Monday, December 30, 2013

Godt Nytår fra Danmark (Happy New Year from Denmark) - Elder Kolby Madsen

Written by Elder Kolby Madsen, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Danish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Mom!

Hi...

Well, it was way good to see you over Skype. I am not going to lie, it took like an hour to refocus but it was way good. Well shucks, you looked great too. No, I didn't mind talking to everyone. It was fun. I just hoped it did not take all your time, that was all.  I am also way happy to hear Braden’s voice is getting deeper. I can't believe he is so tall and his voice is that deep. Freak, I haven’t been gone that long! It feels like I just left, seriously, it does. Well any way, it was great to see you all and talk.

This week was a little rough, work wise, because in Denmark the Christmas holiday is three days long so we can’t really go knock doors. So it stunk in that way, but we had some great appointments set up beforehand. We were able to be with less active members or investigators every day of the holiday, so I could justify not being able to work.

Yes, to answer your question, the New Year celebration in Denmark is pretty crazy. People die every year, so we are not allowed to leave the apartment unless a member comes and gets us from our apartment and then drives us back. So that will be fun. I have heard fireworks randomly all throughout this week, and it’s not just little pops, it’s like bombs going off! You know the fireworks I usually get from Wyoming? Yah, those times 10! Crazy Danes :) S** told us that the law is that you have to have a 0.2 blood alcohol level to operate the fireworks, and he said that it is usually the first thing that happens before lighting them, haha. I guess it’s pretty insane, so I am way excited. We will be with the Amdi's for New Year’s Eve. They are just the best.

On Saturday we could actually go do something, so we went to see S**. It had been so long. He wasn't there the first time we went around, and his step daughter said he would be gone for a couple hours. So as we were driving with the ægtepar (senior missionary couple) to the next person we wanted to visit, we got this feeling that we needed to go back to S**'s. Again, relying on the Spirit never fails. While talking to him, he said that he has gained a lot of trust in us and that he was happy to see us again. So we are going to keep trying to meet with him.

It's been a great couple of days. The Christmas season is wonderful, and I encourage you to keep the Lord's spirit with you, and to share your love with others even after the day is over. The love and charity that everyone feels at this time of year can be felt everyday if we keep our eyes set on what really matters...the pure love of Christ.

I love you and am way thankful that I was able to talk for so long. Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe. Don’t let Jared touch the fireworks! He almost killed me two years ago :)

Med Kærlig Hilsen,

Ældste Madsen

Merry Christmas from Denmark! (December 24, 2013)

Fireworks and Lessons Learned (January 6, 2014)

Santa Madsen
Christmas PJs

Elders Wilsher and Madsen showing what's left of
their missionary muscles


Happy New Year from Arizona - Sister Lindsey Jeppson

Written by Sister Lindsey Jeppson, serving in the Arizona Mesa Mission / Mesa Temple Visitors' Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words links to additional information. Clicking on photos enlarges them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

I have had many visitors at the Visitors' Center. This is how it usually goes: We make eye contact, they make a face like, "you look familiar", then they look at my tag and notice I am a "Jeppson", then they say "Sister Jeppson! You don't know me but I was in the same ward as your dad!" Then I say, "6th ward?" They say, "Yup," then it is usually followed by some embarrassing story about Dad. Hence the subject line...How many 6th warders are there?!

Anyway, it was so good to see all of you! Christmas feels like forever ago! Braden sounds like a man, Taylor sounds like a teenager, McKinsey LOOKS like a teenager, and Brycen looks like the same cuddle bug :) My voice came back! It took three days, but it came back. I am so glad that you got time to relax and be together.

This was the BEST Christmas I ever had. It was because it was fulfilling. I spent most the time in the Visitors' Center, testifying of Christ, and talking with SOO many people from all around the world. I have heard the Christus narration hundreds of times in English and Spanish (I could probably recite it to you), Mandarin, Thai, Italian, Russian, Polish, German, I can't remember the rest... I'm going to look for Danish! Next Christmas, I am going to just serve (hold me to it). Being in the place I was, was humbling. A lot of families that we visited basically just had each other for Christmas, and they were so happy. There is his single parent family we are teaching and she has the cutest daughter! We brought them the majority of the candy you sent us (hope that was ok)...We also gave them the ginger bread house kit... Mom you should have seen her face.. She was SOOO excited.

Ok, I am finally getting transferred. I have been in this area for 5 transfers (each transfer is 6 weeks long). I have lived in the same apartment since I got to Arizona. I am going to Liahona 1. There are six missionaries in that ward, so it will be fun. My new companion is Sister DeMille. She has one or two transfers left, so I will most likely be her last companion. She is awesome. To describe her, think of my dearest friend Katie Fuell (who has not written me yet, btw). She is tiny, has brown hair, and is super crazy. We are both "gringas" (Spanish word for white people). We are going to live with members, so that should be fun...Oh and we are going full field which will be good. I am just sad because I have to transfer all my contacts (referrals) from Christmas lights to other missionaries :( But it is what it is, and this is what the Lord needs me to do.

I absolutely love being a missionary. I love teaching people what I know to be true, it is the best feeling to witness someone feel the Spirit. This is the truth, restored in its fullness. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, the prince of peace, and our older brother. I know that He lives, and I look forward to the time when He will come again and rein over the Earth. Because of him, we have the opportunity to be with the people we love for eternity. This is what happiness is. If you are not happy, turn to your Savior. Let him carry your burdens.

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Lindsey Jeppson

Merry Christmas from Arizona! (December 24, 2013)

Transfers and Miracles (January 6, 2014)

Hermana Leon, Hermana DeMille, Hermana Jeppson

Christmas PJs




Wishin' ya'll a Prospero Ano!

Written by Elder Dallin Remund, serving in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words links to more information. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Buenos dias, todos!

Les extrano mucho. (I miss ya'll a ton.) Hope ya'll had a GREAT Christmas and remembered the reason for the season.

I had a really good week. It was so nice to relax a little bit and most of all, to Skype the family. I miss ya'll so much! That forty minutes went by unbelievably fast. But what a blessing it is to get to do that twice a year. It had been so long.

Just like Thanksgiving, our Christmas was very Mexican. We spent Christmas Eve wrapping pressents with the Hernandez family and eating Honduranian tamales. They use banana leaves insted of corn husks and there's nuts, meat, and raisins in the tamale. Really good stuff right there. But it was great to get to serve by wrapping presents on Christmas Eve night. My mission president, President Baker, said that service is the best cure to any homesickness. So true!

Christmas Day I opened up my Christmas gifts. (Thank ya'll so much for the letters and presents.) We went over to the Espino's (the Hernandez's parents) and had pozole. They make it for us a ton and it is divine! We Skyped on their new iPads. We also got to watch Ephraim's Rescue, which is amazing! I'll be watching it over and over again.

Christmas Eve we also had a really great Mission Conference. President Baker put on a Muppet Christmas Carol. So fun, but we felt so weird seeing the Disney logo and the Muppets after 7 months of being a missionary. "Worldly" things start to get weird! We had a musical fireside and I got to perform, "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks." I'm still being blessed with opportunities to perform/conduct!

The rest of the week went well. Still a little slow, but Elder Lovell and I have been getting into spots of the area that haven't been worked by missionaries in a long time. It is so nice to have a change of scenery.

I know this gospel is true. As my gratitude for the Savior increased this Christmas, so has my gratitude of this restored gospel. We are in the last dispensation. What a blessing it is. This work is all for the preparation of the Second Coming of our Savior.

Con gratitud para ustedes y este evangelio (with gratitude for you and for this gospel),

Elder Remund

Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

Greetings from Antarctica

Happy New Year from Peru (Feliz Año Nuevo) - Elder Jake Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Mom,

I haven't read the letter yet because it's... really... long...haha!

This week was really, really long as well. In a good way. Like, we were able to establish contact with a lot of people, visit them several times each, and we've all been able to progress spiritually throughout the week.

Christmas here was pretty nuts. Santa Clause doesn't come to Perú because they have difficulties sending letters to the North Pole, so they stay up on Christmas Eve until midnight, then EVERYONE blasts off fireworks (there are no laws or regulations, whatsoever), opens presents, and eats a dinner. I have pictures but my computer this week doesn't have a USB (it's a dinosaur) so I can't hook up my camera. I did get to shoot off a Roman candle with forty shots! That was very exciting, but I was terrified to hit the power lines. We're ready for round two on New Year's Eve ;)

We had two wonderful sisters return to church after five years of inactivity, Sister O** and her daughter. It was a spiritual and emotional day for us and for them. Needless to say, the ward has really missed them and are ready to bring them back into the fold. There are four more members of their family that we are working with this week.

We were able to re-establish contact with a family that went to General Conference in October but have been busy since then. They forgot a few things we taught them before (well, everything), so we taught them the Restoration and invited them to read the Book of Mormon. The best part is their son in his early 20's, who we didn't know existed, came back from work in Chile and is very, very interested. Read the book, please!

This week, I learned about the power of a family. A unified family really has the power to change generations after generations of people for the better. It's interesting to look at a family like the Castilla family who are all active in the Church, returned missionaries, and married or will be married in the temple. They have all the happiness and blessings in the world! Then you have these part-member families, or families with less active members of the church, and they struggle to just feel happiness at Christmas time. I'm extremely grateful for my family, and I pray for each of you specifically by name (and Brig) over and over again. With my family I'm happy, I feel closer to God, and I get a better sense of our family as Children of God.

This week, let's find our lost brothers and sisters and remind them how we can return to our heavenly home through our elder brother, Jesus Christ. Through Him our sins can be forgiven, and through obedience to Him, we can become more like our Father. Let's return as a family :)

Love,
Elder Avery

P.S. Tell everyone I love them and miss them and I'm sorry that there's no pictures!

Merry Christmas from Peru! (December 24, 2013)

The Paws on the Guinea Pig Freaked Me Out (January 6, 2014)

Skyping with Elder Avery in Peru
on Christmas Day


Happy New Year from Chile - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Hello family and friends!

I hope you all had a great Christmas! I know, mine was great :) I got to talk to the family for about an hour and a half, which was wonderful! Just to hear your voices and see your faces live was amazing. Best Christmas present ever! Now, we have to wait until May for the next Skype session!

So, we are two days short of the New Year! Happy 2014! I have only about a year left in my mission and it's crazy to think how fast it has gone by. I think of all of the things that I have done this year (2013) and I am amazed at how much I have grown spiritually, emotionally, etc. I have seen so many miracles and been blessed beyond measure. And I know that you guys have too! And then I look at how fast this year went by, and how fast 2014 will go by! I will be back before you know it! It feels like I just barely got here, yet, some days, it feels like I will never come home! That's the mission life, but it is truly the best. There is nothing better than serving others! :)

So, Christmas we talked with the family, and we really didn't do anything else! No one wanted us in their house on the 24th or Christmas. They wanted to spend time with their families, which is all good :) Hermana Puertas and I made it fun and had "Christmas dinner" at 10:30 p.m., after Skyping you guys. We made fries, completos (stuffed hot dogs), and chocolate. Merry Christmas to us! :P

Yesterday was Claudio's and Ignacio's baptisms! It was SOO wonderful! There were over 35 people there. That is more than come to church every week, haha! We were in shock at how crowded it was, and so grateful that so many people came to support our boys :) They are so cute! And the Spirit was so strong. They are great, and Claudio will receive the priesthood in about a month! WOOHOO!!! Life is good :) J**, another of our investigators, was also at the baptism yesterday and told us that she wants to be baptized on the 11th of January. It's incredible!

Well, that is all of the news I have for this week. New Year's should be good too! Everyone burns their clothes from 2013 at midnight and buys new stuff for 2014, haha! Chileans do weird things sometimes, but I love them :) Have a great New Year, and work on those resolutions! Actually, stick to them, haha! And remember that the Lord will help you with all of them. Just pray for the help! :) Si se puede!! (you can do it!) I love you guys! Have a great week, and I will talk to you all in 2014! ¡Ciao!

xoxoxo, Hermana Avery
(a.k.a. The coolest American Hermana in Ovalle, Chile! :)

Merry Christmas from Chile! (December 24, 2013)

The Heat of all Heats (January 6, 2014)


Baptisms of Claudio and Ignacio - I love this wonderful
family so very much!
Christmas Eve 2013 in Chile


This family has five adorable little girls! They are
precious and Hermana Puertas and I love spending
time in their home.




Happy New Year from Mexico

Written by Elder Brian Burgess, serving in the Mexico Puebla North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

I hope all of you had an amazing Christmas and have cool plans for New Year's Eve!

It has been a fun week!

Christmas Eve and Christmas day it was really hard to find people to teach. But talking to my family was great! Also, on Christmas I bought a little chess set so me and my companion play chess every night now, after our planning and before we go to bed...I still haven't lost.

Thursday, the 26th, the other set of Elders in our ward had a baptism. The man has been wanting to be baptized for over a year, but he and his wife still weren't married so he couldn't be baptized. And now they have plans to enter the temple in a year!

Friday we had our district meeting, like we do ever week. I taught an English class beforehand. It is sweet that I can talk to the Elders in my district in English, if I talk slow. They are all learning pretty fast. It's been a pretty chill week. But I have a cool story:

Saturday the whole ward was going to the temple because a family in our ward was getting sealed . We have a family of six investigators that wanted to go to see the temple and the newly remodeled Visitors' Center. Then, at the last second, they decided not to go. We think it could have been because of how much the trip would have cost, and the dad told his employer he could work that day.

We went to their house Friday night and sat and talked with them. They told us their story, and that their daughter is pregnant and had been having contractions. So with all the things that they had going on, we knelt in prayer with the family and asked God to let them know what they should do. After the prayer we gave the daughter a blessing. Then Saturday morning, bright and early at 6 o'clock, we received a phone call saying the whole family except the pregnant one and her husband were at the church waiting for the bus to go to the temple. After the temple visit, (I wish I could have gone!) the ward had a big wedding/sealing party. Our investigators were there, we talked to them, and they all had the time of there life. Just a cool miracle that I could experience this week.

I am attaching a picture of me in my Santa outfit. An Elder that was going home gave it to me. And there's a picture of me and the first edition Book of Mormon in Spanish. This book is very rare and I imagine it's not cheap. My bishop had one, and he let me take a picture with it.

Elder Burgess

Merry Christmas from Mexico!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Peru! - Elder Jake Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

I'm calling the 25th at 2:00 Peruvian time!

I'm always scared to write about my week because it brings up a lot of less uplifting things that happened during the week. Maybe I'm just a pessimist, a happy pessimist :P


Elders Calderon and Avery
We had companion exchanges and I stayed in my area but got a new companion! That was very exciting for me. My new companion is Elder Calderon from Equador. He's been out for about 3 months. He's very spiritual, very thoughtful, very smart and, best of all, is ready to work and keep up the momentum in our area. Sadly he was sick for two days this week, and now that you guys know the steps of curing illness in South America, you can understand how just the concept of being sick is stressful. I was able to read Jesus the Christ and listen to hours of Christmas music.

We've found new investigators! Yes! One is J**. He lost his faith in God when his wife (partner really) left with his kid. He's committed to praying about and to reading the Restoration pamphlet (yes, occasionally we need to take a step back from starting with the Book of Mormon). The other is a family! R** and F** with their little girl (who's name escapes me). Mom goes to a different church but Dad doesn't, so we're trying to use the missionary discussions to pull the family together.

We're baptizing Hermana T** on Saturday, if everything goes as planned. She's 69 years old and is being very good and very obedient. I'm so proud of her for passing her baptismal interview. She doesn't remember very well or read, so she was really nervous that she wouldn't pass. But we practiced, and prayed for her, and tada!

Hi Dad,

Yes, we had the B** and C** families at the Christmas party. Haha, no Christmas program. Dad, there's nobody but me that can function the electric piano because the other lady that knows how to do it needs to lead the music.

Some of my MTC friends were at our Zone Christmas
Party, including my MTC companion, Elder Larsen.
I was craving Amish friendship bread the other day. For Christmas they eat something called panettone. It's okay, but it's not cookies, brownies, or ice cream. We had a multi-zone Christmas party with the Mission President. We ate ham, potatoes and corn (I loved it!!), then ice cream sundaes afterwards. I left happy!

I don't have any more time to write, but we will TALK tomorrow !!!!! :)

A Day at the Beach...Missionary Style (December 17, 2013)

Happy New Year from Peru (December 30, 2013)

Merry Christmas from Arizona! - Sister Lindsey Jeppson

Written by Sister Lindsey Jeppson, serving in the Arizona Mesa Mission / Mesa Temple Visitors' Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Feliz Navidad from the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center!

Miracles on Main Street (December 17, 2013)

Happy New Year from Arizona (December 30, 2013)


Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

Written by Elder Dallin Remund, serving in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to more information. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Buenas!

Hey ya'll. Christmas is in the air! Yesterday felt like August, though. It was about 80 degrees and humid. Then it poured rain down on us hard last night. It's cooling down, and I've heard Christmas is going to be super cold. No white Christmas out here!

Exciting news, we scheduled the friend of one of the young women in the ward for baptism on February 1st. Her name is K**. We had been tracting (knocking doors and street contacting) all day with no luck and decided to stop by a member's house. We told her we were looking for Hispanics to teach and she said that her daughter's friend was from Honduras and that we could teach her that night at the church. We met up and taught the Restoration and she really liked it. The most powerful part was hearing the daughter's testimony of the gospel. Another powerful lesson that came by the work of the members!

That same night, we got to start teaching an English class. The P** family showed up and then a non-member saw our sign for the class at one of the Mexican stores and showed up that night. We had a great time. Teaching English is a little tricky, but a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Things are going really good. One thing I have learned this week is how to be confident in planning. Elder Lovell's been working with me and trying to help me so I'll be fully ready to take the lead whenever it does happen. I'm going to thank him for it, even though it's hard to come up with ideas for lessons and the daily schedule. It's getting easier and easier, for sure.

I was going to upload some pictures, but realized I didn't have the right cord. Sorry ya'll haven't been able to see much of me. Just know I'm having fun and loving the mission!

Much love,

Elder Remund

Warm Christmas Wishes from North Carolina

Wishin' ya'll a Prospero Ano!

Merry Christmas from Southern Mexico!

Written by Sister Justyce Oliphant, serving in the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words links to additional information. Clicking on photos enlarges them. Some names have been omitted for privacy.)

I knew it would happen sooner or later...I´ve caught a bug. Well, from what I understand, it's just a stomach virus. But Friday night I was really, really sick, and all last week my stomach really hurt. Finally Friday night, after puking my guts out, our mission doctor prescribed some medicines. Yep, I don´t know what they are, but they are sure helping me feel better!

Saturday we stayed in the house and just studied, and I slept basically all day. But now, three days later, I feel awesome! I felt really bad because Friday to Sunday I was on a companion exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, and because I was so sick we didn't get much training done. But they said we will be doing it again next month.

Other than that, this week has been alright. My Spanish is definitely improving which is such a relief! I can understand a ton more...well, except when people talk super fast--- then it's still hard for me! I only pick up words. But I am loving Spanish. It's such a beautiful language... speaking it is kind of like a big party in my mouth, trying to get my tongue to move right and pronounce the words the right way. I am just glad I am not learning Tzotzil. That dialect sounds so hard!!

We had our area Christmas banquet on Thursday with our Mission President and his wife. I was at a table with two Elders from Arizona and Idaho! They both are over a year into their missions and both of them said that my Spanish is way better than theirs was! They said it took them 2 or 3 months in the field to understand as well as I do! Talk about a confidence booster! And they also said it took them about 5 or 6 months to be comfortable speaking it...and I am already starting to be comfortable! Hopefully it will keep clicking!

We practice grammar every morning as well as reading out loud to help my pronunciation. It really helps to have Hermana Perez correct me so I say it right! We also practice lessons together so that I will know how to extend commitments and ask questions! I have also been teaching English to a few people. It's really cool how we can teach English and slip in gospel principles! I have also realized how bad my English is... I don´t even know some of the English grammar principles! haha!

I get called "white girl" a few times every day. Everyone is so friendly here and we say buenos dias!, or buenos tardes!, or buenos noches!, and people will reply. It makes me laugh when they reply by saying, "white girl" in Spanish...I am not sure how to spell it, but they say, "Buenos tardes, widita". hahaha! It seriously makes me laugh every time! And then I get cat called or whistled at... it's always an adventure here. Hermana Perez has started singing "Welcome to the jungle," when they whistle at me, but I don´t think it's an appropriate song.

Anyways, yah, I stand out here. Everyone's brown and here I am, the lone white girl in the city, haha!! It's not like Utah where there are all kinds of people. But I am used to people always staring at me, especially on the bus.

Thanks for my Christmas present! (You bought me a heavier winter coat - it's tan! And a new blouse to wear to the missionary Christmas party. Thank you!!)

Well my time is just about up. I love you all! I think about you every day, and I pray for you all by name! Where  are you all reading in the Book of Mormon? I was studiyng Alma, Chapter 5 this morning. I love this chapter. Read it together, okay?

Have a very Merry Christmas. I will admit, I miss the snow!!! It's more fun when it is cold and there is snow!
I am not sure where we are eating on Christmas. We are going to ask Momma, our apartment landlady who we call mom because she is so wonderful to us. We are going to ask her tonight what her plans are. She lives alone with her son. We will see what happens!

I love you! Merry Christmas!

Hermana Oliphant

Ambulance, Police, and Fireworks

Happy New Year from San Cristobal!

Hermanas Oliphant and Perez



Merry Christmas from Denmark! Elder Kolby Madsen

Written by Elder Kolby Madsen, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Danish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted for privacy.)

Mor (Mom),

Elders Wilsher, Madsen, and Whitlock
We will be at Coach’s house for the 25th, so it will be fun. I will call to you around 9 o'clock your time, if that’s okay. Elder Wilsher is my new companion. He is so much fun. We have a ton in common. He comes from England, a little town called Bury St. Edmunds near Cambridge. He is about Nate’s height. He says funny things, but my "proper" English is getting way better because I have to understand what he is saying, haha!





I just used staples and a garbage bag to build our tree. Yeah, it’s pretty ghetto, but thank you so much for the tree. We needed one! Thank you and Deann’s family too. Tell them thanks. (**Note from Kolby's mom: I sent tape. Don’t know what happened to it.) As you can see from the picture, I didn't open anything. So, I am patiently waiting. Elder Wilsher got mad at me because I made him wait, but then I just told him to open them, and now he won’t. It's funny, haha.

Well, this week has been a  little crazy because I was in KØBENHAVN  for a day and a half waiting to get Elder Wilsher. It was great though because I got to see some of the people I was working with there.

We came back to Herning, got settled in, and  went to work on Thursday. We had the great opportunity to go visit C**. She is out of the coma and doing well. As I talked to her, she started to open up about how she still wants to be baptized and there is nothing keeping her from it. Then she said that even though she has had to go through pain, she knows it was well worth it because her son (the one who said she can’t see her new grandson) will be with her for Christmas. That will be the first time in years that her whole family will be together. What a blessing! EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON!!!

We went to Sacrament Meeting yesterday and had 10 people in church. They tried to make me play the piano, but I can’t even do just the right hand (sorry Sister Avery, I forgot). Because it was Elder Wilsher's first day, he bore his testimony. It was great. They told me Saturday night that I needed to speak at the meeting. So I spoke and it was great fun. I don’t even know how it happened. The Spirit took over and when I finished the talk it was 10 minutes before the hour.

So it was a fun week. The Lord has been watching out for us a ton. I love you all and will see you in a couple days! Remember I will be Skyping between 7 and 9 o'clock. This whole eight hour time difference stinks because it just takes all the day away, and those are prime working hours. But it's okay. I will be at Coach's hosue, so I will justify it. I love you. Have a great week.

Glædelig Jule (Merry Christmas)!!

Ældste Madsen

Prayers Needed

Godt Nytår fra Danmark (Happy New Year from Denmark)

Merry Christmas from Chile! - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them. Some names are omitted to protect privacy.)

Hey family and friends!!

What a CRAZY week we have had! AH! To start, I am still here in Ovalle with Hermana Puertas! WOOHOO!!!! We have soooo much work to do here and are cramming to get ready for the baptisms of C** and I** (NACHO!!! HAHAHA!!) They will be baptized on the 29th (Sunday) at 7 PM. We are so excited!!

So, we will be spending Christmas with Sofia and Catalina! We have computers all ready to go with Skype so that we can call you guys! Any news from Jake yet?? I hope that I can talk to him too!

We found another family this week! M** (Mom) and J** (daughter) both have baptism dates for January 11th! Hermana Puertas and I are super busy, and I think this transfer will be full of baptisms! WOOHOO!!!

I think that I am getting tendonitis. My left foot KILLS!! UGH! We walk all day everyday, so my foot is getting really bad. It's been bad for about 4 or 5 days now, and it's not getting better. If it is not better after Christmas, I am going to call the mission nurse and see what she thinks I need to do.

An Elder in our district was sent to the Emergency Room this week because he got appendicitis! Super bad…. He will be back here in Ovalle on Wednesday, but he had his operation yesterday. He is from the United States. Poor kid. What is up with missionaries and appendicitis?!? I think it’s the stress and all of the changes….

We had a stake activity yesterday… and it was a rip off…. Lo siento (sorry), but seriously. Only about 15 people in the ENTIRE stake came. And then all of the 25 missionaries or so that are in our zone. All of us missionaries sang carols in Spanish. That part was good. But it was sad to see that no one came when people have known about this activity for weeks…. It's hard because people don’t come to church activities unless it's really “fun”. Well, hopefully next time we will see more faces there!

Here is a weird thing that happened this week! A lady that we contacted about a week ago ran us down in the street yesterday. She had told us previously not to come to her house anymore because she “doesn't believe in God”. So, that was that, and we thought nothing of it and moved on to the next house. So, she ran us down yesterday and said, “Sisters, I am so sorry for telling you now to come over. I do believe in God, I just didn't want to talk to you because I don’t want to listen. But I do believe in God. And I wanted to tell you that because after you left my house, lots of bad things happened everyday. So I want the bad things to stop. Sorry.” UMMM WOW! Poor thing. That kind of thing happens though when you deny something that is true. Hopefully one day someone will be able to teach her the gospel!

Well guys, I love you SOOO MUCH! I cant wait to talk to you all at Christmas! Two more days!!!! I pray for you all every week. I miss you like crazy! Have a great week, and remember that this time of year is crazy, but it’s a time for family and to remember the Savior. I love you!!!!

xoxoxoxo Hermana Avery

Traffic and Another Earthquake (December 17, 2013)

Happy New Year from Chile (December 30, 2013)

Hermana Avery, Hermana Puertas and the two brothers
who will be baptized this week in their area.

One of the lovely ladies we are teaching in Ovalle.

The Sister missionaries in my Zone.

We missionaries who sang carols for the stake
Christmas activity this week.

Merry Christmas from Mexico!

Written by Elder Brian Burgess, serving in the Mexico Puebla North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish!

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.)

Family!

Okay, so I am no longer in Puebla. I am in the state of Tlaxcala. My area is Zacatelco. My new companion is Elder Valis from Oaxaca. He is sweet! We are getting along great! How are you all??

So, our house is sweet! We live right above a store, and we have two stories. It is a three story building and we get the top two stories! It's so clean, the boiler is right outside our bedroom door, it's a big house, and the bathroom is sweet!

We are a lot closer to another volcano. And so it gets pretty chilly! There is a photo from my last area attached. The grandma was sleeping so I shared a scripture with her. Everyone was laughing. It was hard not to, haha! The next photo was a cool idea I had to buy some tinsel, tape it on the wall, put on some cool Christmas ornaments we received at the mission Christmas party, and put some lights on it. I am a genius.

So, plans for talking on Christmas... I can call the 24th or the 25th. Dad, send me your Skype information. I am setting up an account right now. There is an internet place that will be open. In fact, that's where I am now. They have a webcam and head phones too. We are planning on the 25th to call, if that's cool with everything. Tell me what time would work best for you all.

Love you,

Brian

A Whole New World

Happy New Year from Mexico

Sharing the gospel with everyone :)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ambulance, Police, and Fireworks

Written by Sister Justyce Oliphant, serving in the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Yep, this week has been a fun one!

So last Monday night I received a priesthood blessing because I was really sad, couldn't focus in our lessons, and kept bursting into tears. It really bothered me because, out here on the mission, I don´t cry!! But a nice member of our bishopric gave me a blessing and, even though I did not understand anything, I could feel the power of the priesthood helping me. My companion told me that I was promised that as long as I am faithful and obedient, I will have an amazing experience out here on my mission, and will find happiness and success. I really felt so wonderful after that, and this week was so much smoother and went by so fast!!

We were a little discouraged because none of our investigators were progressing or keeping their commitments. Hermana Pérez and I prayed Saturday night and Sunday morning that we would be able to help our investigators, and also be able to find new people to teach. Sunday morning one investigator was going to come to church with us, but when we got to her house she said she didn't want to go. We walked away really discouraged and sad. We got to the end of the street and were waiting for the bus when she came running up to us and told us to wait for her!! The Spirit definitely heard our cry for help and touched her heart! Then when we got to church, another investigator was there with her children!! And when we were singing the sacrament hymn, the family (we are working with) walked in!! Miracles do happen!!! I can testify that I have already seen so many!!

At our missionary work training meeting last night with our mission president and Elder Reyes of the Seventy, I was able to understand most of what was said!! It made me so incredibly happy!! Another miracle! And then, after the meeting, there was a devotional, but because we didn't have investigators with us, we could not stay so we went to get a taxi and some Elders waited in the rain and let us wait inside. It was so nice of them because I didn´t bring a jacket and it was so cold and pouring rain!!

I thought that we were going to our apartment to teach "mama" (she treats us like her children, but she really is our apartment land lady) who lives down stairs, but we got out of the taxi in a different neighborhood. I was confused, but then a lady started calling to us asking if we were Christians! She was really freaking out and saying something about her son. We went with her to her house and inside was her son and her friend (a lady). Her son was bleeding from both wrists and there was bloody tissues on the floor from trying to stop the bleeding (her son is 25). He was completely drunk and had been hurting himself. We sang a hymn, and he kept trying to grab my hand, put his arm around me, and blowing me kisses.

Finally we got him to sit in a chair across from us and Hermana Perez started talking to him about how much he is loved and really trying to get his mother to stop freaking out. Then he went crazy...not violent, but shaking, and I am not sure what happened. I'm sure he had way too much to drink, and who knows if he had drugs in him or not... but it was really scary. He passed out and we got him to the couch. Long story short, we had to find someone who had a phone we could use (we asked an investigator who lived close by) and we called the ambulance. They came and we left the house and stood in the rain with his mother because she was making the situation worse with her freaking out. We helped her calm down, and the end of the story is that the police ended up needing to be called, but we have curfew and had to leave before the police came. It was definitely something that I will always remember because of how intense it was!

The smell of alcohol is everywhere here. I am used to it. That and the other..bad...smells that I smell every day! It took me forever to get used to it, but I am finally over how ... hmm... different, it smells here.

Oh, I permed my hair today...

The 12th was a holiday, I think about Mother Mary? But there were so many parades, fireworks, partying and dancing. We just worked as normal! There are fireworks that go off about every day. At first it scared me because I always thought that it was gunshots!! But no, it's just fireworks! They aren't the pretty ones though, just the booming ones. You know, the ones that are small bursts of light and really loud? Yep, those ones!

And the food! I can't be picky, so when people ask what I like, I just say anything because everything is so different here. But I do love tamales and tortillas. I eat way too much bread too. I'm probably going to come home looking like a marshmallow, haha! Oh! Marshmallows are called "bon bons"!

Well, I don´t have any more time. Sorry there is a lack of pictures. I can´t seem to figure out how to get them uploaded, sadly...

I love you all!!

Hermana Oliphant

Sister Oliphant Arrives in Mexico

Merry Christmas from Southern Mexico!


A Whole New World

Written by Elder Brian Burgess, serving in the Mexico Puebla North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to more information.)

Well not right now I'm still in the Antequera Ward. I found out Saturday I have changes tomorrow. I will find out tomorrow in a meeting where I will be going, and who my companion will be.

This week I've tried working hard and making it the best week I've had because I had a feeling the changes call would come. I had the chance to go on day exchanges with Elder Dahl the Zone Leader. I was in his ward and area, and it was so nice to get a different view, schedule, faces, and apartment, at least for one day.

Friday night there was a stake Christmas activity during the time I was on the day exchanges with Elder Dahl, so we had to go early to set up. And then it wasn't planned to end until 10:30...Our curfew in the house is 9:30, at the latest. Elder Dahl called President and, surprisingly, he gave us permission to stay up and help them. He told us when we got home to get at least 8 hours of sleep. We ended up not getting home until midnight and slept until 8 a.m... It felt like it was another day back in Utah off the missionary schedule. Cool experience, haha!

Saturday was a very stressful day with all of our appointments falling through. When the changes call came, I felt an excitement for the unknown. It's been tough saying goodbye, but I'm ready!

I love this work, this church, and my mission! I know and testify that God lives, that honestly we have a Father in Heaven with a body of flesh and bones, and He knows us. He loves us! We are children of a God! So what does that make us? Princes and Princesses who can grow on this earth and progress in the Atonement so one day we can receive the crown.

I love you all. You are all in my prayers.

Elder Brian Alma Burgess

Just Working Hard in Mexico

Merry Christmas from Mexico!

Miracles on Main Street - Sister Lindsey Jeppson

Written by Sister Lindsey Jeppson, serving in the Arizona Mesa Mission / Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors' Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Great week as ALWAYS!

I'll give you a run down:

Wednesday: Temple Excursion & Christmas Party & Visitors' Center longest (but best!) day ever! So we did a temple excursion. Within a span of two days (two separate sessions) all the missionaries in our mission went to the temple. The first half went on Tuesday, then the second half (us) went on Wednesday. We had a small testimony meeting, where we heard the testimonies of our President, his wife, and the Temple President. Then we did an endowment session, where I met a temple worker who happens to be our cousin! She stopped me and said, "Sister Jeppson, we're cousins." I forgot her name, but I think it is Vernita. She's the daughter of Aunt Mary Lou, and she's the second cousin I have met on my mission so far. The first was Jill Jacobs. She took our Christmas picture a few weeks ago. Going into the Celestial room was like a mission reunion! SO MANY MISSIONARIES! It took my breath away! We are as the Army of Helaman :)

Right after our temple excursion, we had a mission Christmas party. It was so much fun. They had hand bells and let us "musicians" try it. I am in love. Let's get some hand bells! We played games, had a great lunch, and even did some service. At the end, Clyde Bodine and Freddy Ashby ("Reflections of Christ", look them up!) played a few numbers. The last hymn they played was an arrangement of Hymn #115, Come Ye, Disconsolate. SO GOOD! They had a PowerPoint of pictures from the reflections of Christ playing in the background. I was going strong until I saw a picture of an angel hugging Christ that looked EXACTLY like uncle Bryce...

In the Visitors' Center (VC) I met a guy who's wife is a Jeppson (spelled the same way). Her family is from Idaho, so we're probably related. Does Pete and Lou Lou Jeppson sound familiar?

Saturday: Visitors' Center & Ward Christmas Party

In the VC (morning shift) I saw this guy with long hair looking at the temple panels that we have. I went to talk to him only to find out that he is a recent convert. So we talked, and within 5 minutes he gave me a member referral. Before Christmas lights, I wouldn't have been able to do that, at least not that quick. I found out that he hadn't been to the VC before, so I took him on a tour, then played "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" for him. Afterwards, I taught him a little about apostasy and dispensations. At that time, this guy walked up to us. It was Dad's home teacher in Tucson. It took me a little bit to recognize him. He was the counselor in the singles' ward of the guy that I took on a tour. SMALL WORLD. I have run into lots of your friends dad! It is fun!

Sunday: Visitors' Center

So it was super busy last night. I was floating, which means I just walk around the VC and find people to talk to (my least favorite rotation and the one I get a lot). I was standing in a corner just people watching, and this older missionary called me over and introduced me to two ladies who wanted a Book of Mormon. I gave them each one and asked what questions they had. They asked if Mormons are Christians...kind of funny since we have a giant statue of Christ there for all to see, and our name is, "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints". So, yes, we're Christians, haha! (No, I didn't not answer that way). I said "yah!", and went right into the first lesson. I told them about the first vision in English! First time ever! It was definitely through the Spirit, because I have never shared it in English, only Spanish. It was amazing! The Spirit was so strong! Unfortunately they didn't feel comfortable enough to give me their contact information, but I gave them a Mormon.org card...so who knows.

We just found out that in January three missions in Arizona will have the privilege of meeting and hearing from Elder Jeffery R Holland (Yes! You read that right!)... We're pretty excited :)

Have a great week!!! Have you found that one person to bring to Christ this year?? Remember the talk given by Elder Ballard??

What are you giving to Christ this year?

Love you all!!!

Hermana Lindsey Jeppson

God is our Perfect Parent (December 11, 2013)

Merry Christmas from Arizona! (December 24, 2013)


A Day at the Beach...Missionary Style - Elder Jake Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to more information. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.)

As Christmas gets closer, the weather is getting warmer. Little by painful little. It's really hot in mid-day and back to the 60's by night time. We did a service project as a multi-stake group at the beach, and there was absolutely nobody there besides us. Yep, I guess the water is still really cold.

Well, to elaborate on the service project, we went to Ancon to pick up garbage. We had a phenomenal turnout of more than 250 people, and we wore shirts that said, ''Mormon Helping Hands, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints.'' We got really good exposure from the city and several people were interviewed. That was exciting!

This week, Elder China and I found seven new investigators and some of them are families! Sadly none of them went to church on Sunday, but we have appointments with them this week. We're excited to see if any of them progress. We're getting in the door much easier by sharing a Christmas message. There are a bunch of churches that, for one reason or another, don't celebrate Christmas. So people are pretty excited to hear from a church that believes in Christmas. It's a great opportunity to share the story of Samuel the Lamanite and introduce the Book of Mormon. It's really nice!
Hermana Eva's Christmas Tree
Elder China and I helped decorate it!

Well, let's talk about something fun...healthcare. My American friends, I will never complain about healthcare in the States ever again. The population here calls every illness whether it be a cold, a fever, a stuffy nose, chills, food poisoning, or a headache, the ''gripe,'' which translated means, ''flu.'' When you ask someone how they're doing, they'll tell you, ''I'm with the gripe,'' rather than saying they're just sick in general. This has led to oodles and oodles of remedies and fears of illness. Yesterday we asked a lady what she hopes for from God and she told us at least 10 times, ''First, and most importantly, health. For me, my kids, my grand kids.'' Health and sickness is on the forefront of many people's minds.

So, I haven't really been sick much in Peru. With the weather being bipolar, I'll get a cold or stuffy nose but over all I've been blessed with very good health, especially compared to the other North Americans. This was the case until three or four weeks ago when I got a bad case of the stomach flu or food poisoning. We were walking to an appointment and I felt like I needed to vomit, so we went to a member's house so I could hurl in their bathroom. Afterwards I felt better, so we went to the appointment but they weren't home. Then the sick feeling came back and I threw up about three times at the Bishop's house, so we decided to go home for the day.

Now, let me run through the steps of healthcare, as I've observed it, here in Peru:

1. My companion thought I should receive a Priesthood blessing, so I did.
2. A sister from the ward (congregation) saw us, and when we explained why we were in a rush she picked up a weed from the ground and gave me instructions how to prepare it and eat it.
3. When we stopped by an investigator's house to cancel our appointment, he told me to get to the hospital as fast as I could.
4. As we got home, I was feeling terrible, went straight to bed, and hoped for the end.
5. After explaining to the mom who lives in our house that I thought I just had the stomach flu, she gave me four different pills to take (she works at the hospital, so I took two of the pills and ditched the other two, along with the plant).

In 24 hours I was back to normal and feeling great. Safe to say, it was a miracle that I survived the stomach flu and everyone was happy to see me alive and well :)

I'm giving a talk in church this Sunday, so wish me luck! I wish all a Merry Christmas! I'll be home for Christmas in two years... ;)

Oh, I'm pretty much famous here because of Hannah's companion. Oh, and I found a scripture about eating fruit in South America, Revelations 9:10, haha!

Love,
Elder Avery

Dear Dad,

I'm missing you guys too, don't worry :) Christmas isn't the same in the mission field but hey, it's not about me, it's about Him. It's nice to hear the good things that people do for other people. I've been reading "The Missionary Commission," by Bruce R. McConkie, and it really sets the tone for what I should be doing. I should be serving and ministering in the way Christ would serve and minister. It's a lot of pressure, but little by little I'm getting the hang of it.

I've never had a stronger testimony of the Gospel, but I can't always get through to people. It takes faith to trust in the Lord, and that can be a really hard step for some people...trusting that they will receive blessings if they obey. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, and nothing less. Ugh...I'm a little bummed out.

On the bright side, the Church is true! If nobody else knows it, at least I know it. My mission call says that I will learn what it was like for Christ to minister, and overall it's amazing.

Well Dad, I miss you and hope you're doing well. I may not seem like it, but I'm doing fine. My next preparation day (P-day) will be the 24th, and I think I'm calling home the 24th or 25th. I still don't know. We do have a webcam in the house where I live, so we'll be fine :)

Preparing for Christmas in Peru (December 10, 2013)

Merry Christmas from Peru! (December 24, 2013)

Elder China, Hermanas Eva and Veronica, and Elder Avery


Warm Christmas Wishes from North Carolina

Written by Elder Dallin Remund, serving in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(**Note to reader: Clicking on highlighted words will link to additional information.)

Good mornin'!

How is everyone's Christmas season?

Things are going dandy here on the East Coast. The weather is acting up. The rain has been making the grass super muddy and our car got stuck a couple times at a members' home. Out here in Albertson, there is no such thing as a driveway, just grass. It grows everywhere.

This week was a bit slower. Lots of appointments fell through, people were busy, etc. However, I am still surprised at the generosity that the ward members have to continue to feed us and to come out with us to lessons despite the busy season.

Our investigator, R** (name omitted for privacy) came to church and we had two lessons with her this week. One of the lessons was on the law of chastity. That was my first time actually teaching it to someone who needed to live it. I learned that when you teach that lesson with the Spirit, it really just makes a lot of sense and there's nothing uncomfortable about it at all. She took it well and knows that she needs to get married to her boyfriend. There are a couple of things that will need to be worked out before they can be married, but they have intentions to go forward. We are doing everything we can to keep her spiritually nourished amidst her confusion.

Transfer calls were yesterday and I am..... staying in Albertson! So I've started my 5th transfer in this area. I haven't moved yet! The next transfer calls will be in February. That means I'm going to spend over 6 months of my mission in Albertson. I will definitely remember this area and the ward very well, and chances are they will remember me better, too.

I am glad that I will be spending Christmas in an area with people that I know really well. It is the closest thing to being home for the holidays. I cannot express how blessed I feel to share the gospel and experience its converting power with these wonderful people.

An update on the Spanish; it's coming along really nicely. I can translate in sacrament meeting without much trouble. My vocabulary is intermediate at the moment, but I think the most key thing is that I feel confident talking to Hispanic people and sharing the gospel with them.

A little spiritual insight I had this morning during my study:

I was reading about the gospel of Jesus Christ and I thought of how profound it is that we cannot receive any part of the Gospel by ourselves.

We can't exercise faith in ourselves. Our faith has to be centered on Christ.

We can't repent without His sacrifice for our sins.

We can't baptize ourselves.

We can't place our own hands on our head and give ourselves the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And we most definitely cannot endure to the end without the help of our Savior and his authorized servants.

These are the very reasons the proud cannot progress. They cannot accept that there is a higher authority around that can help them. They are depending on their own strength, and we all know how that ends.
We can all progress if we will just humble ourselves and look to higher sources to help us.

Anyways, I hope you all are in good spirits. Email me if you would like my mailing address. I'll be here till at least February!

Thank you for your love and your prayers! I miss you! Hope to hear from you soon.

Con amor y gratitud (with love and gratitude),

Elder Remund

Good Tidings of Navidad

Merry Christmas from North Carolina!