Monday, November 25, 2013

Julemanden Kommer

So, here is what I have learned so far about Christmas in Danmark. What you must know about Danes, is that they LOVE Jule (Christmas)! Christmas has been a topic of conversation in most of our lessons/visits since I got here. 

Within the last few weeks the gågade (basically a walking street with lots of stores and shops all along it) has been lit up with Christmas lights, and this last Saturday Julemand
(Santa) arrived in Aalborg on a boat! We didn't get to see it, but apparently there's a big celebration. 

"Santa is Coming"

And I know that on Christmas, Danish families gather around their Christmas tree, hold hands, and dance around the tree while singing a Christmas song! I'm going to try to learn the song this week. :)

Me with a kebab (the most amazing middle eastern burrito type thing ever, and it's also like a foot and a half long)

(Hannah's mom here) all this talk of Christmas reminded me that I wanted to post up her address - in case you want to send her a Christmas card - she loves Christmas cards! You will need to use an international stamp - they are $1.00 at the post office.

This is the coolest park toy I have ever seen!
 It is like a hamster wheel for humans!
You sit in it, and when you lean back
 (if you lean hard enough) it spins you all
the way around!
Sister Hannah Marie Barrett
Denmark Copenhagen Mission
Borups Alle 128, 1. Tv
2000 Frederiksberg

And, just like every other week, this week has been great! We finally got ahold of a less-active member of our ward whose mom (a really cute older lady in the ward) referred to us, and he said we can come back! 

We made a bunch of no-bake cookies this week and took them to ward members. It was really nice to be able to stop by, leave a quick spiritual thought, and get to know each other a little better! We're trying to build up the relationship with the ward members, because that's how you get the best missionary work done! 
I'm tellin' ya, Danmark has the greatest playgrounds!

One day this week, we took the bus instead of biking because we were going to a smaller town outside of Aalborg. I have to say, I used to dread riding the bus because I wanted to be able to talk to people and share the gospel with someone on the bus ride, but I always got really nervous and too afraid to do it. But this time, I sat next to a lady and had a completely normal conversation, in Danish! It gets easier and easier to talk to people and be brave. Probably because I can actually understand what is being said now. ;)

Yesterday (Sunday) was probably the most exciting day of the week. A less-active woman we have been meeting with finally came back to church, and she was so happy to be there! She brought her two little boys and they really enjoyed it too - they're going to come back next week! 

And remember the couple that we ran into last week on the day of their appointment, but they ended up having to cancel the appointment? They were in church too! It was a great Sacrament Meeting and all of our people that came were really happy. Which means we were really happy!
The bus road & pit of death!
After church, we had an appointment with an investigator who is from Uganda. We invited the Ægtepar to come with us so they picked us up in the car to drive us there! Remember the picture I sent last week of a bus road, and how they have pits of death on them to keep normal cars out? Yeah, we drove on one of those roads. Into a pit of death. 

A tire may or may not have been flattened, and the rim on that tire may or may not have been bent! Ohhhh it was so terrible, but so funny! We're going to be dropping some kind of treat by the Ægtepar's apartment today to say thank you and sorry for the crazy car ride. But we ended up getting to the lesson, and it went really well!

Anyways, sorry, my note is not very exciting this week. But it was a great week! And Christmas is coming, which means even more fun ahead! Plus I should have some really cool pictures to send next week, because today we're going to visit some old Danish churches.
A half eaten kebab and a julebøll (a Christmas pastry).
Can you believe how fast time is going these days though? It's already almost Christmas! It was just the summertime!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Den Gule Cykel (The Yellow Bike)

Today I learned that I can look at my blog!  You are doing an awesome job, mom, if I do say so myself!  (note from Hannah's mom:  I guess that answers the question about if she can see comments - it looks like she can see comments now - on her p-day)

Søster Nuttall and I have been running every morning (go us!) and biking everywhere.  Let me tell ya, from not running or even really walking that much (we bussed a lot) to running every morning and biking, it's been a big change!  I love it though!

The yellow bike!
That's a good place to start my week!  On Tuesday the Ægtepar dropped off the two bikes they had in their basement for us. We fixed them up (the yellow one had a really flat tire) and got out and biking! 

That night we had a REALLY great appointment with a guy who has been an investigator before but wasn't really interested in learning more at that time. He is agnostic, takes things very literally, and is really really funny! Anyways, we had stopped by his apartment a few days earlier and he told us he would love to have us come over for an appointment. The Ægtepar came with us and were really helpful and great to have there. The Spirit was so strong, we could feel it, and he could definitely feel it. 

There were times when we would teach a principle and he would come back with something that made it hard for him to believe what we were teaching, but when we bore testimony he would sit and ponder for a little while, and we could just tell that the Spirit was bringing our message to his heart. We invited him to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon, and yesterday he texted us saying that he had read it and he wanted us to stop by again one evening this week. I don't know what will happen, but Søster Nuttall and I are both really excited about it!

Me standing in a ditch in the middle of the road - it's really smart/funny.  There are certain roads that are for buses only, and this is one of them.  So, to keep cars from driving on the bus roads, they have ditches in the middle of the roads that only buses are wide enough to pass over without getting stuck!

On Wednesday evening we had a couple of appointments and we weren't sure how much travel time we needed in between them, so that morning we decided to bike the whole route (to time it out) and do some stop-bys as we went. With the practice run in the morning, and then doing it again that afternoon, I think we may have biked a whole marathon! 

And whoever said Danmark is flat is a big fat liar. 

But I am so grateful we did it, because one of the investigators we stopped by that morning was sick, so we got to hopefully make her day a little better with our stop by! Around that same time we ran into the husband of an investigator (he is less active and she is investigating the church) who we had an appointment with that night. We talked with him for a few minutes and then went on our way. 

Søster Nuttall & Søster Barrett
Just as we were getting close to home, we realized that our map, which had been on Søster Nuttall's bike, had fallen off! So we turned around to go find it. We didn't find the map, but we did run into the investigator we had the appointment with that night! So we had a great conversation with her too! And it's a good thing that happened, because later that day she called to tell us they had to cancel the appointment because her husband was sick. I was so grateful that we were able to see both of them that day even though our appointment got cancelled - it was definitely no coincidence that we ran into them.

The next day was our big zone conference Thanksgiving activity! (that is a link to her mission blog with photos of the activities - if you scroll down you can see her playing the green ukulele) We played football. We ate lots of food. We had a GREAT training on Christlike Attributes (Can I just say President Sederholm is an amazing guy? He really knows how to follow the Spirit!). 

The tie tying contest at the zone conference talent show

And we had a fun talent show to finish it up! Ældste Crank, our District Leader, finished the talent show by telling a story. He is Native American and brought his story flute with him here! (He's also an internationally ranked hoop dancer, no big deal) It was really cool. And it reminded me of home a little bit!
Another successful facial friday! wooohoo!

Funniest moment of the week: Last night we had an eating appointment and lesson with 2 members and 2 investigators (married couples) at the investigators' house. It was delicious. It was hygge. It was åndelige. I had to go to the bathroom. So I asked the wife if I could use their restroom! Her husband said something like "I hope you aren't afraid of cats!" 

Luckily I'm not, because it turns out they were keeping 3 cats in their bathroom! I have never before gone to the bathroom in the presence of three cats either staring at me or sniffing my toes, and I hope I never do again. I didn't realize it, but when I finished peeing and pulled my tights back up (I know this is a lot of detail but it gets better!) the back of my dress got tucked in too. I washed my hands and tried to get out of the bathroom, but the door was stuck. I spent a solid 5 minutes trying to work my way out of that bathroom! 

really cool hammock swing at a park (sorry! my knees!)
The door finally came loose, I walked out, and made my way back to the dining room, still oblivious to the fact that my rear end was out for the whole world to see. And by whole world I mean the investigators' 17-year-old son and anyone else who happened to look my way while I walked back into the dining room. Luckily one of the members let me know what was going on, but the damage was already done. I will never again be able to look the investigators' son in the eyes again! 

Oh it was so funny, and SO embarrassing. Ah, life! It never gets boring!
It's been a lot of fun this week! There have been some big blessings and great miracles. And, of course, some really embarrassing moments. ;) I love it! I love you all! I hope that everything is going well. I miss you a lot. But I am glad to be here!
If you wear a dress, make sure your tights are up, and your dress is down!  ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Stressful Funny Embarrassing Week

The weeks are going faster and faster, huh? It has been a stressful/funny/embarrassing week. More on that later!

I am doing great! I think! Haha, I don't know. It´s been a tougher week, but not because of my new companion! Søster Nuttall is awesome. She is not trunky (though she will be heading home in a few months!) Can I get a hallelujah? She is just a really really great missionary. She really knows how to listen and speak from the heart. We have had some really good lessons this past week and I am excited for the upcoming week! 

I'm picking up the cute yellow bike from the Ægtepar today (they said they don't need it!) so hopefully it'll be in good condition! Søster Nuttall's bike is coming on Thursday when we have our Zone Activity/Training (she wasn't able to bring it on transfer day).

So. The embarrassing! The stressful! The funny! Transfers went relatively well, Søster Bishop made it to Copenhagen and Søster Nuttall made it here! That night we did a couple of stop bys and got a return appointment with someone! We're meeting with him tomorrow night. 

On Thursday morning before District Meeting we walked to the bus station to fill up our bus pass with money for the month so we could get to District Meeting and an appointment that afternoon. We got all the way to the station and I realized... I had forgotten my wallet! So we started walking back to our apartment so the Ægtepar could pick us up for the meeting since we couldn't bus there. Our District Leader and his companion drove past us on the bus we were supposed to be on - it was pretty funny

So we eventually made it to the meeting, and then we asked the Ægtepar to take us to our appointment as well. We had an appointment with a less-active who lives in Blokhus, which happens to be right on the coast! We didn't know that until we got there, but when we got out of the car I could hear the ocean! We walked up a sand dune to see the sea (haha!) and it was beautiful. I forgot my camera! But we're going to go back on a P-day. :)

Later that afternoon we had an appointment with another less-active. We visit her once a week, so I felt like I knew how to get us there. Not so! We ended up being lost for an hour and a half, and we were within 1 or 2 kilometers of her house the whole dang time! That was REALLY embarrassing. Luckily Søster Nuttall didn't push me off a cliff or anything! We both just laughed about it.

After that things got a lot better. On Friday we had an awesome lesson with a college student who is a 7th-day Adventist - she wanted to know why we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, and we ended up teaching her about the Restoration and giving her a Book of Mormon!

Have I told you about M? M is awesome and you really need to know about him.  M is 15. Last year he became interested in the LDS church because he had heard a lot of things about Mitt Romney. He went online and ended up taking all the lessons, getting a Book of Mormon, reading it, and gaining a testimony that it is true. His parents wouldn't let him come to church though! So he read all of the standard works. And one Sunday he was on the bus with one of our less-actives who was on his way to church, they started talking and M found out he was going to church, so they both just came to church together! Now M comes every week.

He has such a strong testimony and he knows SO much about the church, and he's not even a member yet! But yesterday he brought his aunt to church with him. She is a priest in the Folkekirke. We got to teach her and explain our beliefs (two of the young adults taught with us! They did most of the teaching, and they are awesome!) and it was a really great experience.

So that is a little bit about my week! I also spent 160 kroner (32 dollars) on shampoo and conditioner this week. Just in case you were wondering about how expensive things are here. I did buy the biggest shampoo and conditioner they had, so that I won't have to worry about it for a while, but still. It blows my mind! Mascara is over 20 bucks!

Ahhahaha, one more funny story. So we teach a couple every week who live pretty far out of town, so a married couple in the ward pick us up and take us to it every week. At our lesson a week and a half ago we decided to have our next one on November 17th. Apparently the members thought it was on the 10th! so today at church the husband asked me if it was ok if they picked us up at 6.30 and I thought I had just written the date down wrong, so I said they could come and pick us up. 

We got out to the investigators' house, and they were having a family dinner with their kids and their parents, because last night was a holiday - I think it's called Mortens Aften. Turns out the lesson really wasn't until next Sunday! It was super awkward, but since we had traveled so far to see them (and since Danes are just really really hospitable), they let us stay and we ended up having a really great visit.

Anyways, it's been a crazy but good week! I didn't take any pictures, sorry!! Actually, Søster Nuttall and I did take a picture together but I look terrible and I can't bring myself to post it up. I don't know what's going on (I think it's because I was really stressed at the beginning of this week) but I am breaking out like crazy, my hair looks really bad every day, and I just feel supa dupa awkward! 

Oh well. I'm not here to look amazing, I'm here to preach the gospel! And I don't know if you can tell from the stories, but it definitely has been a stressful week. Not because of our investigators or my new compaion (I'm telling you, I just keep getting amazing companions! It's a blessing!), but I just keep messing up! I felt a lot of pressure to be perfect and I felt like since I've been here 5 weeks, I should know everything there is to know about Aalborg already. But I don't, and it's ok! 

Heavenly Father definitely carried me through this week. There were a couple times where I really wanted to break down and cry. And it was funny, because it seemed like every time I felt like everything was going to fall apart, it would all just work out and Heavenly Father would remind me once again that everything is in His hands, that this work will move onward, and that I am a good missionary, not a failure!

Søster B

Monday, November 4, 2013

Autumn in Aalborg

Basically, there has been a bunch of craziness and excitement and unusual experiences here in Danmark this week! 

On Wednesday we found out that Sister Bishop is being transferred. I am so sad! I'm going to miss her so much! But it's a good thing - she'll be in Copenhagen, and she'll hopefully be able to get some good rest and physical therapy so she won't be in so much pain! Sister Bishop is so tough. 

She has really set an example to me of enduring cheerfully - she is always smiling and happy, even though she has gone through so much. I basically have no excuse ever to slack off on my mission, because Sister Bishop never does! The transfer news came just in time because the next day... Sister Bishop's inner ear started to really hurt. We had an eating appointment that day that lasted really long and the whole time Sister Bishop was fighting what turned out to be a bad ear infection and a fever! 

Afterwards we went on member splits so she could go to the emergency room and I could go to the church to help the Young Women with a musical program they're preparing for (I had to play the piano  - it's been a while. Luckily they don't need me to play for the actual program, so the songs will actually sound pretty! Haha!)

The Young Woman activity was like heaven. Those young women are amazing. They were all so happy and excited to be there! I started getting a little teared up seeing how well they got along and how much of the Spirit they had because it reminded me of you and Sydney and Emily, and the ward in Hawaii. It was super weird knowing I'm only a year older than some of them. ;) One of the girls wrote one of the songs they're singing in the program, and it's really good! They're just a really talented, sweet group.

So, once Sister Bishop and I were reunited (The Middlemases took her to the hospital, they have been so helpful!) she told me about her ear. She had a bad infection and a perforation in her ear drum! 

But we kept on working and plowing through it all as usual, and by the time Saturday night rolled around, the infection had gotten worse instead of better. So late that night, we got permission to go with the Bishop and his wife to the emergency room again to get it checked out again. We didn't get home until 2 in the morning! How's that for the crazy missionary life? 

And on the way home we drove past... Jomfru Anne Gade in all her glory. Jomfru Anne Gade is a street that's famous for it's bars, strip clubs, and all-around partiness! It's the one time on my mission I'll ever be out of the apartment after 10:30, on a Saturday night no less. Woo! That was definitely a fiesta!

Anyways, we got home really late. And the next day we weren't allowed to leave the apartment so  Sister Bishop could rest! It was definitely the weirdest day I've had on my mission so far - we did nothhhhhing but sit around and watch church movies. I felt antsy all day! But it was a really good thing because Sister Bishop was able to rest, and her ear is doing a little better

Some other fun news - we invited two of our investigators (they're married) to be baptized on the 7th of December! They said yes to being baptized but they want to be baptized in the new year when all the Christmas craziness has calmed down. I'm so excited for them! I hope I'm still here when they get baptized.

On Friday we had language study and a lunch appointment with the Bishop's family. Their daughter Anne is 17 and the cutest girl ever! She does language study with us once a week and this week she taught us Danish Christmas songs and had us read her a Christmas story in Danish. It's really nice to have someone to help us with pronunciation and intonation! She is the best! 

We had make-your-own sandwiches for lunch... the Danish way. Which means there was butter, jam, chocolate, cheese, honey, tomatoes, and cucumbers! Don't worry, they weren't all combined on one. There are certain combinations that people put on open-faced sandwiches here, such as butter, jam, and cheese. 

I thought I was doing a good job of following the rules by putting butter, jam, cheese, and chocolate on mine. Uh... no. Turns out not even in Denmark is cheese and chocolate an acceptable combination! Anne and her mom were laughing sooooo hard at me. I was laughing too! It was actually pretty good together though, so maybe I'll just keep doing it. ;)

So that has been our crazy crazy week! And I'm looking forward to another crazy week! I told Dad this in my email to him but I'll just say it again. I'm really glad that all I have to focus on doing is what the Lord asks me to do: serve Him! I know He's going to help me and strengthen me, because He knows what the plan is. 

So even if I get my companion and I totally lost because I still don't know the area that well and we'll be biking instead of taking buses, and even if my Danish is still not that great, Heavenly Father will still be putting people in our path to talk to about the gospel! And we'll all be stronger and better off for it. 

I'm going to miss Sister Bishop so much but... you never know! We might be companions again in the future! And, bonus!! The ward she's going to be in is also Thomas Kofod's ward - as in the actor who plays Jesus in all the church films. I think she really wants to have Christmas dinner with him. ;)

The church is true! Prayers get answered and life is happy!

(But feel free to pray that I survive this week.) :)

And I forgot to say, the interview went really well on Saturday! The guy conducting the interview was Mormon, so it wasn't even scary. :)

I love you all so much! I pray for you every day!


 PS pictures - it's fall! So I took a picture with a leaf! And more leaves! And also a selfie since it was selfie Saturday. ;) 

PPS - I forgot to post a link to the Copenhagen Denmark Mission website.  It has pictures from when new missionaries come to Danmark and at Zone Conference/trainings/etc.  And there's a picture of yours truly if you scroll down in to the October posts!  woohoo!  (there is a picture of me hugging Søster Bishop on the first day we met.  It is very awkward and unattractive.  I apologize!)

The Dejligt Week

So. The dejligt week in a dejligt review. (A little fun fact about den Danske folke - they use the word dejligt all the time! So  if we have a really positive lesson and a member is there, afterwards when we go over how it went they'll say something like "det var dejligt!" (that was delightful)) 

On Monday after we e-mailed we went to the old/original church building here in Aalborg. It's been converted into apartments now, isn't that crazy? 

After we finished p-day, we had language study with the Bishop's daughter, who is super awesome and is thinking about serving a mission! She came with us to a lesson with a less-active who thinks he is no longer a member of the church. But... he still is. So that's awkward! Also, he is slightly in love with Sister Bishop and has proposed to her in the past. We're probably going to give him to the elders to visit from here on out, just to be safe. :) 

But it was a really good lesson about President Uchtdorf's talk in conference, Come, Join With Us. We invited him to come back to church and as we were talking about returning to church, I had a really cool thought! Sometimes people leave the church because they feel like they aren't loved in the ward. But Heavenly Father loves us! And even if it feels like no one else notices, He misses us when we don't come to church.

That's the talk that we shared in all of our less-active appointments this week, and all of our less-actives responded really well to it! President Uchtdorf does a really good job of addressing the fact that we are all human, and we are not perfect. I think that many people who leave the church or struggle with their testimonies do so because they've seen someone in church do something un-Christlike. It's hard when that happens! But no one is perfect! So hopefully in the next few weeks we can bring some of our less-actives back. 

We work with a lot of less-actives and I want you all to know, they are JUST AS important as investigators! And when they come back, it's JUST AS exciting as a baptism. Let's be honest, everything about missionary work is pretty dang exciting!

On Tuesday we went to an appointment with a physical therapist for Sister Bishop, and... he did acupuncture! It was super weird seeing him stick needles into Sister Bishop's leg. I'm not sure how much I buy into acupuncture, and so far it hasn't done much to help her, but we shall see what comes of it! 

That day we also took a bus to an outlying area to visit a less-active who was referred to us by his sister. He wasn't home, but we talked to his wife who isn't a member and she told us to come back when he isn't working! So come back we shall next Monday night. 

While we were out there, and since we don't get to go that far out very often (for clarification - our area is very big and in order to reach some of it, we have to take long bus trips or trains which can be very expensive so we don't get to do it that much!), we did some door-knocking in the area. It was really good! We had some great conversations with people and they were all very nice to us. And since we have a reason to go out there (to visit our less-active!), we can spend some more time knocking and contacting which we feel really good about!

We had a meeting in Fredericia (down in Sydjylland) where all of the new missionaries and their trainers came together to talk about their experiences so far! I SAW SISTER GRANT AND SISTER HALE!!!! Oh it felt like heaven to see them again. It was SO FUN to catch up with each other and see their beautiful faces! They're doing so well! I'm a little jealous because they're both on Sjælland (that's the island where Copenhagen is) and in the same zone as each other so they see each other all the time, but then again I love love love being in Aalborg! 

Seeing Søster Grant and Søster Hale!  (my MTC companions)

At the end of the meeting President Sederholm shared a spiritual thought that really touched my heart. Haha I sound like a Grandma! But it really did get me. He shared the story of Hannah and Samuel from the Old Testament. Hannah hadn't been able to have children, so she prayed to the Lord to have a child and told Him that she would give her child to His service. The Lord blessed her with Samuel! She raised him up until he didn't need her anymore, then she sacrificed her time with him so that he could be the Lord's servant. 

President Sederholm related that to us as missionaries. So you, Mom and Dad, prepared me to be a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ, and when I was ready to go, you sacrificed your time with me so that I could come out here to Danmark and serve the Lord. And now it's my responsibility to serve with all my heart, might, mind and strength. So that I can be like Samuel and, when the Lord calls me, say "Speak, Lord, they servant heareth." I love it! Thank you for being so supportive and willing to send me here.

Ya know, before I came here I was told a lot of negative things about serving a mission in Danmark. That it would be really really hard, and no one would listen to us, and that I would maybe plant seeds but never see anyone actually join the church. It's not true! Serving a mission is only really hard, not really really hard. ;) People do listen to us. Our schedule is full and we have really great investigators. There are baptisms happening all over the mission and this week we're going to commit two of our investigators (a married couple) to baptism with a baptismal date. 

Another really pretty church in downtown Aalborg.

And, I just remembered, this week on either Friday or Saturday our Ward Mission Leader has arranged for Sister Bishop and I to be interviewed by a TV program! Uh... let me just say that any and all prayers would be appreciated because I'm still not actually that great at speaking Danish, much less answering questions about being a missionary in Danish on TV. ;) Good luck to us! 

Mom, I got your package! I love having my winter coat - it's like having a little bit of home. And you TOTALLY read my mind by sending cheez its! I have been missing those delicious crackers so much! I loved it. Thank you so much. Sister Bishop and I are going to do facial Friday with the facials this week! Woo woo!
Cute stone-walled church in an outlying area.

Anyways, it's been a great week and I am getting a lot more comfortable talking with people on the street! I'm getting so much better at seeing my purpose as a missionary and actually doing it. I'm working really hard on following the Spirit and I have seen it working! 

We had a lesson with a less-active on Saturday morning who has a REALLY strong, amazing testimony, but lives really far away from church and up until recently hasn't really had a way to get there. We were talking with her about starting to come to church and I felt a really strong prompting to tell her how much I looked up to her for how strong she has stayed even though she can't go to church, and how much her testimony has helped me. She started crying and gave me a really big hug! It was so surprising and such a great moment! I can't wait until we have our next lesson with her.

About the bike - unfortunately, I mentioned the yellow bike to the ægtepar (senior couple) because it's in their storage unit and I needed to use their key to get it out. They were so excited to hear that they have bikes in their storage unit, that they're going to use them! So... I can't actually take the bike. Desvar. Which means that next week we're going to Bilka (I think it's kind of like Target or Wal Mart) for to buy me a bike! Sister Bishop got hers for 200 dollars so that's kind of what I'll be looking for. Anyways, fun times! I can't wait to be able to actually bike hopefully, when Sister Bishop gets better! :) 

PS don't mind my awkward little self in all the pictures. I'm just not very photogenic, ok?!