Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jeg tror på Jesus Kristus

Danmark is lovely and getting more spring-like every day! This morning when we went out to run it was almost completely light out! Hallelujah! There are cute little yellow and white flowers poking out of the ground everywhere and it just feels like Spring!  

 Me being an Aalborg Pirate! (I don't know why Sister Packard and I didn't take a picture together)

My bike is good this week, and I'm using it a lot! We figured out that on Saturday, we biked at least 20 km. Maybe that's not that impressive, but we thought it was! 

We have an essentials Pday (Preparation Day) today because we have a district activity on Thursday, so that means our pday ends at 3 today. But we're going to try to go into the church by our apartment and walk around the park/pond close to it! Here is the sad truth about Pdays. Usually we're so busy trying to get things done that we don't have time to go out to the cool stuff! I haven't been able to go to any of the museums. Maybe someday.  

Denmark is the historical home of the Vikings. I ask a lot of the people we meet if they're Vikings, and most of them are. ;) M is actually the descendent of a legendary Viking whose name I can't remember! But isn't that so cool? 

The Elders at the hockey game a couple of weeks ago.

Søster Packard is doing so well! She is so wonderful. She has so much faith, and she's really optimistic all the time. And, we both love to sing so we duet all the time! It's a really nice way to share spiritual thoughts - singing hymns brings the spirit like no other! 

Thank you for that article! It's really true what Elder Oaks said - the church is growing here. And missions are only hard if you make them hard! Haha ok, sometimes being a missionary can be hard, but I can tell you that it is far more about how you react to challenges than what the challenges actually are. 

And something that I think is really important and cool about Denmark is that the only reason the church is small here right now is because so many LDS Danes left Denmark and headed to America when the church was first starting - and really, the Scandinavian countries were a significant amount of the backbone of the early church. 

Bishop M (the Aalborg Bishop) one time told us that he thinks the reason Denmark has it so good now is because the country was blessed for the sacrifice of all of those faithful pioneers. But of course, just like in the Book of Mormon, when lots of blessings come people stop feeling like they need Heavenly Father. So we're here to remind people that He is there, we are all His children, and that he loves us! And they do listen. 

This week was a really really good week! We taught a total of 16 lessons - 5 with a member present and 11 others. And 4 or 5 of those lessons were with people we met on the street or knocked into. We gave away Books of Mormons, pamphlets, cards, all of that good stuff! 

In the mission we have been focusing on having more effective personal and companionship study, and it has definitely blessed our missionary work. On Friday morning I was studying in Moroni 7, and I decided that I was going to start memorizing Moroni 7:45, which is about charity. I told Sister Packard about it in our companionship study. 

That night we got home and when we got in the apartment, we realized we still had 5 minutes left in the day. Of course we went back outside! We walked down the street to the bus stop, where there was a girl sitting down smoking a cigarette. We started talking with her and asked her what she believed in. She said "Jeg tror på næstekærlighed" - I believe in charity. 

Sister Packard remembered that we had talked about Moroni 7:45 that morning, so we took out a Book of Mormon and asked A (the girl) to read that verse! She read it, and then continued to read to the end of the chapter. We could tell that she was very touched by it, and she was even more so when we told her she could keep the book! 

Sister Packard and I walked away, and the minute we turned the corner we did a little victory dance because we were so excited about how it went! Studying the scriptures more diligently has made me more aware of opportunities to share the gospel, and it's helped me do it in a more simple, clear way. It's also helped Sister Packard and I both follow the Spirit more! 

Missionary Band

On Saturday morning we stopped by J., a less-active man who we stop by about once a week. He told us that he doesn't really have that much faith in Jesus Christ, but then somehow we got on the topic of Isaiah and his prophecies about Jesus Christ and J. got really excited about it! I really felt like J. has a lot more faith in Jesus Christ than he thinks, so I told him so (Afterwards Sister Packard told me she had felt the same thing!!). He paused for a second, and then a little light in his eyes started to shine, and he said "I do." 

It is really a blessing to be able to bear testimony of Jesus Christ to others, and even more so when it helps them remember that Jesus Christ is their Savior! 

On Sunday before we went out to visit some members Sister Packard had the idea to go contacting in the park near our apartment. We had a couple of pretty good contacts, and then we started talking with a woman named Kirsten. We asked her what she believes in, and she said "Jeg tror på Jesus Kristus." Oh mah goodness it's so rare to hear someone say that with conviction here, and Sister Packard and I were so surprised! We kept talking with her, and gave her a Book of Mormon. As we walked away we looked back and could see that she had opened the book and started reading through it a little bit.

Also, A came to church again! She biked with us there - which I thought was pretty dang awesome since she's 71! She also prayed with us for the first time this week, and on Sunday told us that she prayed before she went to bed and when she woke up in the morning, and she slept better than she has in a long time! J.was also in church, and she told us that J (her husband) talked with the man that they want to baptize them, which means they will be getting baptized on May 31!!! I am SO excited for them! J. is really sincere in wanting to find out that the church is true for herself, and not just because J believes it is true, and she has definitely started to receive that testimony.

So, yes. We are teaching and inviting and bearing testimony everywhere we go, and people do listen. :) The church is growing here! And the members are so strong! E, who comes with her husband to teach J and J. every week, is a 5th generation member of the church - her ancestors were some of the first to hear the gospel here! 

And speaking of 5 generations back, Sister Packard and I are related. Our great great (however many greats) grandparents are Pulsiphers! Zerah Pulsipher, one of the McBride family's great grandpas, is her great (great great blah blah blah) grandpa's brother. How awesome is that?!

Sister Packard has a recording of Elder Bruce R. McConkie's last testimony of Jesus Christ. She also has a cool little story that goes along with it, from Elder McConkie's wife, who tells how the song I Believe in Christ was written because of Elder McConkie's testimony. It's really touching, and if you have the chance to look up the story and his testimony, you should definitely do it! 

Elder McConkie said something in that testimony that I really loved. He said something like "The day will come when I will see the marks in Christ's hands and feet and wet his feet with my tears, but I will not know any better then than I know now that he lives." 

I want my testimony of Jesus Christ to be that strong, so that when I see Him again it is not an answer to a question or a long-awaited confirmation of a hope but a recognition of my older brother who has been with me my whole life long. And it is getting there. I do know now more than I ever have before that Jesus is the Christ, and that He lives. Every time I bear my testimony of Jesus Christ I know even more that He is the Savior, my older brother, and that He knows each and every one of us. And as a missionary I get to be His witness, and I want everything I do to reflect that. I'm deifnitely not perfect, but I get better and stronger every day. I know that the only way we can come back to Heavenly Father is by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Happy Birthday to Sydney! I hope you have a fun weekend celebrating it. And eat a turtle shake for me at Armadillo's ;) Ahhhhh I miss that Ice cream so much!! But I think that this Saturday Paradis, an ice cream shop here, reopens for the season and ice cream is free all day long, so we're going to be using our lunch hour to get some ice cream for sure. :D I love you all so much! I love this gospel, and I love Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the difference He has made in all of our lives. Can you imagine what life would be like without faith in Jesus Christ?

All of us rocking it on stage (except Elder Crank, he took the pictures.  And Elder Horrocks and Elder Sullican, since they live like an hour away)

I will forward some pictures from the hockey game a few weeks ago! Sorry, because I don't think I took a single picture this week :O I will do better for next time!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Viking Carving, Singing Trees, and lots of Love

I am doing really well today. It's sunny and warm and beautiful! It's starting to feel like spring, and little flowers are poking their way out of the dirt. No more snow, and there has been some rain lately (as well as a random hail storm), but not as much as in the UK. But I heard that it's rained so much there that people have had to take boats down the roads! Is that true? Craziness! 
A really cool Viking carving (the real deal, people!)

My bike is good. It seems that every time we turn the corner, no matter which direction we're going, there's another big hill to bike up! But that's good because I need the exercise. Now that our bikes are officially up and running again, we bike everywhere. We pretty much save our bus money for trips out-of-town or emergencies, and we aren't afraid to bike in the rain! 

The elders are really fun - Elders Crank, Clawson, Warner, and Madsen are here right now. And Elder Horrocks and Sullivan (he was in my MTC group!) are in our district, but they serve in Frederikshavn. Elder Crank only has 6 months left, but the rest of us have been out for 7 months or less, which is kind of crazy! 

And church was really good yesterday, Sister Packard and I played a musical number in sacrament and it went really well! I was getting really nervous right before, but then I remembered that I stinkin' love all of the people who were there so I didn't have anything to be nervous about! 

Everyone keeps telling me I'm going to be transferring after this transfer and I really really hope I don't, because I just love Aalborg! But whatever happens will be great. :) 

The work is awesome, we have a return appointment this week with our new investigator from last week! I can't remember if I told you about him or not, but he's from Vietnam and has two daughters. 

Also, A CAME TO CHURCH!!! She and her kæreste were there for sacrament meeting because of our musical number and they really enjoyed being there! A hasn't been to church in 9 years, so it was fun sitting next to her and seeing her get so excited every time she recognized someone. And everyone was so so kind and welcoming to both A and D, which made it even better. 

We had some really good eating appointments with members this week - not just because the food was good! ;) A lot of times all of the missionaries get invited over to eat, which means we don't get a chance to get to know the members that well. But this week it was just Sister Packard and I, so we got to get to know some families better and we had really good spiritual thoughts! 

On Saturday we helped a family get ready for their son's baptism - we helped make food before, played the music for the baptism, and served dinner afterwards. Yes, dinner. It was basically the equivalent of a wedding reception, but for an 8-year-old's baptism! So what I'm trying to say is, I got jipped when I got baptized. What did we have, brownies? ;) Just kidding!! It was really crazy though - the Danes really know how to party! There was steak, hot wings, ham, potatoes, salad, and home-made ice cream. And brownies. ;)

Yesterday something exciting happened! Sister Packard and I have stopped by a former investigator a couple of times to see if he would be interested in hearing about the church again, but he's always been out of town and we've only ever talked to his roommate. But yesterday he texted the Elders (because that's the number he had) and said he would love to meet, and that he's free on Wednesday. So we'll be having a lesson with him in a few days! 

Other than that this week we'll have a lesson with our Vietnamese investigator like I said, some less actives, J and J, and M (love that kid! He is reading Jesus the Christ. In English. And he's already read a decent chunk of it. I started reading it in October and I've gotten through like 20 pages, haha!). 

We're also planning on going through all of our former investigator records, because at some point they said yes to hearing about the gospel for a reason, and maybe the time will be right now again!

And now I would like to tell a little miracle story. Remember how I lost the keys on an s-tog in Copenhagen? I felt really dumb - especially because who knows where the keys were, and not only was our apartment key on the keyring, but also the key to the church. But I said a prayer and Sister Packard did a really good job of helping me not feel so dumb (thank goodness she doesn't hate me!), and then I just had the thought that Heavenly Father would take care of the keys to His church. Luckily, we had a spare key and we figured out how to break into our mail box. ;) 

Fast forward to last Tuesday, we got a call from the office in Copenhagen and they had checked at the police station and found the keys! So we got them back on Thursday. Heavenly Father really does take care of me, even when I do something really dumb like lose the keys in Copenhagen! It was just really sweet to see that happen!!

Søster Packard and I on a stage in the park
On last PDay we went to see the Singing Trees - it's this little park in Aalborg Centrum where they plant a tree for every musical artist or group who performs in Aalborg, and they have an audio recording of that artist performing in front of their tree. We found Elton John, Beyonce (her's was broken though, how sad!), Bob Dylan, and a lot more. It was so funny and a cute idea! 

Me with Shakira's singing tree!

I've noticed that the sky is brightening up in the mornings too, and that makes me so happy! It feels like the whole city is breathing again, with the sun out and the temperature above freezing. We celebrated Valentine's day with the package you sent!! Thank you so much for that. I gave valentines to some people in the ward, and they thought it was cute. Valentine's day isn't really celebrated here though, which is a bummer in my opinion!

A little mustache love!

Anyways the work just keeps on movin' forward, and I'm (hopefully) becoming a better person every day! I love the scriptures and I love love love our Prophet and Apostles! They really are inspired, and I love reading Conference talks. It's amazing to be able to teach the gospel to those who are ready to hear it, because they are willing to make the changes in their lives to come closer to Christ. 

Our sweet investigator A is starting to feel that God hears her prayers, and as of our appointment on Friday night she had read 17 chapters in the Book of Mormon already! She is wonderful. 

That reminds me, our appointment with her was the craziest thing I've been to thus far. We brought J with us, an older member of the ward who is originally from Holland. Before we got into the appointment she told us that her husband told her not to talk during the appointment, which I thought was pretty funny. 

A few minutes into the lesson, I could see why her husband said that. Wow, can she talk! It was amazing! Anything we said reminded her of another story or experience. It got to the point where Sister Packard and I couldn't look at each other without laughing because the lesson got so ridiculously off-topic. At one point I had to excuse myself so I could go into the bathroom and compose myself, because I had a laughing attack. 

Ohhh it was so funny, but you know what? The Spirit was still there, and when A told us that she was starting to feel that God was there when she prayed, my heart was so full. It's so cool to see prayer begin to mean something to this woman who has lived 71 years without much of a belief in God at all.

I love it! I love you! And I hope you all have a really great week. Everybody sounds like they're doing really good. Give everyone a hug and a kiss from me!

Keep up being so awesome! Goooooo Barretts! :)
Love love love you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Danmark er bare så dejligt!

Happy Valentines Day!!! 

Hey guess what? You can also celebrate MY SIX MONTH MARK on Valentines Day! 


That's so weird to me. 

Danmark er bare så dejligt! (Denmark is just wonderful!) It's warming up and there is sunshine out today! I didn't have to wear a heavy coat outside which is always a happy event - so I don't look like so much of a marshmallow. 

We are teaching some awesome people! M, who I've told you about (he's 15 and so amazing) knows more about the Plan of Salvation than I do and is just so sweet and sincere. He loves reading about the church and has just started reading through the Gospel Principles book, and ordered Jesus the Christ so he can read that too! 

Tonight we're meeting with J and J, who we've taught since I got here (my very first lesson was with them actually) and we're going to teach them about the temple which is my favorite favorite thing to talk about! 

We're also still teaching A, who I told you about last week (this week she told us that she biked to work every day from when she was 53 to when she was 60, and she biked like 50 kilometers a day!! how awesome is that?). 

We have a first appointment tomorrow with a new investigator who we knocked into last week, so hopefully that goes well!! 

Søster Barrett and Søster Packard

Søster Packard is doing just great and is such a good friend. We're having so much fun! I didn't see Søster Grant or Hale (her MTC companions) in Copenhagen, BUT Søster Hale is in my zone now!! She's serving in Århus so I'll see her at our zone training this week, WOOHOO!
It has been a weight-gaining week. And by that I mean... this week we had an eating appointment with Ly Thi Lam. She is an 80-year-old Vietnamese woman, who doesn't speak very good Danish and no English whatsoever.
The food after some of it had been eaten.

The elders have eaten with her before but this was the first time she invited Sisters. From what the Elders have told me before, she makes a LOT of food. I knew they weren't over exaggerating, but I didn't think they were under exaggerating. Holy. Cow. 

Too much food!
We walked into her apartment to a table literally covered in plates of food. The six of us (The Middlemases, Elder Crank and Clawson, and us) sat down to enough food for 20 people, and Ly told us to "Spis de hele!" (eat everything). I think it's a cultural thing, but Ly didn't sit with us or eat any food while we ate - instead she was in the kitchen making more food. 

Ældste and Søster Middlemas at the appointment
And then she came out with bread for us - a loaf of french bread for each of us. I am not kidding. We stuffed egg rolls into Sister Packard's bag, and it didn't even make a dent in how much food there was left for us to eat. Every once in a while Ly would come back in to the room and tell us to eat more! Or she would say "Do you not like the food I made you? Eat!!" 

The best Ægtepar 

It came to the point where we literally could not eat anymore, so she divided the rest up into left overs for us (enough leftovers for a full meal) and then had us sit down in the living room, where she brought us... cake! and cookies! and apples and oranges! 

At the end of the appointment.
We were pretty sick the rest of the day, and I think my stomach got stretched to twice its normal size. It was the sweetest thing ever, and Ly worked so hard to make all that food! But man oh man was it too much for me to handle! 
Søsters and Ældste after the meal

One of our less-actives we meet with every week told us this week she's going to try to come to church on the 16th! Which is so so exciting because we've met with her since I got here and it's the first time she's ever really considered it. Missionary work takes time! I think it's easy sometimes to give up on people because they don't want to make a change in the first or second lesson, but you can't ever give up. Obviously you use your time well, but you can't just write people off! 

Also... our bikes broke again. I got a flat tire on Tuesday and fixed it, but then Sister Packard's bike got a flat tire and when we tried to fix it, we couldn't get the gear off so we asked the Elders to help, but it turns out they didn't really know what they were doing sooooo... Sister Packard's bike is in the shop getting its gear put back together. I've learned my lesson! I will never try to fix anything myself again! I will leave it to the experts! But before Sister Packard's bike broke, we went out to an area where we have a lot of potentials/less actives/members, but we took a different route up. It took us on a road by a beautiful church and green, wonderful, wide-open Danish country. Oh it was lovely, and so worth all the hills we had to bike up!

Last night we had a half an hour left until we needed to be inside, so we decided to walk around and contact anyone out walking. We stopped to talk with a man and I kept thinking "I don't know where from, but I recognize this guy!" So I finally told him I recognized him. Turns out he plays basketball with the ward on Wednesday nights sometimes, and he was there one of the nights we came to play! We asked him if he would be interested in learning more about the church, and he said he'd love to, and that he could come an hour early to basket on Wednesday night to talk with us about it. It was so cool! We think that probably he's always come to basket, and no one has thought to ask him if he wanted to learn more about the church.

It's been a great week over here, and it's just going to get better! We have a lot of good appointments coming up - like I told you about J and J and our new investigator, as well as the basketball guy, and some members of the ward. I'm really excited! It's going to be great! I'm finally really getting why prophets in the scriptures and today are so urgent about inviting us to share the gospel - there are so many people in the world who need the chance to hear the gospel before it's too late!! So keep on being awesome missionaries on the homefront, and I'll keep doing my best out here! :))

Great Grandma Barrett's funeral sounds like it was really special. The Barrett family really is awesome! Sydney and Emily both wrote me emails and told me that they had a lot of fun seeing everyone (Emily is so funny - she said she didn't realize she was related to so many Barretts, and that it seemed like there was a whole congregation there, there were so many people!). And I think it's so funny that people still remember the bubble gum song, I don't think I can even remember all the words! 

I wish I could have been at Great Grandma's funeral, but I wouldn't really want to be anywhere other than here right now. :) I love it! I don't ever want to leave Aalborg, but my time may be coming, next transfer. Ahhhhh! 

This morning for our exercise we jogged to the pastry shop for breakfast!   Healthy, right?

Anyways I better go! I love you all so much!

PS - the key story - so funny! (I had written to her about something our Elders here in Rapid City told us - they were vacuuming out their mission car and managed to suck the keys up into the gas station vacuum... luckily they were able to get them back. I knew she would like the story, because it seems like keys are sort of slippery for her - they are always disappearing!)   Wanna know something else that's really funny? I lost our keys too... on an s-tog (a city train) in Copenhagen. Ahh! Luckily we have a spare and we figured out how to break into our mail box, but the sisters in Copenhagen are checking up at the train lost and found for the keys for us. Just another classic Søster Barrett moment! My whole mission so far has been losing keys and phones and breaking bikes! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Doing Great!

I am doing great today! I am sick - I have a pretty bad cold and sore throat, and I think I was running a fever the other day but I am pushing through! I got a blessing from Elder Middlemas yesterday and that helped. Plus since today is PDay we're going to just take it easy and I'm going to nap for a few hours to give my poor little immune system a rest! 

Sister Packard is awesome as usual! She has been taking care of me the last few days while I've been sick-o. And hallelujah the weather is wonderful! It's up above freezing and yesterday the sun was out! I don't think I've seen the sun since before New Years. 

It's weird to not hear anything at all about the superbowl, or US sports in general. But I do know that the Aalborg Pirates won their hockey game on Tuesday night!! :) It was really fun to go to the hockey game with our district and Henrik and Inga - Elder Clawson was especially funny to watch because he plays hockey, so he was getting really into the game.

So, this week! Like I said earlier, we had a new investigator in church, Anne. She is the sweetest lady, she's in her 70's and is pretty lonely - her kids don't talk to her that much. She has a grandson who happens to be in the same class as one of the girls in our ward (it was so sweet! She recognized Anne and told her mom, who then talked to Anne, which made Anne feel more welcome in the ward!). 

Our ward is really great in that a lot of people came up and introduced themselves to Anne and got to know her. She really really liked church and I think she's going to come back!!! 

We spent a lot of time this week out of town, on Tuesday we were in Copenhagen to take our language tests (pretty sure we both passed, it was really REALLY easy). 

On the train ride down this 40-year-old almost blind man sat across from us and started talking with us - we told him about the church, but when we gave him a card with our number on it to learn more, he thought we were hitting on him and he started asking if we were allowed to go out for drinks and how old we were... ahhh! so weird! It got reeeeal awkward when he realized we were only 19 and 20 years old. 

On Wednesday we had a really good lesson with a less-active woman and Elder and Sister Middlemas. It turns out Elder Middlemas taught her family when he was on a mission here the first time, and he can remember her when she was 3 years old - and she thinks she has a picture of him! 

Anyways, she has had a really tough life and hasn't been active in the church since she was a little girl, but she loves meeting with us and that connection with Elder Middlemas made her open up to us even more. 

On Thursday we went to Horsens for splits with the sister training leaders, which is always fun! I was with Sister Tew and we went to institute with an investigator that night. There were two guys there than no one else had seen before, so we introduced ourselves to them - they are both from Lithuania here studying, and one of their friends got contacted by the missionaries on the street and heard about Institute, told them about it, and they just decided to show up! 

They don't speak Danish so I translated for them (I TRANSLATED DANISH TO ENGLISH!! woo woo! the gift of tongues is real people!) and they really liked it. I don't know if I'll ever hear anything about them again since it's not my area, but they were planning to come again next week so I hope good things will come from it! 

So that has been my week. I'm getting better and better at sharing the gospel in all kinds of situations (I had a really good conversation with a lady on the bus yesterday!) and especially at sharing how the gospel can bless families. I think that talking with people about their families has made them a lot more open to our message - everyone loves to talk about their families! I know it's blessed the Barrett familie, and I love that I get to share that with other people. So fun! The church is true!!

Oh, and one last thing. Yesterday we went to Blokhus (a pretty town on the coast) to visit a woman who is only less-active because she has MS and can't travel out to church. We went with the Ægtepar and brought the sacrament to her. I don't think she's been able to take the sacrament in a long time, and the Spirit was so strong. She was so happy!! It definitely strengthened my testimony of how important the sacrament is, and it reminded me not to take it for granted because I get to take it every week!!

Pictures! There's one of me and Søster Packard right after we got our new headbands, then me in some snow (surprise!), then our district (two of the elders have transferred now), and me picking the nose of a sculpture thing outside the library. :)