Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fainting Spell

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Did you receive Grandma Larsen's Christmas letter and or your package from us yet?

Yes, I got her letter. It was great to receive it, I should finally have time this week to send a letter back to her. I also got the package upon switching back from our Assistant exchange. If I was the crying type, I would have cried when I opened up to see my mom's scriptures. They are amazing. They are a bit thinner and lighter than the newer compacts. I have enjoyed marking them and I'm not sure I can give them up to Matt. (Mom's note: Since they no longer make the kind of compact quad he wanted I sent mine which I hadn't marked much and I covered my name with a little plaque that said Elder Larsen. I was hoping he didn't mind that it was burgandy.)

Question #2: How long has your companion been on his mission?

Five months. He served in Dover before this.

Question #3: Now that you're in the middle of London and there are so many busy streets where you can find people, how do you choose what streets or areas to go to each day?

We do a lot on the road that the church is on and also on a road called Seven Sisters in Tottenham. Our area has the longest market in London which I thought was cool at first, but there is no space to talk to people there. We have appointments at the church so often we are more in that area.

Wow, Dad, Elder Holland touched you? Never wash that jacket again. That is so amazing. (Mom's note: we went to funeral that Elder Holland spoke at.) A bit of a random thought, but a member was telling us about a patriarch who knew Elder Holland as a missionary. The patriarch told a story of how he was at the London Temple ground for the laying of the cornerstone. It had rained the previous night so the hole was filled with water. They prayed for the water to empty and the water rushed up to the top and flowed out the sides.

This week we made huge improvements, we went from teaching 6 lessons to 14. That was nice. Obedience and Hard Work, and things happen. One investigator is great and wants to be baptized but he works on Sundays so we need to sort that out. It can be quite funny to be in an area with Zone Leaders. We both just came in and started from scratch and here they are teaching 25 lessons a week. Haha.

Last week we had a pretty scary lesson. We taught that 16 year-old and all the sudden she fainted, then fainted again shortly after and we decided to ride the bus with her home. Then she decided to walk home instead and began to walk off. We went to walk after her and she fainted again.... Eventually we got a bus and took her home. Scary night. I'm not a fan of being around when people faint. Haha. I guess she has epileptic fits. Don't worry though, she seems to be ok now and came to church.

I love being a missionary. On Wednesday is interviews with President Patch and I am going to ask him about extending. Apparently it is very difficult. In reply to another missionary he said he would see what he could do if his parents got him a visa.

Well, this keyboard and computer are frustrating so I will now send some pictures.

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

P.S. Well, sadly the camera cannot hook up to this computer... so I guess I'll send next week or send the sd card... sorry. Boy does Matt have stick legs, huh. Haha. Those Dirty Devil pictures were amazing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ello Chaps

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What have you learned about your new companion, Elder Hansen?

My companion is from Sandy, Utah. He is a bigger chap, probably about 6 foot, 200 lbs. Joey, why need a strong companion when you're a gorilla yourself. Haha. So far we get along so great. To be honest, it's nice to have someone from my same state and culture. He is a good guy. We have some major laughs and do some great work.

Question #2: Who did you meet at church on Sunday? Hint: the man from Orem who called us to let us know what an amazing missionary you are.

Church was quite good, we got to meet a lot of people. Probably 60% of the ward are African and there are more Americans in this ward than in both of my last wards put together (don't think Southend had any). That guy was there at church early and we talked to him whilst waiting for investigators. He is a bishop in Orem. It was great to talk to him and he said he wanted to call our moms to tell them he met us.

Question #3: What is your impression of central London after your first few days there?

London has 6 zones, zone 1 is in the center, our area is in zones 2 and 3, so I guess it's not totally central. We did have a Zone P-day in London and did a sort of scavenger hunt game. We briefly saw Big Ben, London Eye, Trafalga Square, and a few other things. I was misinformed, my area does not have Hackney, so sad. It is so great to be able to walk in so many different places to find people rather than up and down the same high streets, haha. Funny, in our area we probably talk to literally 5 British people a day and most are Eastern European, Indian, Pakistani, and African. I love it.

Matt, I am so proud of you for bearing your testimony. As a misionary the chance to frequently bear testimony is something I cherish. Just like our muscles, it grows when we use it. President Patch recently said to the mission as a whole, "You are the best missionaries yet because you are standing on the shoulders of giants." It will be the same when you are a missionary.

This area is so great, we have one investigator that was left by the previous missionaries. We met him and set a date for baptism on the 18th of February. His name is Kingsley, he is a great guy and wants to be baptized, the only problem is work. He wasn't able to come to church this week because he was scheduled to work.

Another investigator we're working with came to church and was fellowshipped by the Young Women very well. We will teach her Wednesday with 2 young women and a Priesthood holder.

The ward here seems to be pretty good with missionary work. I am excited to meet with the Bishop and the Ward Mission Leader to set goals and see what we can do to make it even better. I think we will bring up the idea of having a missionary tie like Joey once emailed me about. (Joey's Elders Quorum gives out a tie to one of the Elders each week and they are supposed to seek out missionary opportunities and share their experiences with the quorum the next week.)

The flat that we're in is the biggest in the mission, they call it the Lee Valley Mansion. It has 3 floors, 3 bathrooms, washer, dryer, dishwasher, 2 study rooms, dining room, and a giant dinner table. We live in the flat with the Zone Leaders and it is so amazing. We even have a backyard that is full of junk.

Recently I have been studying the Psalms and Proverbs, they are amazing to read. Psalms is so much about Trust and Proverbs about Wisdom. Once again it is a great example of the importance of attitude. David is being chased around by his enemies yet never loses trust in the Lord. I always find it astounding that someone may have seemingly little worldly possessions and may be much happier than a rich man. Sometimes we have so much but are never satisfied.

This transfer we have President Interviews and Zone Conference. I can't wait.

Tonight I will start a work-over with an Assistant, Elder Hansen and Elder Paramalingam will go to South Kensington and 2 of the 3 Assistants will come here with us. Hopefully Elder Hansen can bring my package which I assume is there now.

Love you guys a lot. I am uplifted by your prayers and need them.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Farewell, Southend-On-Sea

I'm Moving to Central London

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: What is your daily exercise routine?

20-30 ab wheels, 30+ push ups, sometimes use a stretch band. It's going to get way better soon though! Elder Paramalingam is a monster at exercising in the morning. He does 10 standing ab wheels. I have only done 1 ever.

Question #2: Have you received the package with your new scriptures yet?

Nope, but I'll be in London tomorrow. If they are there I will get them. I can't wait to mark them real nice.

Question #3: Is it transfer week and if so how are you affected?

Yes, it is. I am affected in that I am moving to Central London. The area is called Lee Valley. In the area is a place called Hackney, apparently the most dodgey place in London. Haha. Lee Valley is a very African area which is great because that (Africa) is where I wanted to serve originally. I will be white-washing most of the area with Elder Hansen. All I know about him is that he is from Utah. Finally! Haha. Supposedly the missionaries who have been in Lee Valley were not hard workers so we've got to bring in new blood. My favorite part about the area is that we live in a flat with the Zone Leaders who also serve in Lee Valley... sort of. Possibly my favorite Elder, Elder Paramalingam is one of the Zone Leaders, the other is the one who trained Elder Biondi and Elder Siano and was in Southend before me. Should be interesting. Haha. If I don't email next week it's because I was in Hackney and got killed. Haha. Hackney is supposed to be a very scary place.

Matt, did you just tell me to envision myself being a missionary who didn't work so someone couldn't receive the saving ordinance of baptism? How dare you? Haha. Yes, mother, I started using sheets. Haha. Wow, I have only seen Marty for 1/4 of his life. That seems weird.

It was another really good week, we taught 22 lessons this time. Now that it gets really good I'm gone. Haha. Elder Mahendran will get a companion called Elder Celius who probably will play basketball for BYU after his mission. They have great things ahead, Alex will be baptized on the 4th of February and Joe probably in mid February.

It is great to look back on the good memories of this area, it was hard work, but great. Some of the members of this ward I want to stay in contact with after my mission. I will miss the Podevins as well. But we have a plan with them. After my mission is over, I get to visit you guys for 3 days then come back to their cellar to live, where I will get free McDonalds every day.

Check this crazy process out. Provo -----> Cambridge -----> Southend -----> Hackney. Haha. At least they didn't just toss me into boiling water, they just slowly turned the heat up. From totally safe to 80% safe to 60% safe to 30% safe. Haha. Good thing I've bulked up to a whopping 131 lbs. In most areas you have a town center to go finding in and if you go out of it there aren't many people, now I will be in London where the whole place is a town center. Haha.

Matt, I have gained a powerful testimony of Obedience and Dilligence through experience. I am convinced that all commandments are for our benefit and that doing the little things makes a big difference. At times we think, "Oh I don't need to read this one day", or "Meh, so what if this friend tells bad jokes." Satan slowly lures us into doing small things which eventually turn big. Basically like the example of tossing a frog into water that is boiling vs. starting cold and slowly heating up to a boil. We have to hold strong, we have to grasp the iron rod with all we've got not just with the tips of our fingers.

Love you guys,

Elder Larsen

P.S. Would it be possible to get some pictures from the Dirty Devil... uh oh, I just felt guilty writing that. I haven't sent pictures in a long while. Oops, I'll do it next time. Tehe.

Monday, January 9, 2012

20 Lessons!

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: Why were you soaking wet when you wrote us last week?

Walking from District Meeting in Grays it was sending it down.

Question #2: Does Elder Mahendran do any German or Sri Lankan cooking for you?

No. Haha.

Question #3: Has the work improved now that the holiday is over?

Yes! As far as Total Lessons taught, last week was our best week since I've been in Southend. We taught 20 lessons and got 5 new investigators. Next week we need to put emphasis on setting dates for baptism with these people and getting them to Church. The new year has come in with a bang.

This past week was pretty good. A few highlights were: interviewing an 11 year-old for baptism, teaching a lot, and it's not been too cold.

One of the most amazing things that happened this week was that we were planning for the coming day and we really wanted to teach but we had lots of finding. Having faith, we wrote down in our planners that we would find someone and teach them a lesson at both 12:30 and 2:00. Finding people and sitting down with them is very difficult. Yet, at 12:45 and 2:15 we found people. We taught them lessons and we saw them both again 2 days later. The only limit to God's power is faith.

Setting goals with a fellow District Leader and Zone Leaders previously was a great experience. At the time we made them, I thought that they were going to be good. But when I took and applied those things, immediately we saw amazing things happening. Last week we applied the goal "welfare of the consecrated" where Elder Mahendran and I started the day with personal vocal prayers dedicating the day to Heavenly Father. Amazing things happen.

I have been loving my study of the scriptures, nothing gets lost when you have the fulness of the Gospel. I have been looking a bit into Isaiah and it is really good. I especially like Isaiah 29 which prophesiesof the Book of Mormon.

People have been more open during this early part of the year and are more willing to listen and act. I just pray that more people will continue to change for the New Year, the best goal they can make is to be baptized.

The amount of time to be a missionary seems too short, there is so much to learn and become yet so little time. I was asking my Zone Leader if it's possible to extend and he says he tried and got a no... maybe I'm special? Haha. I think I could be a missionary all my life, except for the fact that I want to raise 10 monster missionaries of my own. I can't wait to see the missionaries in 20 years that make us all look foolish.

I got a package from the Robertsons. Make sure you tell them thank you for me.

Mom, I have been thinking about scriptures and I really want to have a very well organized set of them. For some reason I am not able to order anything from lds.org. If you could send me a compact quad without any thumb things that would be fantastic. Also, if there is a name on it please put Elder Larsen so I can pass it on to Matt and people don't find out my secret identity, haha. I plan on using little sticker dots for every point in the Preach My Gospel lessons that will show on the sides of the pages, in so doing the thumb things get in the way and make it look ugly. I'm not positive if they have any with no thumb things at all but hopefully so.

Elder Larsen

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year

Dear Family,

Here are the answers to your questions.

Question #1: How do the British celebrate New Year's?

Drink a bit, and a bit more, and a bit more. Haha. They have fireworks in London which is a big deal, other than that pretty similar to the U.S.

Question #2: What new ways have you used to find people?

Ummm... I guess I have just been trying out new approaches. A couple I used recently are,"Who is your hero?" and "What is your vision of a perfect world?"

Question #3: Did you get our package?

Yep, I'm wearing the tie right now, used the toothbrush and ate most of the Snickers and Twix.

Right now I am soaking wet. I love the new motto of the Romford Zone (the zone I'm in), We Choose to Be Happy. This past Saturday we had a meeting for our Zone, with me, the other district leader and the zone leaders. It was great. We talked about what we can do to improve the mission work here in the Zone.

We set a few goals but one thing is that we want everyone to be more happy about this great work. It is a happy work indeed! One of my favorite points that we made was that everyone will have a Change Agent to help them reach their vision of 2012.

We set 5 goals and have someone else in the zone follow up with us and coach us to do them. I have some areas I want to improve and have set goals for each of them. Here they are:

Wisdom: Memorize 2 scriptures every day.
Love: Never bad talk anyone, good talk them.
Humility: Cut the word I out of my vocabualry unless testifying or writing.
Refinement: Have better posture.
Preparation: Prepare lesson outlines for all Lessons.

I can't wait to see what Heavenly Father will do with me this year as I give Him my will for the entire year.

Last Thursday I remember sitting in an appointment that just wasn't going the way I wanted it to, my soul was in deep distress. I said a very heartfelt prayer asking Heavenly father for help with the work. A couple of hours later we got a call from a former investigator from 2010. We later taught him that day and will continue to teach him. I know that God answers prayers, I have not had any heartfelt sincere prayer unanswered.

Now that the Holiday is over, investigators will be more free, so we will see a good increase in teaching. I can't wait to improve our finding. We did some brainstorming on how to make it better and came to the conclusion that we need to bring the Spirit more into the entire process.

From now on when we plan we are going to pray for where we need to find, how many people we will find, who to find, what to say, and put in every effort to reach the goals we set. If we are going through the day and it doesn't look like we will accomplish our goals, we will say a prayer and ask what we need to do to reach them. I can't wait to apply all that we talked about because I know that it will make a world of difference.

Happy New Year! It is going to be a great one for all my time will be given to Heavenly Father!

Elder Larsen