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

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