Monday, February 27, 2017

Mardi Gras Parade after Parade after Parade!

Hello everyone! 

I hope everyone back home is enjoying the snow while I am here sweating in Slidell! Sadly this week, or maybe its a good thing so we will lose some weight, but we are losing our car this week and are going car share...  It will be good though, we will be able to be out and about talking to more people.  It’s Mardi Gras here!  There have been parades after parades after parades here in Slidell. A whole week off of school for everyone haha and an all day parade tomorrow in New Orleans.. Its a big deal down here, so funny!

This past week was pretty great!  I am amazed how many people have connections back to the church somehow.  We met 2 people this past week that used to live in Salt Lake. Another couple people that know members of the church through work or they used to live near a church. People that have met missionaries and read from the Book of Mormon before. All these connections and yet they still don’t have a desire to want to know if its true. Its amazing the people that actually have a sincere desire and apply the things that we ask them to do, they see progression. While those who don’t, don’t see it. 

In Joseph Smith History it talks about the experience him and Oliver Cowdery had as they translated the Book of Mormon as well as they received the Priesthood and were baptized after this it says:

We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.

74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more 
mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain 
to previously, nor ever before had thought of. 

Luckily we have the gift of the Holy Ghost to enlighten our minds and open our understanding so we can know the true meaning of things. Similarly people who are just investigating the church must be able to put themselves in a place where they can be influenced by the Spirit as well. How grateful I am for the spirit!

Thanks for all you do, Love you all!
Elder Larsen
2 Slidell Members/ 2 Non-member Friends and Slidell Missionaries at Ward Party/Mardi Gras Parade
Elder Warren and I at Ward Party/Mardi Gras Parade in Slidell
Mardi Gras Parade

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Anonymous Delivery!

Hello everyone, 

This week was great!  Elder Suapaia and I have seen some really cool things!

One day our Elders Quorum President called us and told us he needed a favor. He explained to us what was going on and basically said there was a family that was really struggling. They were about to start getting fined because of their situation at their house and they were doing all they could to fix it. The husband works all day, 6 days a week. The Elders Quorum President had found out about the situation from another person and felt compelled to help them out. From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm he had rounded up nearly $1,000 from various people to go towards helping the family out. We were the ones that he wanted to anonymously deliver the envelope to the family. It was cool, later that night we were at the Elders Quorum Presidents house and he told us that the man who he gave it to was calling not wanting to accept the money but eventually he did. That’s what the gospel is all about! The coolest part was how humble and happy he was to be able to do that for his friend!  The family will put it to good use. It was awesome to be apart of!

We had zone conference yesterday! It was fun once again to see all of the missionaries. I just got to sit and listen. It was great!

As I come to the close of the Book of Mormon once again, it reminds me to reflect and remember what we are to hope for in this life. Multiple times we are counseled to hope for something greater than things that are temporal. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and its teachings!

Moroni 7:41  And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have 
hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be 
raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the 
Moroni 9:25-26 
 but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing 
his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
 26 And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, 
and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all 
things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.

I am doing well though and am enjoying my time here!
Love you all! Hope all is well!
Elder Larsen

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day!

Hello everyone!

P-day is today because we had interviews yesterday and we have zone conference next week. (so p-day is on Tuesday again) Also, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!  This past week was good, luckily none of the tornados came this way, just a few miles away though!  The weather is not good, it is getting too dang hot...:) 

We spent a lot of time out and about going through the ward roster!  We were able to meet a lot of people that were there, and a lot of people who said they were "no longer Mormon, we are Catholic" but that is ok because we will keep trying! 

The ward is awesome. Its different being in a ward after the little Jackson branch, so many resources of people to go out with and things like that. The members here are great, they feed us to much, the weight that I have lost I am going to put back on... Elder Suapaia is doing good! He is a stud!  We found a couple of new people and had a super nice and welcoming part member family that we met!

We had the cool opportunity of teaching a family we tracted into the first week I was here. They had some very good thoughts and questions that can all be answered by the Book of Mormon. They had always wondered what was going on on this side of the world during the time of Christ. They always thought that it was unfair that Jesus only went to the other side of the world, they didn’t know why there weren’t more Jesus' in the world.  They were also amazed at the fact that God called a Prophet just as he did in the bible, but only a few years ago in the 1800's. Luckily we were able to help them, and give them the answers that they had always wondered.  How lucky are we to have the Book of Mormon and a living Prophet on the earth to lead and guide us!  I am coming to the end of the Book of Mormon once again and am grateful for all the life lessons it contains and the testimony it has helped me to gain!  The gospel is true! Have a great week!

Elder Larsen

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Elder Holland Visit and Leaving Jackson!

Hello everyone! 

After a crazy week with transfers and Elder Hollands visit I made it down to Slidell!!  I didn’t get the chance to email last week because it was quite the drive to make it here from Jackson, 4.5 hours or so!

I am here with Elder Suapaia and we are excited to get to work! My new area is good, there is a lot of work that needs to be done here!!!  I loved Jackson though.  It is a great place!!  I love that place, it was just the most distinct of any of the areas I had been in. So many different types of people!

Slidell is a lot different than Jackson. Culturally and physically. The people down here talk different and we are surrounded by a lot of swamps. They also talk about Katrina just like the Nephites talk about the birth of Christ, the reign of the judges, or the time that Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. An event that they keep track of time after. So many references to Katrina since I have been here!  Church was good. It is a small ward under 100 people. They had a very good ward council though. The best one I have been to on my mission. Very missionary minded and people driven. I am excited to be here to serve and move the work forward!

Things here are pretty slow moving right now, we have like 2 investigators and they aren’t the most solid, the area is nice though, lots of upper class people. We are working hard to find and teach!  There are a lot of members down here. Like 800+ on the rosters but most of them just up and left when Katrina hit and no one knows where they are at!  Elder Suapaia is from West Valley, he is 21. He is a good guy.  Honestly leaving Jackson was pretty hard, I felt more homesick from there the past few days than I did when I first came out. I was pretty lost not knowing what to do. In Jackson we had a lot of established things, appointments throughout the day, stuff we would need to be taking care of for the mission, phone calls, all sorts of stuff, and when I got here, it was just nothing.... I felt pretty overwhelmed. But things are good I will adjust fine!

We had a missionary broadcast last week where we were taught by the Missionary Executive Committee. They answered questions, gave us insights on our areas, and also announced rather important changes that will be happening to the missionary schedule.  Elder Smith and I tried it out all of last transfer. It basically just gives us more flexibility of when we do things throughout the day. On P-day it cuts down our studies by an hour and a half so we are out the door a lot quicker doing all that we need to get done in the day. Also we only report on 4 Key indicators now: Baptism, Baptism Date, Sacrament meeting, and New. This is all done to help us focus on our purpose of baptizing converts.

The Elder Holland visit was quite the ordeal, we had 2 charter buses come in from Shreveport and Gulfport. They picked up the missionaries in Monroe and Hattiesburg and then a few people just drove to Jackson. Once they got there we reverently shuffled everyone in to use the bathroom and then into the chapel. Once everyone was seated, we had given them picture placement assignments previously and had them exit according to their assignments to line up for the picture. We fit 200+ people in a picture with Elder Holland on 5 rows. The missionaries were very reverent through the entire process of lining up taking the picture and then walking in the line shaking hands and then going into the chapel again. I was really relieved they all were so cooperative. One of the charter bus drivers even commented and said " I don’t know why they don’t have the media out here filming this big group of young kids walking in so quietly, respectfully, and reverently". It was pretty cool to be able to meet Elder Holland. He is very passionate and very charismatic. He got down and even grabbed one of the Elders and shook him, by the shoulders. I sat next to him on the stand and that was pretty crazy. I was quite nervous to conduct that meeting but he said I did a good job, he was probably just being sympathetic though.
Elder Holland!
The rest of that weekend was quite the blur. We had a few late nights dealing with the last of transfer moves and then picked up the new missionaries on Monday.

Tuesday I was out of there, and rode the van down to Gulfport to then drove down to Slidell.  People were shocked to see me when I got off the transfer van it was kind of funny. Hopefully I can just fly under the radar though.
Transfer Van Ride to Gulfport!

We have a lot of finding to do this week!! Today we are heading out to go play basketball at the church for pday!! It has been mid 70s here. Not bad at all!

Thanks for all of your support! Love you all!

Elder Larsen!

((We had a unique opportunity. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Juan A. Uceda, of the Seventy, and A. Randall Blouth of the Area Seventy, conducted a missionary training session for the Jackson Mississippi Mission. They were very inspiring. The missionaries were thrilled to have the opportunity to be taught by such knowledgeable and gifted men. We were able to have all of the missionaries from the Jackson Mission attend and it was a wonderful experience. Elder Holland said he was genuinely impressed with the conduct of the missionaries.  We sang some songs, there is something special about a group of the Lord's servants singing praises to Him all at once; it brings a certain Spirit that I can't describe.

Before we were to depart into the chapel again, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland entered the gym. He was followed by Elder Bluth, Elder Uceda, and President and Sister Olson. We had been singing "Come, Come Ye Saints" when they walked in. We stopped rather abruptly after the first verse. In response, Elder Holland said, "Well, don't stop on our account!”  Elder Holland took the time to meet and shake everyone's hand. All the missionaries were instructed to give him our name and where we were from.

We were blessed to listen to the counsel of Elder Juan A. Uceda and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, both spoke with THE PURE LOVE OF CHRIST.  Elder Uceda speaks with love and compassion for the Lord.  Elder Holland does as well but he speaks with a lot of humor! He told us…"when you go home, continue to be who you are while in mission! The person you left behind is no longer existent!” This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so thankful for it.))

1- President and Sister Olsen
2- Office Couples The Slades, Reynders, and Edwards
3- The Hansen Family.  Madison Ward then switched to Branch
4- Gary!
5- Tamara and Troy with Us
6-Elder Jensen, myself and Elder Smith
7- Elder Smith and I
8- Jackson Missionaries at Church