families. We were able to teach the Brazilian lady, Silvana. She has a daughter and I envision them one day in the Temple. Families are so essential. There is a quote that is something like this, "The Church can never attempt to replace the family, the church is made to strengthen families." Families can be together forever, I always want to be with my own family.

Elder Larsen

P.S. I did get the things from Debby. Tell her thank you for me. Preparation days are so busy I don't get much time to write letters, but I'll try to send  her one.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nice Tan Line

Camera in My Face

Dear Family,

Question #1: What went on with the guy that put a camera in your face during the Olympics?

The guy came up to me and started asking me questions about what we were doing. For example:
Q: Are you going to an event today?
A: Nope.
Q: What are you doing here if you aren't going to an event?
A: We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Q: What sort of things are you teaching?
A: The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Not exactly the kind of thing they would put on TV, but a fun experience.

Question #2: What are the guidelines for texting in your mission?

We use texting for missionary purposes only, we are to always call before texting. I don't believe there is a limit.

Question #3: What has been the hardest thing this week?

A new mission goal is to work with the members a lot more in our work. It's really exciting and I love the idea, it is just quite new. We used to do all the work ourselves. We have been on missions for a while, but Elder Montgomery and I feel like greenies when it comes to member work.

Matt, I used to feel the same way in the summer, wishing people would play more night games, etc. But it's great that you are going on a campout this week. Campouts are great memory makers and a great chance to bond with others and nature. Develop a love for the scriptures. If no one wants to go and do something active, that's a great thing to do. As a missionary, sometimes I wish I had some more free time so I could go in the mountains, study, ponder, pray, and record. Take advantage of the time you have. Buy an extra milkshake at Slackers and enjoy it for me.

I am so pleased to see the power of the spirit in action. This week Solomon brought his partner Lea to a lesson, we are now teaching them both together. They have some hurdles to overcome for baptism, but they are willing to do what is required. This is the Lord's work.

Gareth has 3 weeks until his baptism, he is eager to be baptized, motivated by his family. We were able to teach a pump up lesson in which we watched "Between Heaven and Earth" (a dvd about temples). He has a great desire to go there some day. In the past smoking has been a big problem but he will think of his family and the temple when he is tempted.

I have such a desire for those we teach to be happy. I feel so sad when they give up but I know that sometimes our work is planting seeds. I was asked the other day who I loved most, it really made me think. There are different types of love, I suppose. I love my family so much, but in a different way than investigators. Most of my family I don't have to worry so much about them spiritually. Investigators I am so concerned for their welfare in that way.

I'm glad the wedding went well. To be honest, I totally forgot Lexi was engaged. Good surprise.

I appreciate receiving your emails every week, I am strengthened by you. I am grateful for your examples.

I know that Jesus Christ died for us, I am convinced. I have felt the power of the Atonement in my life. I am sure that only through prayer can we know Spiritual Truth. It is through prayer that I have come to know the truthfulness of the Restoration. The First Vision did occur, it is reality to me. I don't understand why everyone doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon. I know it is true. We knew each other before this life.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

London Olympics Auto


Dency Was Baptized


Staying in Lea Valley

Dear Family,

Question #1: Who is the woman in the white dress in one of the pictures you sent last week?

That is Dency Baptista. We originally taught her and handed her over to the Lea Valley 2 missionaries who baptized her. She is from Peru, great person.

Question #2: How was it seeing Elder Sikahema again?

It was super exciting. I was giving the Zone's numbers to one of the Assistants at the Hyde Park Chapel before the Zone Conference when a head popped through the window of the door. When we saw each other, "Trey" and I both jumped and ran for a big hug. He and his dad (Vai) both spoke at the meeting. It was really inspirational. We got to watch a clip of Vai running for a punt return TD and him beating up Jose Conseco (tell John Brooks to watch that one). It was so great to see Elder Sikahema, he has done loads for me.

Question #3: What kind of impact have the Olympics had on you this week?

Very little impact yet again, we haven't ended up going too close to the main events. We went to the main place for under an hour to see what it is like. It wasn't very busy when we went but I did get some guy to stick a mike and camera in my face.

It has been an eventful past few days, we had Zone Leader Council and Moves calls. Our mission can now use texting and will do 5 hours of member missionary work a week. I will be staying in Lea Valley with Elder Montgomery and Elder Flament. This is going to be an exciting transfer. We hope to get the members more involved in missionary work. We hope to meet with the Stake President soon, the Bishop next Monday, and other members.

This Thursday we have a Zone Meeting, we will be relaying info from Zone Leader Council to the missionaries and training on Goals we have and Preach My Gospel.

We have had great success recently in working with less active members. We have found 4 new people/families to work with. It will give us consistency in our work, as well as strengthen the ward a lot.

Last week we prayed that Elder Flament would find someone for us to teach and went out of the chapel to talk to people. Less than 5 minutes later he brought a Hungarian man into the church. We taught him and he expressed that he was looking for a house so we prayed that he would find one. The next day we saw him and he had the signed contract for his place, he came to the church with a friend, and we will teach him more.

I am so convinced that this is the Lord's work. No matter how hard we work, if we are doing it on our own, we don't see any results. When we work with the Lord, miracles happen left and right. As experienced missionaries sometimes Elder Montgomery and I would rely on ourselves. It's great to see the example of Elder Flament. Stick with the basics. My excitement is at a high.

Enjoy your last bit of summer break.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Wear

I Can't Wait To See My Mission Dad

Dear Family,

Question #1: What difference has the Olympics made the last few days?

It has had a very minor impact on us this past week. Just a few more people in our area from other countries and a few extras at church. We will see what  happens this week.

Question #2: What interesting experiences have you had talking to people who are in London for the Olympics?

I was able to go on an exchange to Stratford the day before the Olympics began. I talked to people from all over the place. It made me scared, there were video cameras all around. I made sure not to pick my nose or anything.

Question #3: You said missionaries in your Zone would be working at the Olympics 2+ days a week. What kind of work?

The missionaries go to Exhibition Road, near the Hyde Park Chapel, and talk to people. They give out mormon.org balloons, have badges for the country they are from, their bags have mormon.org on them with a scan for i-phones, the email program, etc. There will also be many events at the Hyde Park Chapel, and the sister missionaries will be in the Visitor's Center giving tours.

We had a surprise on Friday. We got a call from the office asking if we could be there in an hour to pick up a missionary waiting for a visa. We will be with him for 6 weeks until he goes to the MTC in Ghana for his mission in Sierra Leon. Elder Flament from southwest England is now with us in a trio. He's a great guy. They just tossed him in deep water, haha.

I just looked at the pictures you sent. Abby has huge eyes, Nunners' hair is twice as long as it was, and where on earth was that picture of Nunners with the medals taken? Haha. (Mom's note: In our new kitchen.) Don't even get me started on Marty.

I may be able to answer why you didn't see Elder Sikahema at President Patch's mission homecoming. His father is here doing some things for the Olympics and he is here as well. I haven't seen him yet but we have a Zone Conference today where his father will be speaking! I can't wait to see my mission dad.

The super hero name Masher fits you, Matt. You eat enough mashed potatoes to qualify. As far as your freckles exploding... did you want the cartoon show to be rated G for gross? Haha.

Wow, Joey, if you wouldn't have argued with your companion maybe you wouldn't have found that guy. Maybe I should argue with my companions more. Haha.

Thing are going great, our investigators are doing well, the ward here has been really good in helping us to fellowship them.

This week is going to be so great. Heavenly Father put Elder Fament here for a reason. His faith is so strong. New missionaries aren't deluded with bad habits and they don't have skills to pull them away from the Spirit. It will be a week of Miracles. It will sure start out right with the Zone Conference today. Thanks for everything.

Love,
Elder Larsen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Houses of Parliament

Email Program During the Olympics

Dear Family,

Question #1: What is the email program you mentioned in your last letter?

Since people will be rushing during the Olympics, and will also be from other countries, we will have a program where they text their email to a number or we write it down and send it in for them. When this is done, they will weekly receive an email with a Mormon message and other links.

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

On Saturday I bumped into a lady I had talked to earlier in the week. She was with her two daughters and we invited her to Church. She is from Eritrea (just above Ethiopia). They usually attend a Christian Orthodox church where they speak Tegringya but she wants her children to learn better English. Yesterday she came to church and her kids really liked it. We will see them tomorrow. Eritrea is very small but in our area we  have met quite a few people from there. They are very nice. This month we have had about 5 new investigators from Eritrea.

Question #3: What have you learned from your companion in the last week?

Last week Elder Montgomery focused on the Apostasy and Restoration in his street contacting. I learned a lot from that. When we clearly explain apostasy and restoration people better understand that we are sharing a unique message.

I took a video when the torch went by the Church here in Walthamstow but it's too big to send. I've not taken many pictures since charging the camera but today we'll go to Stratford which is where the Olympic Village is. I will try to take many pictures.

They made a change of plans for the Olympics. Everyone in the Zone will be going to work at the Olympics 2+ days a week except us. Haha. I guess we are worthless since we don't speak any other languages. Luckily, there is a spot in our area that is a 20 minute walk from Stratford that has some Olympic stuff going on as well.

Oh boy, right now, just to the side and slightly behind my head, there is a TV which sounds like Basketball is on. Temptation.

I used to think that Joey, me and Matt were nothing alike at all. Actually we are more alike. Sometimes I look at a picture of me and it looks like Matt.

Perspective now and before my mission is totally different. I used to think there was no such thing as different accents within America (besides New Joysey and Cowboys). Now I have noticed there are lots of different accents. Sometimes I laugh when we talk to Americans.

It has been another great week as a missionary. We have tried street contacting in a few new places. Solomon is still doing great. I don't know if I ever emailed about Gareth. His wife is a member in Hong Kong. He was taught by missionaries there and almost baptized. We bumped into him his first day moving into Tottenham and are now teaching him. He is super good and excited to be baptized.

Have a great week. I love you.

Elder Larsen

Monday, July 23, 2012

President and Sister Jordan

My Mission President Doesn't Look Like Tim Duncan

Dear Family,

Question #1: Have you received our package with the camera battery charger?

Yes, we just got back from the Mission Office with it. Thank you very much.

Question #2: Are you still getting rained on a lot?

Yes, it is still raining. We handle it ok, it's just so unpredictable. About every day last week I would look out the window to see the sun shining and put on a short sleeve shirt then at about 3:00 it would be cold and raining. People are a lot easier to talk to when they don't have rain pounding on their heads.

Question #3: Did you participate in any of the events celebrating the 175th anniversary of the gospel being taught in England?

The day of the anniversary was the dedication of the Hyde Park Chapel which we went to.

Mom, it's funny you say that about President Jordan looking like my role models because just this morning I saw a bit of Grandpa Hall in him. He doesn't quite look like Tim Duncan though, far too short.

Elder Ashcroft.... how exciting. To be honest, I was thinking the same thing. If I'm chilled to the bone here in England, what will toothpick Devin be like in Montana?

I'm not sure where the Gameboy is, Matt, but I'll bet there is a set of scriptures in the house somewhere you can read. I love to read the scriptures and wish I would have read more previous to my mission. Two of my main regrets are lack of scripture study and learning languages.

This morning we had a meeting with President Jordan and a few others about what we will do for the Olympics. The Hyde Park Zone will be having 3-4 companionships every day on Exhibition Road and in Hyde Park. There will be musical firesides at the chapel, a missionary choir in front of the chapel one morning, and another email program.

Solomon came to church and during Priesthood we had people sharing missionary experiences. Solomon came up and shared how after meeting with us he went and shared the Gospel with a homeless man and gave him some food. The next day the guy was clean shaven and looking much better. Members of the ward were surprised when they found out that he wasn't a member. The Ward Mission leader said, "I thought you were a member, man. What a legend!" (In his awesome Welsh accent.)

Just over a week and the Olympics will get going. Who knows how it will affect our work and area.

I'll do my best to make up for the lost time with pictures, the Olympics should make for a few good ones.

Elder Larsen

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's Up There?

Talking to People on the Tubes

Dear Family,

Question #1: What nationality are most of the people that you're teaching now?

We're actually teaching a few people from the Carribean now.

Question #1: Are you seeing any preparations for the Olympics?

Actually, the Olympics haven't really made any impact where we are so far. We are not too far away from the main place (30-45 minutes on the bus) but I think we are just far enough away that it won't affect our area much.

Question #3: Are you missionaries going to be giving service or anything to help with the Olympics?

There is nothing specific yet. It seems like the Mission President will leave it to the Zone and the missionaries to decide what we will do. I assume we may have members invite investigators over to watch with them and think of other things to do.

President Jordan is a mix of Dad and Joey as far as his face goes. He has similar facial features of you both. The hair color of Joey, with the skin of Dad, etc.

I really liked the lesson in Priesthoood about President Smith as well. He moved down along the train sharing the Gospel. I have had a chance to talk to a few people on the tubes. Elder Montgomery is a pro, I need to overcome my fear.

We had the chance to have President Jordan come and teach a lesson with us last Saturday after a Leadership Meeting. President is very inspiring. On the way to our area he was talking to people on the tubes, helping us do some street contacting, and then was very powerful in the teaching process. He would direct the teaching seemingly perfectly. It reminded me of what the Holy Ghost must be like to those that have amazing faith.

It may not be easy to be a warrior but it sure is fulfilling.

We are teaching a man called Solomon from Nigeria. He has truly been prepared by Heavenly Father to hear the message of the Restored Gospel. Early in his life he was Muslim, then all of his siblings converted to Christianity, but he and his mom did not. He said that he was his mother's favorite, and when he decided to change, she did with him. He now has a baptism date for the 18th of August. This will be a great example to his family.

This week during a lesson I received a new insight: Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac, this was in similitude of the sacrifice Heavenly Father would make of His Only Begotten Son. I explained to the investigator that often God will give us a foretaste of major future events and that the vision Stephen had just before he was stoned was a foretaste of the First Vision.

My prayer of protection was successful this week. Nothing scary happened other than talking to people on the tube.

President Jordan is great at inspiring us as missinaries. He has made a big focus on building faith and expecting miracles. My scripture of the week is Joshua 3:5, And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

Have a great week, I will.

Elder Larsen

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Miracle and Persecution

Dear Family,

Question #1: How was the rededication of the Hyde Park Chapel?

It was really good. Three Seventies bore testimonies, the Stake President gave a talk, President Kopishke gave a talk then dedicated the chapel. It was great.

Question #2: Have you met your new mission president yet?

Yes, he arrived on Saturday, he was at the dedication. We also had a Zone Meeting at 5:00 yesterday evening. It was a great 2 hour long meeting. They are great people. On his mission President Jordan was an assistant to President Faust who at the time was equivalent to an Area Seventy. It should be exciting. President Jordan resembles what I imagine Dad and Joey would look like if they were mixed together. His dad was in the Military. Something President Jordan quoted from Elder Eyring was that "missionaries are called more to a Mission President than to a Mission Area."

Question #3: Were both mission presidents there for the rededication of the Hyde Park Chapel?

President and Sister Patch were not there for the rededication.

Miracle- On Saturday we were at the church at 2:35 waiting for an appointment with Joyce that was meant for 2:30. We gave her a call and got no answer so we decided to go to our main finding are. On our way to the tube stop we were talking to people. We stopped a Romanian man who was interested and came to the church for a 25 minute lesson. We then set off again, locking up the church and the gate. Again on our way to the staiton we met a Romanian man (he lived in Spain for 10 years). He was losing his faith due to difficulties in his life. We helped him recognize that meeting us was God reaching out to him. He came to the church and we taught him a lesson. We locked up the chapel. "Third time's the charm, let's see if we can make it to the station." Ten steps away from the station we run into Joyce who was running late and her phone wasn't working properly. We proceeded to teach her. Heavenly Father loves her very much to help us stay near just at the perfect time. The stars aligned themselves.

Persecution- Last Wednesday, I think it was the same guy...swung a punch at Elder Montgomery, whisking his hair as he walked away and threw something at me, missed. Be careful what you pray for.

Guess what Matt, my legs are sore as well!

Are Abby's eyes like Eva's were? (Mom's note: If Eva's were enormous, then, yes.)

You made 22 pizzas at the Hall Reunion? Good thing I wasn't there, I would have had 2 to myself.

Devin leaves for his mission as the reigning champion of the Hallympics. This means I will have to await his return in 2014 to challenge him. By then Matt will probably beat us both.

I think in the coming years the Hall family is going to get very very big. Families are so amazing. Because of two great GRAND parents the world is so much a better place... especially Walsburg.

These coming weeks should be very exciting, there will be lots of things to keep track of. We will be setting new goals for this month, full of meetings, while doing all we can in our own proselyting.

It seems like every day I meet people who speak Spanish. I shrink when I think of the day I will stand before the Judgement Bar of God and be asked why I didn't learn it before my mission.

Things are going great.

Elder Larsen

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Heart's Forever Changed

Dear Family,
Question #1: What advice do you have for Devin and Michael as they get ready to leave on their missions?
Understand that your agency very much affects the agency of those around you, your companion, other missionaries, members, investigators, potential investigators, etc. Commit yourself to Heavenly Father from the beginning. Read the first paragraph on page 4 of the white handbook, "When You Accepted Your Call..." and the "Remember This" page on the back of Preach My Gospel. They will do great.
Question #2: How did the baptisms go on Saturday?
They went very well. The mother and her two children were both baptized and then confirmed on Sunday. They will really strengthen the ward. I love the spirit at baptisms, it is a wonderful chance to see the power of God manifest in that sacred ordinance.
Question #3: Are transfers this week? If so, how does it affect you?
Yes, this is transfers. Elder Birberg will be going home to Sweden, I will stay with Elder Montgomery here. Lea Valley 2 will open up again and it will have missionaries from Switzerland and South Africa.
Indeed, studying the Character of Christ is a lifetime pursuit. Even more so, at least for me, will be gaining that Character myself.
I was pondering the other day about the Savior and I came up with this quote, "He is the price that I can't pay." It sounds nice but I'm not sure if it is doctrinally correct. Maybe you can help me, Dad.
I read Romans 14:21 this last wee. It is a great scripture for the Word of Wisdom.
Yes, finally I have gotten around to getting a British driver's license. I took the Theory test, now I need to take 3 hours of driving with an instructor and take the Practical.
Sounds like it is a busy summer. I can't believe Michael already gave his farewell talk. The reunion already! Back in Hidden Springs. Matt, maybe you can get chased by crazy cows again. Catch a frog for me.
Yesterday was a great memorable missionary day. I got spit on (it was great because on Sunday I prayed that I could be persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ), I ran into a guy just returning from Hong Kong that was almost baptized there, and then I ate some cow stomach and toes.
The Mission President switch will be happening this weekend as well as the rededication of the Hyde Park Chapel. That will make for a hectic week. We also have to prepare for Zone Meeting and make new Zone goals. Sometimes life as a missionary seems really busy but I'm just thankful that I don't have to worry about things like money, food, school, and all those other things that come with normal life.
The other day I was pondering my mission and a really good song from EFY was playing; it explains very well my thoughts thus far on my mission. "Sitting in this moment, I'm feelings things I've never felt before, my heart is beating in my chest, and I can't hold back my emotions anymore, and it's sweeter than I ever imagined. My faith is taking root, now that I've tasted the truth, my heart's forever changed, and I'll never be the same...It's written on my soul." That isn't exactly how it goes, but something like that. If you want to listen to it, it is Track 3 on EFY 2012.
Have a great week at the reunion. I love you.
Elder Larsen

Saturday, June 23, 2012

No Small Miracles

Dear Family,

Question #1: Does England have Father's Day?

Yes, it was yesterday as well.

Question #2: What is the scariest thing that happened to you last week?

It was a pretty lack of scary week. The scariest was when we were watching "The Testaments" and the bad buys were plotting to overthrow the government.

Question #3: What small miracles did you see last week?

Hmmm, we didn't really see any small miracles, I'll have to give you some big ones. President Patch interviewed 2 investigators for baptism and they are ready. The other two younger ones were also interviewed by another missionary and are ready to go. Yesterday a lady showed up at church that we talked to about 2 weeks ago.

Happy Father's Day Dad! Whenever I hear a motorcycle I remember speeding up the cliffs with you.

I think I should stay on a mission forever... everyone had such trouble getting married when I was home... I wonder why.

The kitchen looks just a wee bit different.

This week has been good. It was a missionary-packed Sunday. Elder Birberg and Elder Montgomery both gave talks, then I taught Gospel Principles because the teacher didn't show up. The ward is very excited about the missionary work. Lots of them will be coming to the baptisms on Saturday.

This morning we taught a man from Vietnam. He is a really nice guy, we won't see him for a while now because he is busy but we will see him in a week or two.

Right now we are teaching people from Ghana, Peru, Portugal, Brazil, Uganda, Pakistan, China, Lithuania, and Romania. No one from England, haha.

Wow, Matt has an adam's apple.

I am always amazed at all the things there are to learn in the Gospel. Lately I have been studying the testimony of John and looking out for the character of Christ. When he raised up Lazarus he says, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me... I say this not because I didn't know thou hearest me, but so those around me may believe" (along those lines) John 11:41-42 or so. He was always looking for opportunities to help others develop faith.

I hope everything goes well with all you have going on this week. I am excited to go out and do the Lord's work.

Elder Larsen

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Queen?

He Planted One On My Right Cheek

Dear Family,

Question #1: You mentioned you have been teaching some South Americans. How can they afford to live in expensive London? Do they have good jobs?

They have pretty good jobs, yes. In fact, Denci has been looking for a job since meeting with us the first time and she recently got a job to be a sushi chef in central London.

Question #2: Do you mostly do street contacting? Do you sometimes knock on doors?

Honestly, we mainly stand in front of the church and invite people to come have a tour and hear a short message. In London knocking on doors is pretty rare, there are always people to talk to on the street.

Question #3: What was your best meal of the week?

I was on a work-over in Hyde Park and we went to a Chinese Buffet. This was a very delicious meal.

I have once heard that story of the old lady who had to have the missionaries read her patriarchal blessing to her because she was nearly blind but had somehow been blessed to be able to read the Book of Mormon. It was an amazing talk.

Yesterday, on the Sabbath, we were walking down the road talking to people and I stopped a man. I talked to the man and he started bashing the Bible, etc. I ended the conversation, then he said, "I think you're a good person, and you are good looking, I want to kiss you." Then bam, he planted one on my right cheek. I smelled booze on his breath. I had been praying for a smack in the face... but not like that. (Don't worry, I wasn't reallly praying to be punched in the face, it just makes for a better story.)

Matt, I'm sure Youth Conference will be great.

Sounds like the house is giong to be turned upside down.

Today we had a Zone Meeting in Hyde Park. President and Sister Patch arranged it so they could give some departing words. It was just great to start the week that way. I am really pumped up to go do the work. Right now I am forcing my mind into denial about them leaving.

Things are going just great here in Lea Valley. We had a really good appointment with Denci yesterday helping her to be confident about her baptism. It can be really hard to make a change like that, family, friends, life-style, it must be a difficult transition. As a missionary I can be narrow minded and think, "None of that matters, just get baptized." When I put myself in the investigators shoes, I realize it would be a very difficult decision for me.

We have had another spell of rain for about the last week or two. Hopefully we get some of that sunshine again.

Have a great week.

Elder Larsen

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Eating Chili Like Joey

Rely on the Lord

Dear Family,

Question #1: What do you do to motivate the missionaries in your Zone?

The missionaries in the Hyde Park Zone are great, they are taught correct principles and they govern themselves. The mission has many different goals that we help them to apply and accomplish.

Question #2: How many people are there in the Lea Valley Ward?

The ward has around 110 people or so, less than 10 youth, 5% British.

Question #3: What teaching experiences did you have last week?

We were able to take an investigator from Peru called Denci Baptista to the home of a Colombian member family. We had a good meal and the family shared their testimony of the gospel. She was touched. Denci is really solid and later helped us teach a man from Chile that speaks little English. She gave her testimony of the Book of Mormon. She will be baptized on the 23rd.

We have a mother and her 2 sons now that are very solid investigators also being baptized on the 23rd.

Thank you, Grandma Larsen, for your great faith and prayers.

Zone Conference was great, we were able to listen to President Patch, have a training from the Assistants and hear the departing testimonies of the giants of the mission. It really hit me during the meeting how much we need to rely on and trust the Lord. As to my strength, I am weak.

Again as a mission we will study the Character of Christ. I have found so much strength and change as I do this study. His character really amazes me. I find it so satisfying to be able to eminate that character as a missionary.

I really enjoy serving the Lord. I have realized how weak I am. I don't know very much but my foundation is strong. I hope that I can improve, I hope I can give the Lord the only thing that is really mine. I hope I can do as He did. I pray that I may act as if the Saviour were standing beside me. I hope I can be the missionary my mom thinks I am.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lea Valley Mansion Kitchen

Zone Leader

Dear Family,

Question #1: What are your responsibilities as a Zone Leader? (You were secretive and didn't tell us but President Patch wrote to us.)

Hmmm, it must have been a mistake. If I was Zone leader, I would go on work-overs with all the missionaries in the Zone, report the numbers and how the missionaries are doing to the Assistants, set goals to help the Zone improve, work with the Stake, and so forth.

Question #2: Is the Hyde Park Chapel in your area?

Nope, but we often go down there for work-overs, meetings, and p-days.

Question #3: What approach are you using these days?

What I say often changes, I like to mix it up so it doesn't get routine. This past week I have been asking people what their favorite food is and asking them why Jesus Christ was widely rejected.

Oh no, you're letting Matt sleep in my room? Only if he wears my Tim Duncan jersey and roots the Spurs on for their games. Haha.

Matt, I think if your super power is to have your freckles explode that would be amazing. Just make sure when I am watching the show I have an empty stomach.

Today we are going to Hyde Park to play some ultimate frisbee!

Dad, whenever I see big motorcycles riding down the road I imagine us cruising up those mountains.

Things are going really well here in Lea Valley. I had my first Lea Valley Ward Sacrament Meeting since I have been back, it was great. I was able to see some old faces and the ward seems really excited with us missionaries.

Having three missionaries is great because we can really divide our focuses to make sure to get the best results. For example, this week I will be in charge of getting members involved in the work, Elder Birberg will confirm all our appointments before we see them, and Elder Montgomery will be doing the Area Book and inviting people to church.

This week we should be doing some splits with members of the ward, that way we can get more things done and make use of our trio.

It is really exciting to be with these great missionaries, we really build each other up. Elder Birberg has just 4 weeks left and is keeping up well.


This Wednesday is Zone Conference, this will be very great. I am always excited for these wonderful meetings. President Patch is always very inspiring. This will also be his last Zone Conference. Lots of the missionaries who were the young missionaries when I came in will also give their departing testimonies.

Thanks be to God. Have a great week, I love you.

Elder Larsen