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