Monday, September 29, 2014

Dansk er jo verdens bedste sprog

Hej! Undskyld jeg har ikke skrevet nok på Dansk! Altså... Jeg troede Engelsk var godt nok men Dansk er jo verdens bedste sprog. Så må jeg gerne skrive lidt på Dansk. ;)

I'm doing great today. How are you? 

Søster Vige and Søster Barrett
T, a member here (her fiance is F, the one who is teaching us Italian) has a tradition of taking the missionaries out to eat at an "American" steakhouse. We went there last week. I'm not sure how American it tasted because I had a really bad head cold and couldn't taste anything! But we're going again this week so no worries ;)

Oh by the way! I got super sick last Tuesday - throwing up, fever, the whole shabang. It was not fun. But it only lasted one day! And Sister Vige called a bunch of potential/previous investigators while I was dying on the couch, and made some appointments! One of the guys she called, P, we met with on Saturday and he's investigating the church again! Exciting!!

CONFERENCE! Woooo I am so excited! It's going to be so good. The elders made a goal to be at a different house for each session and we decided to copy them. So on Saturday (we only see the first session on Saturday because of time difference) we're going to M's house, then on Sunday we'll be with T and F, and then in the church building. It should be fun! I am excited to learn from the prophets and apostles of our day. How awesome is it that we have the same callings and leaders in the church now as when Jesus Christ was on the earth? I love that about the church.

The last week was amazing. So a few weeks ago (because of President Teixiera's visit) President Sederholm gave us new guidelines for our lessons - that we should try to keep lessons to 25 minutes or less as appropriate, ask the people we teach who we can pray for and help in their lives, and ask at least one baptismal interview question each lesson - whether it's with an investigator or a less-active. Sister Vige and I were having a hard time applying it all in real life, and I was kind of starting to think it didn't work. 

Then on Wednesday last week I went to a year-mark meeting with my MTC group, and the focus was on the new rules. It was really recharging and motivating - I realized that I had kind of lost my faith in the plan. But the meeting was just what I needed, and I came back with some new ideas and a lot more faith - it spread to Sister Vige, and from that day on we did our best to apply the new guidelines. It wasn't perfect but it was a LOT better than the week before, and the Spirit was so much more with us. 

Our lessons were more meaningful and to-the-point, and we got a lot closer to the people we work with. I loved it!!! Sister Vige and I are teaching with a lot more unity now as well, not that we weren't before, but it's even better now. It's so great to see the work moving forward, and to feel like we're making a difference in peoples' lives.

This week we're planning on meeting with M a few times (he's reading in 2 Nephi now by the way! and is working on the word of wisdom! Sister Vige made us all matching friendship braclets too, which is pretty darn nifty), as well as our other investigators and several less actives/recent converts. 

We're also going to the hospital for Sister Vige's MRI scan, and we should be finding out about transfers within the week! I hope that we can be happy for whatever happens with transfers, because Sister Vige doesn't want to leave and I don't want her to either! 

And I hope this week I can work on having more charity in my heart - just more sincere love for the people we are with here. I got Elder Cragun's email home this week and something he said that I thought was awesome was - faith without works is dead, but faith and works without charity is dead too. It's so true! Missionary work only means something if you do it with your whole heart. 

Time is going faster and faster and I'm kind of panicking thinking that someday this is going to come to an end. Gotta make the most of the time I have!!!

Anywho, I have to get going - I've got a few more emails to write before I get off the computer! 

Vi ses næste uge!


PS pictures! Windmills in a field on our way out to a members house.  And me in a field! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

ja ja men altså....

Søster Barrett asks Elder Bednar a question

Our day has been awesome - our alarm didn't go off (what the heck!) so we woke up at 7:05. whoops! I'm just glad I woke up and checked my watch, otherwise who knows when we would've realized we needed to wake up! 

Then we cleaned and got ready for the day, had our studies (I read my patriarchal blessing and it was really good. I am always so uplifted by it!), cleaned some more, I wrote a letter (not to you! Sorry! I will next week!), then we headed out to email! 

Søster Vige is doing well - we got a car! We get to use it until the end of the transfer, and Søster Vige will know for sure what's going on by then, so it's nice to have in the meantime. It's helping her a lot. And my knee is totally fine - it was the weirdest bruise ever, it turned yellow on the inside and now just has an outline of purple, and it's super itchy! haha!

The leaves are definitely changing - it's really getting to be fall here now. And it's starting to get dark in the mornings and evenings! nooooo! 

Companionship love!

The Elders are great! I'll send you some pictures we all took after an eating appointment last week 'cause the sunset was really pretty. Haha. It was their idea not ours!

Us and the Zone Leaders

And I'm sorry, this letter is short again! Sometimes I feel like I need to tell so many stories that I get overwhelmed and don't know where to start, and then I just get unmotivated. :O 

But there are lots of good things happening! M is as wonderful as ever, and he asked us some really good questions about the priesthood that I had no idea how to answer - turns out I don't really know that much about the great apostasy or how it was that the priesthood got lost! More to learn! :) 

I wonder - what things do I do/have I done that I really should give up because I know the church is true? I guess we're always trying to be better versions of ourselves, and true conversion is when we act in accordance with what we know to be true. 

And we had an awesome conversation with a girl on the train - her name is C and she's going to meet up with us at a cafe tomorrow to talk more about the church! So exciting!! The work really is going forward.

I love you lots and I hope that everything goes well this week! Hug and kiss everyone from me! Talk to you next week. :)


PS - Oh, and if you want to see more Elder Bednar pictures, go on the mission picture blog site! :)

PPS - Hannah's mom here - I had a friend ask me, "How does Hannah post to her blog each week?"  Søster Barrett is able to send emails to family and friends each Monday.  She has about an hour online.  So she writes to us, and I copy and paste her letter to her blog.  I edit out family info (sometimes it is a little tricky, because she answers questions that we wrote to her and things seem confusing in her note) and I edit the names of investigators, but I don't change anything else.  I paste in any pictures she sent home that week, and then post up the blog.  Then I link it to her facebook - I log in under her username (every single week I have a little panic that I have forgotten her password...)  So that's how it works!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A bruised knee

Thank you for the package, I got it this week! It was so great with all the cute back-to-school things, and I'm wearing the scarf right now. Fun!

Haha you're right, talking less and asking more questions in a lesson is not at all as easy as it sounds!! And finding the balance between the lesson plan and fitting the persons needs exactly - sometimes things don't go according to plan, but how to know when you should stick to the plan or let the lesson go where the person needs it to go... that is the question... eek it's stressful.

Getting eaten by a wooden snake!
I think lately I've realized that it really can be hard to stand up for what you believe in and know to be true - especially when it's with people who are members of the church, or with other missionaries. It's the little things - like asking members to turn off the radio while we're driving in the car - and it's hard to stand up for the right simply because it is the little things. It's easy to get teased for not wanting to listen to regular music - but oh how it makes a difference in how much you feel the Spirit for the rest of the day as a missionary.

And the people around us aren't necessarily trying to make us break the rules or anything, it's just a matter of us being brave/diligent enough to explain that it's something we can't do. Bleh. It's something that's been coming up a lot lately, so it's helping me stretch and grow and be better at taking a stand - but doing it in a polite, socially acceptable way, not an awkward or rude way. ;) Ah, it's a fine fine balance, I tell you what.

I'm running out of time so this is going to be a short run-down of the week - we hobbled around a lot. Søster Vige can't walk well because of her knees, and the doctor can't figure out what's wrong, so there's not much we can do. But! We've been meeting some wonderful people on the streets, and having some great appointments. 

M is doing well, and last night we met with him and L, a woman who lives near him and is coming back to church. It was pretty awesome, because M had a lot of concerns last night, and L actually has a lot of the same concerns, but she's never opened up to us about them before - but at the same time, L does have a testimony of the gospel and was able to share that with M. It was a very special experience. 

We played soccer with a family in the ward and there was a little accident on the field and my knee got hit pretty hard! I have a way awesome bruise from it, there's a picture attached. 

The knee right after getting hit.

The game was fun though! It was funny, because the dad of the family was the one who ran into me, and he went to help with a youth activity right after. We had signed up to bring some food for the dinner at the activity (service opportunity!) and by the time we got there eeeeeveryone knew about what had happened and asked me about it. He told everyone about how he almost broke the knee of one of the sister missionaries! Hehe!

The knee yesterday. Nice bruise!
M came to church yesterday, and so did S and S, our two new investigators from last week! They enjoyed it and we're meeting with them this week. It was so sweet, they gave a donation to the church because they said that's their way of paying tithing! Any time they visit a church, they donate money to it.

Aaaand I have to go! Sorry! But I love ya lots and I hope that you have a great week!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Conference with Elder Bednar

Hola! Hej! I am great today. It's been a beautiful week of blue skies and halfway fall halfway summer weather - it feels great outside! Hehe, 
A beautiful field
The conference with Elder Bednar was AMAZING! He was there with his wife, one of the presidency of the Seventy and his wife, and another area seventy and his wife. I just tried to type out a big run-down of what the conference was, but it was kind of boring. All of the men and women that spoke (everyone who came with Elder Bednar addressed us and bore their testimonies) were inspired and the Spirit was so strong. 

Elder Bednar taught us by example how to teach the way Christ taught - instead of talking at us he talked with us. He asked us questions and gave everyone the chance to respond, and asked follow-up questions to our responses. He followed up with us on the talks he had asked us to read, and he asked us to share what we had learned from the talks.  A lot of times after a person shared something he would say "You knew this before! Why is it important to you now?" He told us that asking questions gives the people we teach the opportunity to open their heart up enough to answer - and as their heart is opened, they are more willing to let the spirit in. 

Basically he taught us what we have already read again and again in Preach My Gospel - that the best way teach is to follow up on previous commitments, ask inspired questions, extend new commitments, bear testimony, promise blessings, and then follow up again the next time. In the last half of the conference he gave us the opportunity to ask him questions, and he as well as the men and women with him answered the questions. It was pretty amazing because as questions were asked and answered, I received answers to questions I didn't even realize I had.
To me one of the main themes in the conference was that our level of conversion is shown by how well we act on the knowledge we have. Anyone can have a testimony, but not everyone acts on that testimony. True conversion happens when a person is willing to not only believe, but act on that belief. It's only through following Christ's example and doing the things he asked us to do that we can understand the principles of the gospel with our hearts as well as our heads.
I was also really hit by what Elder Bednar said about discerning peoples needs. He said that we need to have eyes to see and ears to hear - in other words, we need to be spiritually and mentally prepared to notice and listen, so that we can know what to say or do to help meet other peoples needs. And therefore we need to ask questions. We can't force anyone to accept the gospel, and a lot of times missionaries (and probably people who are trying to help others in general) get caught up in thinking "If I could just make him understand this one thing! If I could just share the perfect scripture or tell the perfect story, this person will be more converted." But that is not how it works - it's the Spirit who teaches, not us, and the Spirit can only bring a witness UNTO a person's heart, not INTO his or her heart - that is up to the individual. But when we ask questions, like I said earlier, people have to open their  heart at least a little bit to answer - and that is a chance for them to feel the Spirit.
Elder Bednar asked us to answer two questions after the conference was over: Based on what I have observed, learned, and felt today, what will I do differently? and Based on what we (each companionship) have observed, learned, and felt today, what will we do differently?
I want to be a more pure conduit for the spirit and a better listener. I am going to work on keeping my mind and heart a place where the Spirit can dwell always, and focusing completely on each person we teach or talk to, rather than worrying about what I will say or do next.
Sister Vige and I set three goals for our companionship: 

1. Have eyes to see and ears to hear;  
2. To be conduits for the Spirit by remembering our purpose every minute of the day; and  
3. Remember that there's a time and a place for everything. :) Because guess what? Elder Bednar is hilarious! He is really fun to listen to and talk with, and he made that conference so entertaining. Being a tool in the Lord's hands takes hard work, but it takes having a sense of humor and enjoying the moments along the way as well. Otherwise the work of salvation wouldn't really feel like salvation, in my opinion. ;)
So basically it was just an amazing conference and Sister Vige and I are excited to apply what we learned from it!
We made Ratatouille!  How fun is that?!
In other news, M is doing really well and was in church again on Sunday! He is working on stopping drinking coffee - he's such a funny guy! He told us that he's been working on not drinking coffee, and we were pleasantly surprised because we haven't taught the word of wisdom yet. We asked him why he's not drinking coffee, and he said "Well that's what you're supposed to do, isn't it?!" Being able to meet with M is such a blessing - he is so sincere about doing what the Lord wants him to do, and I know that the gospel is filling the holes in his heart. It's wonderful to see that happening to someone else, because it's a testimony to me that the gospel has filled holes in my heart and will continue to do so.
We walk everywhere and as long as we have time, we contact people as we walk. Sister Vige told me that in Norway the missionaries ask people "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" (I feel like I told you about this last week but can't remember!) So we've been asking people that a lot. It's kind of bittersweet, hearing all the questions people have - everyone wants to know why God made their life so hard, or why human beings are so idiotic (haha really someone asked that yesterday!). So it's pretty special to be able to bear testimony that God has a plan for us, and that it's through Jesus Christ that all things can be made right again. 

There was one girl in particular this week, named E, who wanted to ask God why she is so sick. She told us she'd just recovered from a leg injury, and now can't use her hands. She asked God once to heal her, and it didn't happen so she lost hope. We read Alma 7:11-13 with her, and explained what the Atonement is for, and I kid you not we saw hope come back into her eyes. She took a Book of Mormon, but said that she wanted to think about it before she committed to learning more about it (darn it!) - and I know that miracles wil happen in her life if she opens her eyes to it.
We did garden work with S on Saturday - she is still as wonderful as ever and doesn't quite see why it's important to stop smoking, but we'll get there. She said she can't quit because it would be rude to not do what everyone around her is doing, and then Sister Vige asked her if she would jump off a cliff if everyone else was doing it - her response: "Well I would never take it that far, I don't want to hurt myself!" ...hehehe.
We did service with the Bishop's family and went go-karting.  :D
My hopes for this week are that...
1. we'll be able to meet with F this week (we stopped by her last night and she said if we text her today, she might be able to meet tomorrow)

2. we can get all our visiting teaching appointments set up (the relief society asked us to do visiting teaching! So we have people to visit with some of the recent convert/less active women in the ward)

3. S and S (a couple we stopped by yesterday - they let us in, we taught the first lesson and they committed to reading in the Book of Mormon) will read and come to church this week. They said they're too busy to meet until coming to church on Sunday, so we will see what happens!

4. S will agree to meeting with us 3 times this week 20 minutes at a time (in the mission we're working on having frequent, short appointments with people instead of once a week, longer appointments)

5. M will commit to a baptismal date.

6. Sister Vige can walk without feeling pain OR we can use the car until something is done with her knees.

7. We can hold to what we've learned in the last few conferences and really apply it all every day!

8. You all have a great week and that school gets better for everyone. :)
I love you! Keep up the work and the faith! I will talk (write) to you next week. And it'll be a great week for all of us!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In Slagelse

Slagelse is AMAZING! It's such a hyggelig town, and the ward is so loving. It really feels like a big family. It's a LOT slower paced than Copenhagen, that's for sure! We walk everywhere (Søster Vige is having problems with her knees and the buses run once or twice an hour so they're not usually efficient) and there's almost no one else out walking! 

Søster Vige and Søster Barrett

But, we contact when we can and one woman named F we talked to on Wednesday asked us to come tell her more about the church on Thursday! We were happy to oblige. ;) She was just curious about what the church was, but by the end of our lesson she said she felt so touched by what we were saying, and she wanted to learn more. It was such an amazing experience - all three of us were so in tune with the Spirit, that F would ask questions that went exactly with what we were about to teach, and then Sister Vige or I would answer with exactly what needed to be said.  We are meeting with F again this week and inviting her to baptism! 

We also have this great investigator M, who is from New Jersey (he's got a great Jersey accent) and in his 50's. He was in the Air Force! Sister Orgill and Sister Vige contacted him on the street and he was so excited to find out that Sister Orgill was from America too that he kissed her on the forehead! Wahaha. He has a lot of great questions and concerns, and I think he may be reading some information from non-LDS sources, but he's very sincere and wants to give the message a chance. 

On my first night he came to a family home evening with us at the bishop's house (by the way the bishop and his family are AMAZING! okay the whole ward is. Everyone is so supportive of missionary work and SO happy to help and really welcoming to the people we bring). Afterwards M said that it felt like he was with family, and he even wrote a card to the bishop's family to thank them. How sweet is that?!

We also work with a lot of amazing less-actives and recent converts. It's so fun because Søster Handley told me about all of these people before I came here, so whenever I meet someone she talked a lot about I feel like I'm meeting someone famous! So there's S, who just got baptized a few weeks ago. She has some pretty out-there ideas about life, but she is on her way and will do really well as long as she continues to stay humble and teachable (it makes SUCH a difference let me tell ya! Plus it's the first step in the conversion process, according to D&C 20:37).

We also meet with T, who was reactivated over a year ago, and her fiance F, who got baptized in March. He is from Italy and doesn't speak much Danish or English, so T does a lot of translating. We're going to learn I am a Child of God in Italian so we can sing it to F! We're also good friends with T's parents, J and R, who are also recently reactivated. J reminds me of the witch in Brave and the two together kind of remind me of the old married couple in The Princess Bride (the ones who revive Westly).

We ate dinner with a wonderful woman named L last night who is starting to come back to church, and the three of us had a lot of fun together. After dinner L came with us to sing some hymns to M and read a scripture with him - it made him so happy!
One last picture from Frederiksberg!

I brought my ukulele to church yesterday because I thought we were going to sing at a nursing home right after church, but it turns out we were actually going home to eat  lunch before that so I didn't really need to bring it with me. Either way everyone kept asking about it and the bishop even said we should maybe do a musical number with the ukulele in church :) Isn't that so cute?

But we took the uke with us everywhere yesterday and sang at the nursing home (a big success! I was really surprised because not only did the old people enjoy it, but so did the workers and one of the old ladies daughter - she said the songs really touched her and made her cry. The Holy Ghost was definitely at work!), with L and M, and then we stopped by a really sweet girl named M who was baptized earlier this year but has stopped coming to church. I love singing to people because it brings the Spirit in such a special way.

And I LOVE Søster Vige, it feels like we've been companions for way longer than a week in a good way! Hehe, Sister Vige speaks amazing English (she is from Norway) and knew it before the mission - she says that she prefers speaking English with Americans because it doesn't feel right to speak Danish or Norwegian with them. But! I think my Danish has gotten a lot better in the week we've been together simply because Sister Vige speaks Danish almost perfectly, and I am working on imitating her accent. Plus if I don't know a word or how to pronounce something, Sister Vige does! It's sooooo nice. Plus Søster Vige is just the sweetest Sista ever - she's really supportive and go-with-the-flow, very funny, and so in tune with the Spirit. She was trained by Søster Nuttall so we reminisce about Søster Nuttall together all the time :) I love it!
With a basil plant M gave us
Everything is just wonderful here. Slagelse is a really special place full of really special people. This week we're going to be meeting with M and F a few times, as well as J and R, L, N (another recently baptized girl... she's amazing! We're working with her on going to the temple), B (also recent convert, working on going to the temple!), and more.

On Saturday we're having a mission conference with Elder Bednar! Isn't that exciting? It's going to be awesome. We're reading some of his talks in preparation for it, and they're amazing. Have you read Seek Learning by Faith, Ask in Faith, or Converted unto the Lord? I highly recommend them!

This month as a mission we're studying Preach My Gospel Chapter 12! It's all about preparing people for baptism and confirmation. It's so important to help people know what it is they're getting into - baptism is a covenant with the Lord, and though no one is asked to be perfect to enter that covenant, we're expected to understand it and do our best to live it. Which puts a big responsibility on us as missionaries to teach the doctrine so that our investigators cannot misunderstand what it is we're talking about!