Monday, December 30, 2013

A Hyggeligt Juleaften

(this week's letter from Hannah is a little harder to use as a blog post.  Usually she separates family news from blog news, you know?  I think I'll just post up the whole thing and you can read it all...)

Being able to talk to the amazing Barrett familie on Christmas with skype was AMA-ZA-ZING! Thank you for that. :) And I'm so grateful we got to spend so much time together! I'm grateful for a stinkin' awesome Mission President who has mercy on us poor missionaries and let us take the time that we need. Thanks for not crying, too! If you had cried, I would've cried for sure. ;)

I know that being able to skype you on Christmas made my whole week! Month! Year!! Everyone was so happy and I just felt so loved! Thanks for being so supportive of me and also for being missionaries yourselves! You're awesome!!!

We had some really great miracles on the 24th and 25th.  We had an appointment with Henrik and Inga - Henrik is less active and Inga is investigating the church.  Inga told us she knows the Book of Mormon is true.  She told us she knows she wants to be baptized, she's just not sure when.

They both opened up to us about how Christmas is kind of sad for them because they miss their kids and Henrik's mom died around this time 2 years ago. It was so good to read Luke 2 with them and feel the peace and comfort of the Savior. 

That night we had a really hyggeligt Juleaften with the Klitgaards and the Christiansens.  They are both really cute couples, and they have the sweetest daughters who are all really good friends! Søster Nuttall and I danced around the house with them to Christmas music before dinner, and after dinner we all held hands around the Christmas tree and sang songs! They even gave us really sweet gifts - a handmade Christmas tree decoration, homemade pajama pants, and scarves. it was so sweet!! It was just a really great evening. 

(hyggeligt Juleaften = cozy Christmas Eve.  While googling that, I found that you can search Instagram to see photos tagged as hyggeligt, and the photos were, in fact, cozy! - more about hygge at the end)

On the 25th we went to follow up with a man that Søster Bishop and Søster Hadley contacted, and he told us to come back again the next day. He asked for a Frelsesplan pamphlet because he wants to read it and see how he feels about it. 

We met a lot of new people and really enjoyed the spirit of Christmas and sharing it with others. Then we went to Henrik and Inga's again to skype, and it was so fun to share that with them! Mom, Henrik said I look like you, which I thought was pretty dang awesome! :)

Thank you for the awesome gifts! The bag is perfect. I can fit everything in it! I look like a real sister missionary now, too. ;) And Søster Nuttall and I have been using our scripture study guides, they are aaaaawesome! It's a really great way to organize thoughts, and I have been needing a better study journal lately! You are an inspired gift giver. :D

I will write to you next year! ;) Love you lots!

ps - I just sent the big email but I forgot a fun fun story! Yesterday was Søster Nuttalls birthday. The ward planned a surprise party for her after church!! It was awesome, and then at the end they cinnamon'd her. Apparently it's a tradition that if you turn 25 and are single, you get cinnamon dumped on you! And if you make it to 30 single, it's pepper... so... better get married! I'm going to try to send the pictures that Elder Crank sent to me of it - I hope it works!  (it didn't work.  The photos didn't come through for me.)

pps - This computer is really slow sorry!! There is a very stinky man at the computer next to me. He kind of looks like that one muppet who has a big mustache and no mouth. Is that a real muppet? Am I making it up? Either way, it's funny!!

ppps - While googling hyggeligt Juleaften I found this on Wikipedia, and I thought you might like it:  "One of the fundamental aspects of Danish culture is "hygge", a concept closely related to "coziness"; relaxing with good friends or loved ones, often while enjoying good food and something to drink or creating a more friendly atmosphere by lighting a few candles. Christmas time, when loved ones sit close together on a cold rainy night, is a true moment of hygge." 

pppps - I posted a few more photos of the Skype chat at my blog: Rapid Life.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Glædelig Lille Julaften

So I don't have a ton of time today, but on Wednesday we will be skyping around 3 or 4 in the afternoon here! What is your skype account name? I need to know that so I can skype ya! :)))

This week has been crazy crazy. 

It started off with my bike completely breaking down (I tried to fix it and squished my finger between the chain and the gear!). 

It was crappy to begin with and when it broke down I had a little breakdown (I said something to Søster Nuttall like  "I'm not riding it again even if we figure out how to fix it!) 

So we went to a bike shop and I found a really good used one for 750 crowns! 

...A few days later, it broke down too. But I think we can fix it! I know we can actually! And it REALLY needed to be cleaned, so I'm glad we needed to take it apart. I think the last owner dumped the whole back half of the bike in a bucket of grease, no joke. 

The next day we went on splits with the Sister Training Leaders in Horsens. That morning Søster Nuttall and I went out to go on a run. I didn't see that there was a step in front of me, and I fell and sprained my ankle! 

It hurt sooooo bad, and it was pretty embarrassing. It's feeling a lot better today, but let me tell ya, I think Heavenly Father was carrying me 'cause I'm not sure how I walked around on my own that day.
Anywayas I am sorry this is so short, but I just know I'll get to tell you everything about my life on skype this week so I gotta save all the good stuff! :)) I love you lots. 

I love you lots!
PS pictures from the bike repair fiesta, and my swollen ankle! woo!

PPS  Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Week Until Christmas

My week has been good!  It's actually not that cold here. I haven't even been wearing my coat, just a jacket! Apparently this is the warmest winter they've had in a while, and we haven't had a bit of snow! But I think if it snowed, we would take the bus instead of riding bikes until the roads cleared off. 

And... transfers! This week is transfers and...We're both staying here!! Søster Nuttall is finishing her mission here in Aalborg. And then I will get a new companion, ahhh! I'm going to miss Søster Nuttall so much. She's the best.
Min kammerat og jeg
Last night we got to travel up to Frederikshavn and sing in their Christmas concert! It was so cute. We sang with the ward's choir, and the choir director also directs an old person choir in the community, so they sang too. It. was. the. best. Picture 8 or 9 half-deaf old Danish men blasting Christmas songs at the top of their lungs, and then 20 or 30 old women doing the same thing. Oh it was so sweet and fun to hear!
This week we went and visited one of our investigators and baked vaniljekranse with her! They're a kind of cookie. They're really, really good. And fun to make! You have to shape the dough in what kind of looks like a meat grinder or a play-dough shaper thing, then cut it into pieces and hook the ends together to make a circle. She also fed us ris' a la mande... heaven! My favorite Christmas food!

At Jensens Bøfhus at a district activity  
On Thursday we went up to Frederikshavn to practice for the choir concert, and just at the end of our train ride this man sitting across from Søster Nuttall and I, out of the blue, asked "are you Christians?"
And on Friday night we were asked by a less-active woman to come help move her daughter into a new apartment... it was an awesome missionary moment! Her daughter (who I think is 18 or 19) had a bunch of friends over to help too, and they all asked us questions about the church, what we believe, and why we would come and help someone move for free (maybe I should add that her new apartment was on the very top floor of a six-story apartment... go us!). 

At Jensens Bøfhus - Great Steak!

One of her friends was this really cute 18-year-old girl whose questions were very genuine.  We got to hear our testimonies about why the church means so much to us, and we gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet.  The Elders also invited her to a church open house/tour we're doing on Tuesday this week, and I really hope she comes!!!

Elder Crank's Hoop Dance
Ahhhh ok Mom I will come back and finish this email! We just got a call from on of our members, who just got reactivated and she isn't having a good day and she asked us to come over. So we're going up to visit her, and when we're done we'll come back for our last hour of emailing. I love you!!! I will talk to you soon!

Ok! I am back! And it's so dark outside, bleh! It's ok - only 5 more days, and then it will start getting lighter again! ;) And did you get the package I sent?  And Sister Hansen from the office (a senior missionary) called today and said I have a lot of mail and a package at the office so... woohoo! Hopefully I get them soon! :)

Anyways, thank you thank you thank you! I love you so much! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Juletræs Fest

So, this week... WE GOT CHRISTMAS PACKAGES!!!!! From you and from the Kinoshitas! Thank you thank you thank you all, it was the best! 

We opened the packages (I know, it's not Christmas yet, but we couldn't resist!), but not the stockings or the Christmas Eve present. It was so fun! And so lovely to eat reese's peanut butter cups and the peanut butter Auntie Heather sent me. That was like heaven on earth. ;) 

There's a high chance either Søster Nuttall will transfer next week or we'll get a third companion, so we'll probably open the stockings and pajamas the night before transfers! But thank you, and thank you from Søster Nuttall as well. 

I think our favorite thing has been the scripture Christmas calendar, it's so fun to finish planning at night by reading a scripture about Christ. I am focusing so much more on Christ this year than any Christmas before! It's because I'm a missionary I know, but I want to focus on Christ like this for the rest of my life! He really is our friend and Savior. I know that more than ever now.
The same day we got the Christmas packages was also our Christmas Zone Conference (that link takes you to a Mission blog with photos from the zone conference. Scroll through the photos and see if you can find Søster Barrett - I saw her twice - she is silly!) and Præsident Sederholm challenged us to spend Christmas working rather than use the time to relax and hang out. Christmas is a terrible time to be out knocking doors or contacting (because everyone is hanging out with their families and want nothing to do with us) but we're being creative right now and finding things we can do! 

The last few nights we have been out with the Elders caroling to ward members and investigators. It's freezing cold, but really fun and people seem to like it! And Christmas just seems to make everyone happier and more open to talking about Christ, which is awesome.

On Saturday we went to the ward Christmas party! Also known as the Juletræs Fest! It was the. best. One of the married couples we are teaching came dressed as Juleman and Nissemor! (Santa and Mrs. Claus!) It was SO EXCITING to have them there and to see them get to know the ward members better and just fit right in! 

I learned about some more Danish Christmas traditions too. We danced around the Christmas tree and sang Christmas songs! Usually everyone holds hands around the Christmas tree and sings, but since there were so many people there we just all walked around.  (Hannah's mom here, I found a youtube video of a family dancing around their tree - cute!  Here's another one, I think I like even better - do you recognize the song? I love that it is all ages of family members singing and holding hands - so sweet!)

Then the kids played a game kind of like London Bridge is falling down. Adults formed bridges in circle around the Christmas tree, and the kids ran around underneath trying not to get trapped at the end of the song. If you get trapped, the bridge people tell you to choose one of too fruits (like apple or pear). Depending on the fruit you choose, you have to stand behind one of the people in the bridge. At the end of the game, there was a tug-of-war between the bridge people and the kids they had trapped! I am not doing a great job of describing this, but it's really fun! 

Søster Nuttall and I were just going to watch, but then one of the Young Women convinced us to be a bridge, and then the primary president made us run around the circle with all the little kids. ;) It was so fun!! everyone was laughing and singing and ahhhh it was just great. Then we played hokey-pokey around the Christmas tree! Who knew they did the Hokey pokey in Denmark? Not me! 

'Glade Jul' by Viggo Johansen, 1891

We finished the party by having dessert... Æbleskiver! It turns out it's not a breakfast like we eat it at home, it's a dessert that they serve with jam and powdered sugar. So fun! Also, Elder Crank, our District Leader (who is Native American and before his mission was internationally ranked as a hoop dancer) did a hoop dancing performance! It was awesome.

So those were the highlights of the week. It's been really fun to carol to people, and as of yesterday one of our less-actives is reactivated! How exciting is that? She is 4 or 5 years older than me, and her testimony is so strong. It's so exciting to see her in church and to see the ward reach out to her.

I LOVE how the Danes celebrate Christmas! The 22 is little little Christmas. The 23 is little Christmas. The 24 is Christmas. The 25 is Second Christmas. The 26 is Third Christmas. It reminds me of the hobbits! 

I love Christmas! I love Christ! I love that even the hardest things we have to do are made bearable because of the atonement and prayer. The gospel is such a happy thing to have, and it's so fun to share, especially when it means a lot to other people, too.  I love being a missionary. And I love you! :)

God Jul! Jeg Elsker jer!

PS I can't get this computer to work with pictures ): I'm sorry!  Next week.  :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

God Jul og ha' det godt!

So. I know last week I said I'd have cool pictures of churches to show you this week but... we didn't actually go see any churches.

Me pulling a sword out of a stone.  woo!

Because when we left our apartment to get groceries, we locked both our sets of keys and our phone in the apartment! We had no way to get in contact with anyone, and no way to get anywhere but walking. 

My boots are getting worn in!
So we walked downtown to a library where we sent an emergency email to our Mission President to see if he could tell the Ægtepar to meet us at the train station at 4.30. Then we ended up meeting up with Maria, an awesome member who was up in Aalborg from Randers, who let us use her phone to call the Zone Leaders, who called the Ægtepar, who ended up letting us sleepover at their house that night. 

How crazy is that? Just another crazy event in the life of Søster Barrett! And also, the Ægtepar have seriously become like a 3rd set of grandparents to me, I LOVE them! They are so willing to help us with anything, even though that usually means they're saving our lives or driving all over town for us or some other crazy thing.

This is me in an apartment complex that kind of looks like a psych ward.  Creepy!
 Anyways, other than that it has been a pretty normal week! No huge miracles, but the fact that we were able to have a place to stay on Monday night and the owner of our apartment had time to come bring a spare key to us on Tuesday felt like a big miracle to me! It's nice that the Lord still works through us and blesses us, even when we make dumb mistakes. ;)

Søster Nuttall and I in Støvring, a small town outside of Aalborg with a really cute path near the train station.
We had a great lesson last night with a married couple about the Word of Wisdom - the Spirit was very strong and they are going to try to start following it!
Another married couple we teach had us over on Wednesday night, and we taught about the Plan of Salvation! The husband is a less-active member and is familiar with a lot of stuff from church, but his wife isn't and it was amazing to be able to teach her and help her understand the purpose of life a little more. She told us she felt really warm and happy inside, and we were able to teach her about the Holy Ghost and how that is what the warm feeling is! 

And after the lesson was over, husband asked us if we have anything to keep money in. We told him all our money is in the bank, and then he said "well we have a special money holder to give you." He then pulled out a huge coca-cola bottle piggy bank! Whaaa? We have no idea what to do with it, but it was so funny and sweet of them to give us! We're thinking about writing a miracle down every day and putting it in the bottle, and then going through and reading them when life gets hard.

Honningbombs - these really good cookie things.  Yum!

We have just recently started to get more eating appointments (for my first transfer we had a grand total of 2 eating appointments! It was a little depressing!) so we're trying to get to know the ward members and in January we're going to start a new ward mission plan. Yesterday we had a lunch appointment with the Christensens (They could be related to Randy's family! Who knows!!) and they are SO FUNNY. We talked a lot about the Danish word for speed... fart.  And on elevators here, when the elevator is moving it says "I fart," which basically means "in motion", but if you read it in English it just looks like the elevator is telling you it's farting!  Ahhhahaha it just cracks me up every time. ;) 

We made Christmas advent calendars for a couple of families in the ward with scriptures for every night leading up until Christmas, and then challenging them to read the scriptures together as a family! I was afraid they would think the calendars were tacky, but they were all so sweet about it - and really excited to do it! Yay! 

I am soooo excited to talk to you on Christmas! So this is how it will work I think. Basically, on December 25 (Christmas here is three days long by the way!), in the evening, we will get to go online at a members' house and skype our families for however long we want! I think it'll be around 10 or 11 in the morning for you all, and you better not open my package (I'm sending it today!) until I get to see you open it! I have to remind myself not to get too stressed out about all of it, 'cause I know it'll work out! I think it'll be best to use Google Plus - because I'm not sure if I will be on a mac and able to use facetime!

Here's a little more Danish Christmas fun.  Nisse is a cheeky little Danish Elf.  I love Nisse! Nisse isn't just one elf, there are lots of Nisser! They're pretty much just like the elves we talk about in the US, but instead of just being little kids, they are of all ages, and they like to play tricks sometimes! 

It's the cutest thing ever - the Danes love Nisser, and they decorate their whole houses with lots of Nisser, big and little! One of our Less Actives gave us a couple of Nisser for us to decorate our apartment with, and another less-active gave us a Nisse Christmas countdown candle. It was so sweet of them! You should look up Trip Trap Nisser - it's a company that makes little Nisser, and every Christmas they come out with a new pair! So cute. I love it.

I hope you have a good week! I love you so much! God Jul og ha' det godt! :) Danish is getting better and better every week by the way. It's so fun!
Love love love,