Thursday, December 27, 2012

CHRISTmas in Denmark

Elder Swenson had a great Christmas in Denmark, and I would like to personally thank two families in particular who I know made it so nice for him: The Jensen family and the Paulsen family. Brother Jensen is the ward mission leader in the Ballerup ward, and Bishop Paulsen is the bishop. Both of these families opened up their homes and fed the missionaries well, several times I'm sure. I thank the Lord for their generosity and know they will be blessed! We were able to skype with Rusty for several hours, and it almost felt like he was with us while we were opening gifts. Elder Swenson will be transferred next week, a bittersweet move, as he has been in this area for ten months and has a few investigators that may be close to baptism.

This is Bishop  Paulsen and his cute family, and his companion, bottom left, and the two other missionaries he lives with.

Picking out a movie to watch at the Jensen's home.

Dinner time with the Jensen family!

L to R: His companion Elder V., an elder from Holland, Elder Swenson, an elder from WVC, the Jensens.

Relaxing and watching a movie at the Jensen's.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Birthday Suit!

And a new birthday coat. Winter has arrived in Denmark. Rusty celebrated his 20th birthday by eating a stack of french toast, courtesy of his comp. Elder V. And the streets are decorated for the holidays!

Excerpts from his last letters:
November 12, 2012
So, the less-active member that we found in our areabook, M. has showed increasing interest in coming back to church.  Since that fireside we had, she's been to church every Sunday after. Yesterday, she had an interview with the Bishop and it sounds like she would like a calling and to bring both of her sons into the church who are 15 and 12.  The Bishop of course was freaking out excited to hear this.  After the interview he called us saying that he had offered our services to teach her and the sons twice a week until they're baptized.  He told us it's "one of the goldest" teaching situations you'll have on the mission.  It's just crazy to think that it started with just finding her name randomly in the areabook from her teaching records when she was investigating herself.  It will be a great contribution to the ward to bring two young men in, especially because there's a pretty big age gap which that will help fill. It's just been awesome to see her excitement in becoming active again. It's been perfect for the Ward, now she has visiting and home teachers. I think the thing that did it for her was just seeing how welcoming the ward is as a family. That's the awesome thing about our church.  When you're a member, you have hundreds of friends as a result, and they're always there for you. 

J. had his Word of Wisdom lesson last Saturday with us and the mission leader.  He took it well, and said he would quit the smoking and be baptized as soon as he feels for himself that Joseph Smith really was a prophet.  So, that's what it's going to come down to with him now is just helping him come to that.  Still very hopeful with him.  C. is right on the doorstep still.  He wants to be baptized, but won't set a date until he feels the wife is completely comfortable with it.  We gave him the number for the Elders in her area and invited him to have her call them to learn more.  We found a very positive new investigator named T. while we were knocking.  He listened to the story of Joseph Smith and we told him that the book was free to take and he said he'd love one, and told us to come back whenever.  The good thing is that he lives about 3 minutes from the church. 

November 19, 2012
It has almost been like an invisible barrier has been put between our cell phone and all of our investigators, including M. and the family.  It has been pretty stinky.  We were able to stop by M.'s last Tuesday though, with the new RM in the ward.  He clicked pretty good with the oldest son as they talked forever about video games.  It was good to see J. come out of the shell a little and to make friends with us.  We had the first teaching appointment set up for last Saturday, but she called an hour before and apologized that they wouldn't be able to make it home in time for the appointment.  Kind of stunk, but we'll hope for 2 more this week so we can get things going with them.  The president is really stressing on getting the people who are progressing focused on baptism now.  I think we'll be setting the two sons' baptismal date in the first visit if it goes well.  So hopefully by next Monday we'll have the good news for all of you!  It still will happen, the Bishop and Mission Leader have been with us on it, too.  C. and J. have fallen under the invisible radio-wave barrier, too.  No contact with them unfortunately.  It's been pretty frustrating, and R. has been just too busy to find time for us this past week.  We took our frustrations out on contacting this week, though.  We talked to tons of people and got some books out, so hopefully something will become of those.  It's really fun actually to go contacting when you're a little down.  We got burned yesterday by a man named T. right after church.  We had an appointment with him, but he didn't show up for it.  We decided to knock the area for an hour or so instead.  For VanDenBerghe and I it kind of gave us a little chip on our shoulders and as a result the contacting went great.  Instead of just leaving the door after hearing a "not interested", we were a little more pushy, or maybe persistent is a better word.  As a result, we got into some good conversations and doorstep lessons that otherwise wouldn't have happened.  Sometimes it just takes that to get you motivated even more.  I'm sure this week will be much better with getting a hold of people though.   People are just naturally flaky and hard to meet with, that's something we've come to learn almost too well being in Denmark. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Loving the Food... and Other Important Things

We have lots of gorgeous pictures of Denmark that Rusty sends home. We also have lots of funny pictures involving FOOD, glorious food. Except for one hamburger that looked gross, maybe some pickled beets on it or something?? Yuck. But the 2 lb. burger looked delish... and some of those pastries... mmmm.

Things are going well in Denmark! Lots of things happening with young people. We continue to pray for those that are investigating or looking for the truth. Here are some excerpts from recent letters:

Wow, it's been a great week here.  Lots going on—first, C. is totally holding his baptism date, and if anything it will be moved SOONER. He came to church yesterday and we  found out that some other members in the ward, D. and E. are from Nigeria, and know C.  When we found that out, it was pretty exciting. I think the fact that they're both from Nigeria and friends already could be perfect in helping him follow through with this Baptism.  But, the date is still set for October 20th, we're within 4 weeks now!

That same day we were knocking and met a woman from South America who had been taught by missionaries 4 years back but moved and lost contact. She has a book and wants us to come back!  We'll be stopping by with a member tomorrow night.  Another thing that was awesome was our lesson with a kid named J.  We met him knocking a couple weeks ago and gave him a book.  He's about 20, has lip rings and listens to metal music.  Wouldn't think he's be the most receptive to missionaries, until we got to know him.  He said he had been through a depression and ended up praying to God one time.  He said he got a strong prompting to investigate the different Christian sects until he found the right one.  We were way stoked to hear that, and showed him the Joseph Smith video.  I think he has a lot of potential, the spirit was definitely at that lesson.  He's going to read and pray, and we have him coming to the youth center tonight with us on top of that! His friend named Martin was actually there randomly for that lesson and sat in for it.  He gained interest as it went on and took a book after the lesson.  We got his number too.  This week was also the record week for books for me personally.  We gave out 7 books this week, which was amazing because we had tons of appointments at the same time.  

Lots of new things happening here, set a baptismal date, and we have two new part member families that we'll be teaching!  First, the Baptismal date!  His name is C. and he's a 28-ish year old man from Nigeria.  He majored in Accounting before coming here to get a master's degree and to work.  He's always been a christian, and e got into a conversation with a Jehovah's witness a couple weeks ago and he actually pulled the Book of Mormon out and asked them, "What makes you think that God wouldn't give us more scripture?"  We were pretty amazed he did that, at the time we had only been teaching him for a week.  We gave him a tour of the church building this last Saturday and sat down in the Baptismal room and taught the Plan of Salvation.  At the end, we just told him how we can follow Christ's example by being baptized and invited him to do it the 20th of October.

We've also started teaching two part member families.  The first is that American woman that has just married a less active member.  We have an appointment for this Thursday!  The other is a less active Mother that has a 15 year old son who isn't baptized.  She would like us to come and teach all of them. 

We were actually area of the week this week, had lots going on, 4 new investigators!  We just started this big complex that is designed for younger people in the college age group in Albertslund.  We've only knocked maybe 2 or 3 buildings so far, but have given out 4 books and have one of the people we met there coming to CUV tonight!  Way excited for that, CUV is a youth center in Copenhagen that we can invite our young investigators to to meet other members in the church and to just hang out a little.  I think for younger investigators, it's just the perfect set up.  They can come and meet tons of people in the church, make friends, and hopefully want to come to church after that.

The companionship is going great, Elder V. is just an awesome stud.  Super easy to be his trainer, he's up on time, cleans up, studies hard and works hard.  On top of that, he's a cool dude.  No complaints, I'm just loving life right now.  Something interesting, just in the 3 weeks of this transfer, I've notice the success going up in general.  The young people want to talk to us, people take books and we have people coming to CUV.  Not sure, be he might have the magic presence or something.  Still set on getting at least one baptism before I get out of this first area, and it's looking very possible now.  I think it would just be awesome to bring some new young people in the church.  Honestly, I think the majority of the church growth here will be with the youth.  They're actually talking alot in the papers here about a religious excitement that's underway with the younger people.  I've noticed it, surprising amounts of the youngsters are at least interested in having a religious chat.  On top of that, they actually want to learn. 

The gross one...

The good one!

Goofy guys

Chowing down

Rusty's companion from Riverton, Elder V.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Festinord! Rusty Plays in the Cathedral

This is the Church of Our Lady, the Cathedral of Copenhagen, where Rusty accompanied a young adult choir with 80 people from 26 countries singing "This is the Christ." Festinord is a Scandinavian young single adult conference that is held annually. You can see Rusty at the far right playing the piano. Too bad they didn't zoom up on him :) This statue of Christ is the original Christus by Bertel Thorvaldsen. 

Here is the outside view of the Cathedral. Will post another slideshow of the awesome pictures Rusty sends home. Denmark is such a truly beautiful place!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Miracle Story

Elder Swenson wrote home about an awesome Miracle Story he had this month:

"We had our first "Miracle Story" in the companionship. It was really cool stuff. We had planned to bus over to an area named Grantofte, and were sitting waiting at the station for the bus to come. As we were waiting I noticed a random bus show up, number 143 heading to Albertslund. There's an area in that direction that we had recently started knocking as well named Topperne.  A random thought came to my mind to just head in that direction instead.  So we drove over there and got to the apartment complex.  As we got there, we weren't sure to start over from the beginning or continue from the last time.  We had knocked a couple buildings a few days prior without a knocking book, so there were some doors that had been skipped.  We finally decided to start over.  The first door knocked was a woman in her 40´s who immediately invited us in.  We came in the living room to find 4 other people already there seated.  We taught the entire family the first lesson and I had never seen a more positive and more interested group of people my entire mission.  As we got to know them in the conversation, I found that they had just moved from Sweden a year ago so that the whole family could live together.  They area all Christian in beliefs, but not sure on what church to join.  

Something very cool is that the mother had been thinking and praying about which church the family should join just before we knocked on her door.  Hard for me to believe that we weren't guided to her door that day.  We gave everyone in the family a book of mormon and they all were excited to read.  We met with them two days later (Last Friday) and watched the Restoration with them.  Unfortunately, the parents were gone that time so we didn't have everyone together, but they were able to see it later.  We have another appointment with the whole family set for Wednesday.  Very excited for them!  They didn't make it church yesterday, but already want to come next week.  I'll keep you posted with them.  I think we'll invite them to Baptism on Wednesday if all goes well.  Another awesome thing is that we gave out 9 books this week and almost 10.  The tenth is a Pakistani man that we'll stop by to give an English copy to.  He said he would be interested though.  It's exciting to see new people coming into our Investigator list, I know that's the way to Baptisms, so we're working on finding them!  The companionship has been a blast, I think we're almost too good of buds."

His miracle story was featured in the monthly mission newsletter.... Awesome stuff!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A New Companion and District Leader Assignment

This is the new district leader, Elder Swenson, with his new companion, Elder Christensen. Wait, seriously, this is his new OLD companion—his roommate from the MTC! Going from "greenie" to District Leader is quite a switch, but we know Elder Swenson is up to the task. "Who the Lord calls he qualifies."

Elder Christensen has three older brothers that all served in Denmark. AND, his grandma lives in Denmark, not far from where they are serving, as well as some other relatives. There is a reason missionaries are called to certain missions!

From his last letter:
Well, my world has been flipped officially. I went from basically being treated like a greenie to being DL. The first week hasn't been too bad though, I picked up Elder Christensen at the train station Wednesday morning and went straight to work after that. The first couple days were definitely a little rough because of very few appointments, which left us to knocking and stop-by work. It gave me a taste of what some of the areas are like in this mission. In Ballerup, we're super lucky to have as many appointments as we do. ... It was nice to see some results from our efforts though, we have 3 new investigators that we will be teaching this week and 2 that have been picked back up that we hadn't been teaching lately.  Actually we have 4 teaching appointments and an eating appointments set for just this Tuesday, so we're pretty well set for the week.  All of the new people are very positive so far, so very excited to teach all of them.  

It hasn't been too stressful of a workload as a District Leader, just a little extra work at the end of each day calling people.  We're having a District Meeting this Friday, which will be a good time.  Basically in those you just set some goals and help each other out with investigator problems.  That's pretty crazy how hot it's been up there, the past two days we've actually been freezing here!  Yesterday walking home from church I was seeing my own breath.  It was dumping rain all day, which made for a fun time walking around knocking doors.  It was crazy to go on splits with DJ, who's Elder Christensen's older brother. 

I love the bakeries up here.  Everything is super fresh and rich.  The language is still the usual up and down.  Some days I feel like a professional, and other's I feel downright retarded.  It's funny how it is in learning another language, it's the exact same with other missionaries.  But I've been working my butt off at it, that's for sure.  I have a little notebook that I always have on me.  If I ever see a word I don't know I'll write it in their and review it whenever I'm on a bus or something.  So that way I know a bunch of random words people don't expect me to know.  I would say the hardest part of it is taking new words and actually using them when you speak.  I'll hear them used and know what they mean, but it's a whole different thing when you have to have them at your disposal when you speak. 

So, unfortunately we don't have a baptismal date right now.  But the top two guys that we've been working with will hopefully have another this week.  Right now, I'm more excited about the new investigators.  I think if we get a baptism in this area, it will be more likely to come from somebody newer than one of these people we've been teaching forever.  We still work with them though.  It's been a new experience taking the lead in lessons. It's forced me to learn the lessons better and learn how to be smoother in teaching. I've had some good practice just this last week though, we've taught 2 first lessons right at people's doorsteps and both times it went surprisingly well.  I got to go to another baptism this last Saturday.  A lady from Madagasgar was baptized.  It was super inspiring to hear the stories and talks about how she was found and how the spirit worked on her.  It always gives us motivation to keep looking for people like that in our own areas.  Hopefully one of these new people we teach will be able to feel it.  So, that's pretty much it, it's going well.  It could always be better, but I won't complain. We've had good enough success to keep us motivated, and we won't have anymore unless we earn it out there.  Thanks for all the letters. 

Love you all, and have a bombing week!
Ældste Swenson

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transfers and Plans

Great letter from our Elder today! We found out that transfers are taking place in two weeks. BUT, Elder Swenson will stay where he is, only his companion and the other two elders in their apartment are being transferred. Elder Christensen, his companion from the MTC, is being transferred into Elder Swenson's area and they will be companions once again! The exciting news is that Elder Swenson will be Senior Companion, and the two of them will be responsible for their entire area. I know they will live up to the task! I think it is both humbling and flattering for Elder Swenson knowing his mission president has the confidence in him to entrust such a great responsibility.

The other exciting news is that he gets to play a piano solo this Sunday for a fireside where Elder Marlin K. Jensen will be presiding. We met Elder Jensen several years ago when he came to our Stake Conference. Great man! So humble and sincere, a true man of the Lord. I hope Rusty will get to meet and talk with him personally. I'm also thrilled Rusty decided to play my personal favorite, "If You Could Hie to Kolob." I'd give my left foot to be there! I love hearing him play this piece and I know it will touch the hearts of many. I hope he uses this opportunity to talk to people about what they felt when they heard it, so he can let them know it is the Spirit of our Heavenly Father. And then they will want to feel it more and know more about the gospel.

P.S. Above is a photo of Rusty and his beloved Kebab... and his favorite chocolate milk drink!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What We Learned from Four Hours of Skyping!

Wow, we really did skype with Rusty for over four hours today! But we had a lot of catching up to do and we learned lots of things about Denmark. Things like:
l. Deodorant isn't big in Denmark... in fact Elder Swenson cannot find deodorant/anti-perspirant brands like in the U.S.
2. Sounds like fashion is stuck in the '80's... or maybe they are ahead of us in a retro way.
3. Kids, especially boys, are wearing American sports paraphernalia... but it's older. Teams and logos like the Blazers, the Bulls, you name it, from about 20+ years ago.
4. Most households don't have dryers, and they hang their laundry up to dry. Even in the winter. Just inside (we hope.)
5. Most households don't have dishwashers. Well they do, but they are human.
6. Bathrooms are really basic, the plumbing is primitive, in that the hose from the shower drains into the one and only drain in the bathroom for everything else.
7. There are lots of really OLD castles in Denmark.
8. Lots of atheists in Denmark, but they are willing to listen to the message.
9. Kebabs are a big hit with all the missionaries, they are like huge burritos with lamb meat, creamy sauce, onions and lettuce.
10. AND, the number one thing that all Moms want their missionary sons to avoid in the summer—girls going topless! At the beach, at the park, or wherever the mood strikes them. Yikes!
Thanks to the Keyser family for letting him use their laptop for so long. And for feeding him! We also got to "meet" his companion, virtually that is. Elder Stoffey seems like a lot of fun. He walked into the room with these crazy Elton John sunglasses on. It made me laugh. It was an awesome day!!! Best Mother's Day ever, and Best Mother's Day gift!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An awesome email from a ward member in Denmark

I received this email on Sunday, three days ago:

Dear all,

So tonight your sons came to our house for dinner. What a delight for us. Some of you have received a mail from me before,so you know the drill. I am a missionary mom myself, and I am so hoping right now that someone else fed my son tonight. So won't you please pay it forward, so we can keep the chain going. My husband Henrik and I love having the missionaries for dinner. They are always great company and they eat anything we serve happily. Our son, Chris is serving his mission in the Portugal Lisbon mission, and at this moment he has almost been out for 6 months. The time has literally flown by, and before we know he will be back home with us.

His girlfriend Lisa, is living with us, and is currently waiting to go on her mission to England, Leeds. So we get to do this whole thing with missionary farewell and the airport drop off again soon. We are looking forward to soon getting her great letters from England.

Your children are all making such a difference here in the Copenhagen area. Some of them are quite new to Copenhagen, so we don't know the all that well yet. But this mail I will just have to tell you about Elder Swendson, who plays the piano outstandingly. For our stake conference last weekend he accompanied the stake choir. The normal director was sick and in the hospital, and in the last minute I was asked to lead the choir. As it turned out no material had been selected, and the choir had to give a 30 minute concert prior to the main Sunday session. We quite literally had no one in the stake who on such short notice could play the material I had selected. So elder Swendson to the rescue. He did an outstanding job, and he will probably be scared of me for life. But given the chance he will probably play for me again. Anyway... great job there mama Swendson. I am a piano teacher, who suffered greatly in order to make piano players out of my two sons. I sort of succeeded, but no to the degree you did. My son Chris who is in Portugal is a great musician, but he plays the base, and the guitar, and the sax... and some piano. I will write you again when I have gotten to know the other elders a little better. They all looked well, and summer is coming so they are no longer cold.

Thanks for sharing your kids, and have a great rest of the Sunday.

Susanne Bryde

Proud missionary mom (And Henrik my husband who wants to make sure that you know he cooked some of the dinner:)

Spring in Denmark

Spring is absolutely beautiful in Denmark and Elder Swenson has been sending home gorgeous pictures for us to enjoy. Here are some excerpts from letters over the past six weeks:

March 26

Hej familie, Today we finally get P-day though, we're going to check out the Domkirke in Roskilde then go to Svogerslev to check out those gravesites from our ancestors finally. Our investigator will potentially get baptized this Saturday if all goes well. If not it will likely be next Saturday, but we'll leave it up to our Bishop to make sure he's completely ready. We'll have the bishop to his lesson tonight and he'll be making sure on all of that. He's 78 and lives in an assisted living center right now but may move back home if all goes well. He's been investigating for 60 years now and has been active in the church in the past but never baptized. Lately, he's been too sick to come to church but still wants to be baptized and to do temple work for his wife and other people in his family. We're hoping all goes well tonight, and if I could have a baptism this Saturday! Me and Ældste Larsen were up there for a day, went to a couple appointments and did some contacting. It's pretty crazy, we were two noobs but we made it alright. He's only been here 2 months longer than I have, so it was crazy for him to be senior companion for a day. Their area is awesome though, the member who they live in the basement of, Richard took us on a drive through the countryside on the way back from an appointment with an investigator. It was pretty cool stuff, saw my first old school windmill and some gnarly forests and what not.

One thing that has been a bit rancid this week is the weather. The past week it warmed up tons and we didn't need coats for like 5 straight days. Now, the past two days have been windier than a hurricane and freezing. The wind here is crazy, it's pretty well a tornado every day. Yesterday I almost got knocked over by a gust it was pretty funny. I was standing with my luggage bag full of my stuff from splits waiting for a train. I picked it up to check something and a huge gust almost knocked me over and I did a snazzy foot trick to avoid falling over. Then these old ladies behind me were like "Pas på, det blæser en lidt" Pretty much, "watch out idiot, it's windy?" It was good stuff. That would probably be one of the funnier things that happened this week. Too bad no one had a camera, it would have been Youtube worthy. Anyways, it's been another good week, hope you're all doing good. Only about a month now and we'll be Skyping, can't wait! Take care, talk to you guys on Monday.

April 2

Hej Familie! Today we have P-day as usual though, we just played Basketball and are heading to some turf fields to play some Amerikansk Fodbold. I think this is the third P-day in a row we've done the same thing but I have no complaints. Every time we play football at the parks here there will be like 3 or 4 people that stop and take tons of pictures of us. Not sure why, but good publicity at least. It's been a crazy, busy week. We led the mission in hours worked, which was 50. Two of the days have been on splits which has made it even crazier. On Saturday, I had to play Senior Companion for about 6 hours, and was my first time having to manage bus and train routes to get places. It was a bit of a mess, but still we got some work done and found our way back home after everything. Unfortunately, our baptism fell through on Saturday. Personally, I felt that it was a bit rushed so I'm glad we can give him time now to think about it and make sure he's ready.

We had a few first lessons with people this week that were positive. One was a man from Africa who is very religious and wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon. We stopped by and talked with him about it's purpose and read scriptures for about an hour. Definitely wasn't a lesson by the book, but we answered what questions we could for him and committed him to read a chapter and to pray on it.

Conference was great, I would say it was definitely different watching it as a missionary. Had a different focus watching it this time, and sleeping actually wasn't a temptation which was great. I would have to say my favorite talk was Uchtdorf's when he gave the advice "Stop it". It's crazy how easily you can allow your mind to slip into only focusing on the grind of every day instead of the real purpose of our lives. That's one of the reasons I'm grateful for Conference, it always leaves you with a renewed sense of purpose and knowledge of your purpose. Little things don't really matter anymore when you look at them in God's eyes. I like how in one talk they talked about how when people have near death experiences they suddenly become more spiritual as they realize what really is important. They had the gym streaming it in English which was nice, all the missionaries watched it in there. I don't think I could keep up with all the big words they throw down in Danish. I love how Christopherson said "translate that!" in his talk. I feel bad for the translators, that's got to be a tough job. Well, I think my fingers are sore now, I think I should have covered most the interesting things that went down this week. Thanks for the support, and all you do for me. It makes it easy to be a missionary. Love you all! Ældste Swenson

April 10

Hej familie! It's been another good week, other than the freezing weather. It's pretty annoying, I thought Spring was finally here a few weeks ago. We had about 5 days in a row with nice weather, then it started raining and snowing pretty close to every day since then. I think I forgot to tell you when I got the Easter package, but it looked like it took only about 5 or 6 days. I think I've eaten everything from it except the Bugles, which I'm working on right now. It's crazy how good that stuff tastes knowing that it comes from 5,000 miles away. I had to fight the 3 other Elders in my apartment to keep them off the Gummy Worms too, they don't have stuff like that up here, so those were the first to get devoured. Sounds like you guys had a bombing Easter, that was an awesome picture of Jackson you sent me Mom, haha. The kid already looks older and it's only been like 4 months. We celebrated our Easter with 7 of our investigators in Church and about 34 other guests that the members brought. So as you guys could probably figure out it was a crazy day for 2 missionaries to manage that many guests. It was awesome though, we had F. come for the first time since I've been here, and we're feeling good about his baptismal date now, which was moved to the end of April. We visit him almost every day right now. We got to bring another investigator named Sarah to the President's Easter Fireside later that day too. She's been one of the most positive investigators so far, we've only taught her for 5 days, and she's already been to church and and a fireside. She was actually the person I gave my first solo Book of Mormon out to a few weeks ago before we started teaching her, so I'm glad to see something came of that.

I'm pretty stoked for this week, we have tons of stuff going on. I'll be going on splits again to Hillerød with Elder Greenhalgh tomorrow, coming back on Thursday. We're meeting with 2 potential investigators on top of that, we'll hope to get through the first lesson with both of them. I had a Greenie moment this past week, which I'm grateful for now that it's over, but basically I just blanked in one of our lessons. It was just a "Bad Danish Day" as we call them, just couldn't think of anything to say the entire lesson. So the next day for studies I went over the entire lesson and pounded it out pretty hard. I'm feeling it's pretty well down for the most part. I finally played piano in Sacrament meeting on Sunday for the Easter Program, played Lead Kindly Light. It went very well, had lots of people come up and talk with me after.

For P-day yesterday, we went over to Klampenborg, which apparently is the richest area in Denmark. I would probably believe it, it's right by the shoreline and all the houses are huge. We hit up an Ice Cream place for lunch, where we had gigantic cones. Me and Elder McDonnell and Broschinsky got the Lydolpher cone, which is famous among missionaries. It's basically a cone the size of my head. It was a mess, but we all got it down without puking. Earlier, we went to an outdoor musuem with old Danish homes from the 1600's everywhere. That was pretty cool to see, the doors in the houses were about 4 feet tall, which made me feel like I was in the hobbit houses in the Lord of the Rings. I should have sent you an invite to look at them, let me know if that page is being stupid and not letting you get on to see the pictures. Well that's about it, it's going great as usual. Thanks for everything, it was good to hear from all of you this week. Love you all, Ældste Swenson

April 17

Hey Fams! It was good to hear from all of you this week! Let's see, I'll get answering all of Mom's questions first. So that huge ice cream cone was called a Lydolpher. Not exactly sure what it means, but it's from an ice cream place in Klampenborg. It was a good couple pounds, pretty well gigantic. It's 5 scoops of ice cream, 5 wafer thingies, and about a pound of soft ice over the top coated in chocolate powder. I would say it's the best ice cream I've ever had. Crazy stuff. Yeah, I ended up playing in that Zone Conference in March, just played the same song. Thought I told you guys about that, my bad. It went really well though, everyone was surprised that I could play.

I got that video of Jackson, haha it's crazy to see our house and everything. The dude's dribbling like a champ already. Didn't see the hoop too well, but it looked nice. Feel free to keep sending the videos, it's way cool to watch them. Yesterday was another awesome Sunday, we had 5 investigators in Church. It was the most we've had besides Easter. One of them we weren't able to talk to the whole week, but she still showed up. Our investigators have tons of potential, it's fun to work with all of them. Right now, we're focusing the most on F. and S. We meet with both several times each week. S. has only been taking lessons for 2 weeks, and we're trying hard to get her to pray. For some reason, she hasn't been very willing to do that, but has come to church and read tons. She promised last night to pray before next lesson though, so hopefully she follows through. We've been meeting with a lot of new investigators which has been fun too. We taught a 20 year old this past week named S. The first lesson went very well, and we'll call him up this week to see if he wants to keep meeting with us. The Danish is getting better still. Yesterday in Church I was amazed at how well I could understand everything. I was talking with a few people about random stuff and was able to keep up rather well. It's interesting how it goes with learning a language though. One minute you'll feel like a champ, then the next you'll feel like a complete noob. It's pretty funny sometimes.

Glad you guys got those pictures, that Svogerslev Church is one that our ancestors are buried next to. I heard that after 100 or 200 years, they will re-use the grounds of cemeteries, and will take the headstones away from the older people. I'm not sure why they do that, there's tons of room for people, but the Church yard cemeteries are really small and that's where a few of our ancestors were buried. Didn't find any of them, but I figure that's because it was next to a bigger city. We're going to take a trip down to Vordingborg and Nyråd in a couple weeks. There's a church in Nyråd, which is a very small town. Maybe a few of them will still have their headstones there. It will be really cool to find some though. Well, it's going great. Mission life really isn't hard, just busy and crazy for the most part. Thanks for everything, love you all. I'll see you all in 3 weeks! Elder Swenson

April 23

Hey fams! So it looks like two weeks from this Sunday and we'll be Skyping! I'm way stoked for that. It's been an interesting week in Ballerup, we had transfers this last week and tons of stuff going on. Our apartment is usually used as the holding place for missionaries during transfers and conferences, and this week we had both. Tuesday night there were 9 people staying in the apartment, so it was a bit cramped. We've been on splits for 3 days this last week also. Some good news from this week is that we have 2 new progressing investigators. One is named T., from China. He's a Buddhist, but is still interested in learning about other religions. He's in his early 20's. The other is only 16, and lives with his single Mom. His name is N. His Mom hasn't been interested, but he actually said a prayer at the end of our first lesson. That was the soonest I've seen anyone willing to say a prayer, usually it takes a commitment to get them to pray, and they'll do it outside of the lessons on their own. S. is still progressing fast, we haven't taught her a month yet and she's been to church twice and a fireside. We're having another lesson with her this week to follow up on the prayer invitation.

So yesterday was Stake Conference, and was a crazy day. They have a huge music program during Stake Conference where they put together a Stake Choir to sing about 10 songs before and during the program. As it turns out, the Pianist for the program had some weird health problems just before Sunday and the choir lady heard I played piano. Long story short, she gave me about 50 or 60 pages of brand new music on Friday night to have ready to perform by Sunday. So most of it was sight-read on the spot but it went surprisingly well. Got lots of compliments after which was a great sign. It was definitely some good sight-reading practice, so I won't complain too much. Have a good week everyone. Love you all! Ældste Swenson

April 30

Hey Family! It's been an awesome week here, just tons of work as usual. It's been tough with F. and his health unfortunately. He ended up in the Herlev Hospital again this last week with heart problems and is back in the Psykiatrisk Center in Ballerup. He's still very interested in Baptism, and we've visited him 3 times this last week to talk and read the Book of Mormon with him. It's funny, he takes every opportunity to talk about the Book of Mormon with other people. He'll usually tell us about how he'd talked with the nurses there or the other old people about the church. We're just amazed that he hasn't been baptized yet, he's been active with the church for over 60 years now. Our other positive investigator S. is doing well too. We've taught her twice this last week. She's been praying more often, and we watched two General Conference talks with her on her computer for our last lesson.

We still have a few other investigators that are progressing pretty well, but nothing super notable. Just been teaching tons of first lessons. I would say finding is one of my favorite parts of Missionary Work, just thinking about all of the possibilities that are out there. Yesterday was pretty cool, we were just out knocking right after Church and gave out 3 Books of Mormon in a row. It felt like we were on fire, and it's always awesome to get them out there. It was pretty crazy, on Saturday we went to stop by a member's house for an 80 year old lady's birthday. It turns out she is Elder Christensen's grandma. He's the way cool Elder from the MTC I would always play basketball with. He's in Skive right now. It turned out that half of his family was there and they pretty well spazzed when they found out that I was his friend from the MTC. Apparently he had been writing home about how him and I would dominate in Basketball at the MTC, so I felt like a celebrity at that birthday party. I think his Mom took about 50 pictures with me to send to him, not exaggerating too much on that one. You guys should have gotten an email from Susanne Bryder with a picture of our eating appointment last night in it. That's the choir conductor I played the piano for at Stake Conference. She was awesome and made us a huge dinner for the help. The food was pretty well amazing, had deep fried zucchini, frikadellers, potatoes and American soda. Probably one of the best eating appointments I've had up here. She made me play the piano after, which actually went pretty well. Just tried playing a few things from memory, but I was still able to play a little, surprisingly. I thought it would have all been lost, with how long it has been. She talked about having me play for a youth choir in a cathedral in Copenhagen when an apostle visits. Can't wait to Skype, that will be in a couple weeks now. Take care everyone, love you all! Ældste Swenson

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baptisms on the Horizon...

Excerpts from last three letters:

Hey family,
It's crazy how fast time is going by, doesn't seem like I've been here a month already. Det har været bare en anden travl uge af arbejde igen. Men, vi har lavet en Dåbesdate med en af vores undersøger. Det vil være på April 7th hvis det al går godt ind til dengang. Thought I'd throw a little Danish in there, probably still written wrong but you guys can probably Google it and figure it out. This week has been a lot of fun though with tons of work. Our area has been very busy since I started with Stoffey when I got here. We've had pretty good success just this and last week especially. We've been able to teach quite a few lessons on the spot, and have given out tons of books. Not sure if I told you guys, but our area was "Area of the Week" last week. We're pretty well rolling right now. Actually I should say Stoffey is rolling right now, because basically all I'm doing is following him everywhere like a dog. But, the Danish is still improving. I'm not to the point where I could converse easily yet, but I can pick up most things that are in my vocabulary. Today's been an awesome P-day so far, and sorry this is such a short letter but we're in a hurry to get to our next destination on our "castle tour." We started at Frederiksborg Castle, then headed up here to Helsingør which has Kronborg castle. I would say Kronborg is probably the coolest thing I've seen since coming here. You can see Sweden pretty easily from the waterfront, I would guess it's about a mile away. I've been looking on family search for some potential gravesites to go check out. Still looking for some closer to my area, but we have a ton in Vordingborg that are buried down there. All the food here is good... REALLY good. I don't really eat meals anymore, I just eat all day. Everyone that watches me eat wonders how I'm not 400 pounds.

"So next P-day we're going to head into Roskilde to look at the dome church. On top of that I found a huge line of ancestors that are buried in Svogerslev just outside of Roskilde in the Svogerslev kirkegård so we're going to check that out next P-day. The line is from Charlotte Petersen on Dad's side. Her mom, Flora was born in Roskilde and her Dad's line which are the Johansens are all from Svogerselv for a few generations. So I wrote down all the names and years and we'll go look for their headstones on Monday. It's way nice, we have Alle Zone bus and train passes so we can basically go anywhere around greater Copenhagen on P-days.

Hej Familie!
It was good to hear from all of you this week, sounds like there's tons going on at home. It's only been 3 months and you're remodeling a bathroom, buying a basketball hoop and a car. I'm not going to recognize our house when I get home. It's been another busy week here with tons going on, I'll make sure I get it all in this letter for you guys. The Danish is slowly improving everyday, it definitely gets frustrating sometimes with how slow learning a language can be and how long it takes but I can see some serious progress at the same time when I look back to my first day here. We've met a ton of people this week contacting, and have a few new investigators. One is from Africa, I think Zimbabwe and is very positive. This last Friday was her first sit-down lesson with us and it went amazing. The spirit was pretty well filling the room and she started crying when we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation. I would say it was definitely the most spiritual lesson I've had on the mission. By the end of the lesson we brought up baptism and set a tentative date for June 9th. She said that she would like to be baptized but is going to Africa for 3 weeks starting this Saturday so we're hoping to get her reading out of the Book of Mormon while she's gone. Her name is Anita, but that may be spelled wrong, that's just how it sounds. She doesn't speak any English, just Portuguese and Danish. It kind of stinks with the timing of her trip and everything but hopefully she maintains interest, that's why we're going to ask her to read while she's gone. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

The other investigator with the date is Mr. F. He's been working with missionaries for a long time, and this isn't his first baptismal date. It's been tough with his health to get him to church, but he tells us every lesson that he knows it's true. The date is still set in April, but will probably have to be pushed back again, he ended up in the hospital this week unfortunately. He has a lung condition that I don't know the name of, but it makes it tough for him to breath at times and very tough to come to things like church where he's sitting up-right for a long time. We had a fast yesterday for him though, and we're just hoping that we can work something out with him to get him baptized. He's very interested in doing temple work for his wife, who passed away a year ago. That seems to have been his motivation to keep trying to be baptized, so hopefully we can get it done.

I haven't played the piano yet, but will in Zone conference this week. The ward choir director asked me to play on Easter Sunday, where there's going to be tons of non-member guests that the members will be inviting, so I'll make sure it's good. I'm surprised at how few people play the piano here. I thought if anything, more people here would play than in the states but it's actually fewer. I just noticed that my English is rapidly declining because of all the Danish cramming I've been doing for 3 months. Sorry if there's a trillion commas in this letter. Glad you guys enjoyed the Danish candy, that stuff is amazing. I haven't eaten anything I didn't like here, it's been awesome. The only problem is that I'm eating about 4 times what my companion eats. And according to him, I've been forcing him to eat more because I'm always eating.

That's crazy that Sterling's leaving already, tell him good luck for me. I'm stoked for him, that's going to be an awesome mission. Yesterday we had an interesting sacrament meeting, the area 70 from Sweden was there, and President Andersen was there with all of the Stake Presidency. The area president spoke Swedish and had to have the temple president translate for him which was cool to hear. I was surprised at how different the language is from Danish. I basically could pick out maybe one word from each sentence. I wouldn't have thought Swedish would be that much different. The weird thing is that Norwegian and Danish are almost the exact same language, and I've heard that it's possible for a Dane and a Norwegian to converse with each other staying in their own language. I thought that was pretty cool, the area President was Olsson. Well, that pretty well covers the week, I read all of your emails while writing this, so hopefully I got everything you all wanted to hear. Thanks for all the letters you send me, I'll work on that Book of Mormon insert for you Mom. I'll let you know when I give it out, that will be cool. Don't worry about the English, pretty well everyone here speaks it very well. Talk to you next week, love you.
Ældste Swenson

Monday, March 5, 2012

Having a Great Time!

What's up family,
Just another P-Day here, it's been an awesome week so hopefully I can get everything into this email. First, we had splits with Allerød on Tuesday so I went up there with Elder Greenhalgh. It was a fun time, had a typical full day of work in their area, went to a couple appointments with their investigators and did some contacting for a few hours after. I'm pretty jealous of their area too, they have Frederiksborg castle and a couple others that I forgot the names of already, but they get to drive by Frederiskborg about 10 times each day on the way to their appointments and everything. So far I would say that's been my favorite thing to see here is the castles, I think we might be heading to one today if I can find a way to get the others off their computers to come with.

This last Saturday we went on splits again, but this time it was with a member in our Ward. His name is Nickolai, he's almost 18 and is pretty set on going on a mission. Basically I went with him and Elder Stoffey went solo as we contacted down Frederikssundvej for a mile or two. That was the first time I was forced to take the lead in the contacting and everything which actually turned out to be really fun. It was a good practice in Danish, as I had to repeat my words about a trillion times while we were contacting but it ended up going very well. We gave out 3 Mormon's Bøger, which were my first three given out while I was actually doing all the talking. The language can still be a blur most of the time, but I'm learning to work with what I know. It's fun to just sit back sometimes on the trains and busses here and listen to other people talking, trying to pick everything out of what they say. I can see how tons of missionaries can be stressing out of their minds when they get to the field, especially when it's foreign and they're not familiar with the language, but I'm just trying to enjoy it all I can.

Elder Stoffey and I gave a lesson in church yesterday which went well. After church we pounded about 5 bottles of Cocio which tasted amazing. I would say that's my favorite drink so far up here. It's chocolate milk in a bottle, and usually the cheapest drink in the stores here so we'll buy about 10 bottles a week and go Mike Tyson on them. It's been fun living in our apartment, I think I told you guys, but we have 4 missionaries in there. I think there's only one other in the mission like that, usually it's just you and your companion. The other two are the zone leaders Elder Veach and Bailey. I'm pretty sure Bailey sent Mom an email the first week here which I thought was funny. If he sounded special at all, that's just how he jokes around. He's actually fairly normal for the most part. I'm just glad they're all cool guys, we've been getting along very well for the most part. My trainer is doing good, we had a pretty confrontational weekly planning session last Friday at Mr Chicken. There was actually someone there taking pictures of our fight, so I went ahead and posted them on my Picasa page. That's been our favorite place to eat out, usually we'll do our planning their each Saturday while we eat Cheeseburgers. It's a great time, and already has become a tradition.

Tomorrow we're going to be doing a few call backs from some positive contacts we ran into last week which could lead to some new investigators. It's going well with our current investigators, we have a couple very positive ones that we both feel good about. The big thing has been getting them to church, which is tough here when the building is about a 30 minute drive from most people. I'll let you all know when anything huge happens with any of them, I'm excited for most of our investigators though, I think they all have tons of potential, it's just been a matter of helping them progress further. I would say the majority of them have already said they know the Book of Mormon is true which has been very encouraging, and I've been surprised with how many people we've been finding on the streets who have an interest in the church. There's definitely people here that have been prepared for the word, it's just our job to find and help them. It's exciting to get out every day, I would say one of my favorite jobs here already is just straight-up contacting. We get to talk to almost 100 new people each day here, out of which we'll usually have a conversation or even a lesson with a quarter of them. And there's no shortage of people to work with. There's about 5 million people in the country and only 40 missionaries here at one time. That means there's loads of people who haven't even heard of the gospel yet, which gives us some responsibility every day. I'm stoked for this next week, hopefully it's another good one, I'll let you all know how it goes. Thanks for everything, love you guys.
Ældste Swenson

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week Two in Denmark

Hey Dad,
That's awesome to hear the good news from home. It's crazy to hear about friends heading out to the field, makes me feel really old. And the baptism sounds like it was awesome. It's going really well in my area. We have 9 investigators currently, which is one over the mission's standards of excellence. One we picked up my second day here. He's a Danish man who works as a moving truck driver all around Europe. We stopped in and talked for about 15 minutes and he was very accepting of everything we talked about. He had been way busy after that, so we were worried he lost interest, but last Friday he called and said he wanted to hear more and invited us over tonight for dinner at his apartment. So hopefully it keeps going well with him.

The other investigators are progressing pretty well for the most part. We're working with one in particular, he had a baptism date set, but wasn't able to make it to church because of a health condition. He is in his late 70's. He has accepted everything very well, it's just been hard to get him to church. There's a really interested couple we're teaching from Poland. They speak perfect English so we have English lessons with them. The husband is one of the smartest people I've ever met, but still believes in the Godhead which is pretty amazing. The big challenge with them is getting them to identify what promptings come from God and what our minds make up. He actually was taught by my MTC teacher, Brother Pullan for a while then stopped seeing missionaries until my companion Elder Stoffey visited them. He has nothing against being baptized, but wants to learn more beforehand. Those are probably the more positive investigators we have, a couple others are taking the messages very well but are still newer so I'll let you know on them as it goes. It's exciting to watch the ones that have a desire to learn more and to be more faithful. It's pretty rare in Europe for people to have that desire, but we've been able to find some.

The everyday contacting hasn't been too bad either. We usually knock doors in upgangs (apartments) or just regular neighborhoods. Most people don't want anything to do with the church, or God for that matter. But, we've been able to give a few books out and have picked up three investigators since I've been here. The area has around 300,000 people, so our strategy is just to get out as much as possible and give as many people we can an opportunity. The Danish isn't perfect yet, but I'm able to understand the people more everyday and I can communicate decently enough to do my job. It's going to be fun if I can get fluent enough to sound like one of them. I've heard of a few missionaries being asked where in Denmark they were from. For now though, people just ask where in America I come from. Hopefully I get there, that would be fun. It's going good up here, let Mom know I'm still looking for a present for her birthday. It turns out I won't need the $600 for a bike here. All the areas are either car or public transit. And the areas where you could use a bike, the old missionaries have left bikes. On top of that none of the missionaries use them, so that will be good to not have to pay that. If I can find enough of it, I'm going to send you all some chocolate from up here. The chocolate is pretty well amazing, along with all the other food. There's bakeries on about every corner that pump out fresh pastries all day. On my Picasa Web album I took a picture of a huge one that we bought. It will be a miracle if I don't come home a fatty. I'm just hoping Gar doesn't beat me up when I see him next. He needs to lay off the steroids, that's kind of scary he's already 6 feet tall. Glad everything's going well, let me know if you guys want to hear anything else about the investigators or anything about the country. Love you all,
Ældste Swenson

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Denmark is Awesome!

Dear Family,
Well it's been about two weeks since I've been able to email you guys, but we finally made it here. The jet-lag was pretty bad, we basically lost a night of sleep on the way over. We left SLC at 8:30 AM and flew over the atlantic during the night, and I ended up getting maybe an hour of sleep on the way. We got to Copenhagen about 9:30 AM and we were all dead tired. We met the President and his wife with the AP's, then took a car-tour of Copenhagen where we stopped at a chapel with the original Kristus sculpture like the one in the visitor's center in SLC. After that we contacted for an hour in one of the outdoor mall things in Copenhagen, I forgot what they call them here already. That was actually really fun even though I couldn't understand much of what anyone said back to us. Later we went to Frederiksborg Castle just north of the city and the President took us on a tour through the inside. There's a pretty famous chapel in there, and a room call the "prayer" room where the king would say his prayers. The walls were covered in Carl Bloch's paintings, probably 20 or so.

It was pretty well freezing that day, the airport said -3 or something, but it was windy and snowy which made it even colder. It's definitely colder here than in Utah so far, the humidity makes your entire face freeze which is very pleasant, or dejlig as we say here (delightful). My trainer is Elder Stoffey, who I met the second day after we had dinner and breakfast at the mission home. He's a cool guy, from Colorado Springs and has only been here for 8 months which is pretty new for a trainer. We got on the train to Ballerup after our training, which is my first area. It's a little suburb area northwest or Copenhagen. It's been fun so far, we started with 8 investigators and actually picked up a new one my second day here. We were knocking doors in apartments and he was interested and let us in for about 20 minutes. He has lived here his whole life. We pretty well taught him the first lesson and left a Book of Mormon for him to read for next time, hopefully we'll meet with him again this week. It's about what I expected overall, there's tons of things that are new to me here, but really it doesn't feel too much different from home. The members here are awesome, we have had dinner appointments with them every night so far and they all cook amazing stuff. I'll send you a picture of my first wienerbrød, the thing was the size of about 4 plates and covered in chocolate. It was tasty, and I pretty well ate the entire thing right there.

Our apartment is pretty nice, there's actually 4 of us in it, it's me and Elder Stoffey with the Zone leaders for the area, Elders Veach and Bailey. They're pretty cool guys, and there hasn't been a dull moment so far, pretty entertaining. Yesterday, my wonderful companion offered to have me speak in sacrament meeting. I figured I would go ahead and do it, and to just make sure I mentioned that I'm a noob here in Denmark up front. It actually went very well, I just talked on Missionary work for about 5 minutes and a few people told me after that it was easy to understand which was a good sign. Our meeting house (menighed) is in Søborg, which is about a 15 minute drive from the apartment, so it's an adjustment to having a stake center in our back yard at home. Today we played basketball in the Stake Center in Søborg, I pretty well destroyed them and dunked it a few times. Hopefully one of the Elders on Sjælland is good and will come humble me a little. We're going to check out Nyhavn in a few minutes, which is going to be awesome. It's that picture on the front of that Danish book I got from the library a while ago with the red and yellow buildings over the canal. With our train passes, we can pretty well go anywhere in Sjæalland on P-days which is going to be awesome. My companion is awesome and actually wants to do cool things so we'll probably go to some castles and check out the viking ship musuem in Roskilde if we make it there. Well, it's been awesome so far, the work is going good. Let me know if you want to know anymore about whatever here. That's about all I can think of to write about right now, but there's probably a ton I missed. Well, Elder Bailey just told me he's going to send you an email, so hopefully it's good what he says. He's an interesting guy, as is my companion and Elder Veach. Like I said, I haven't been bored yet. You'll probably figure out why when you read his email to you. Well, let me know how you're all doing, I'll send you all some billeder from my first week.
-Ældste Swenson

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Safe and sound in Denmark!

This morning we received the following email along with these photos from the mission office:

Greetings from the Denmark Copenhagen Mission!

We are sending you an email to let you know that your missionary arrived in Denmark, safe and sound.

We are very excited to have him here. He looks excited to work and serve the Lord in Denmark. Thank you so much for preparing your missionary for this time.

Missionaries in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission usually have their preparation days on Monday. They will email on their next Monday. Just know that they are here and safe.

When you send packages: A) send them to the office at the address below. B) Do not send a package worth more than 50 dollars, or they may have to pay an additional tax to receive it. Missionaries love to get mail. All mail comes to the mission office and we forward it to them. The Danish Mail will no longer let us forward packages from here. If you need to get something to your missionary in a hurry, have him give you the address where he is currently serving. A problem with this is that he may have a transfer before he receives the package. Make sure that you visit with your missionary about future transfer dates and when you are sending a package. Otherwise, send it to the mission office and we will get it to them at our monthly Zone Conference, Specialized Training, or when someone is traveling to that part of the mission.

His permanent address is:

Elder Kenneth Swenson
Danish Copenhagen Mission Office
Borups Allé 128, 1 tv
2000 Frederiksberg

Elder Swenson will be serving in Ballerup with Elder Stoffey
His current address is
Slettebjergvej 2, st. th
2750 Ballerup

The trainers are the best of the best! Your missionary will have an amazing trainer that will help start off his mission in the right way! We hope all is well with you. Have a wonderful day!

Denmark Copenhagen Mission

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One Week from Today...Elder Swenson will be in Denmark

[This is Elder Swenson with Elder Maughan from Montana, who was called to Iowa. "Funny kid," says Elder Swenson!]
Hej familie!
Jeg er så spent for Danmark lige nu, jeg kunne godt lide at flue derover idag! It's crazy that I've been here for 8 weeks now, it only feels like I've been here for half of that.....Tell President Morrison that Gordon Pont is my roommate here at the MTC! He is going to Vancouver, Washington.That was awesome to hear about Sterling's call, I'm way excited for him.

Something that's going to be amazing in Denmark is the castles up there. It sounds like Denmark was the headquarters of Scandinavia, and was usually where the king and queen lived. You know that statue of Christ in the visitor's center downtown? I didn't know this, but the original is in a cathedral in Copenhagen which we'll get to see our first day up there. ... I did some more family search stuff, and it's pretty cool, there's a line of ancestors on Dad's side who come from Scandinavian royalty and lived on Bornholm for about 200-300 years. Family search had the address of where they were buried, so I looked it up on Google Earth here. Outside of that, there's another huge line of "Pedersen's" who lived in Jylland and Sjælland. And another was from Odense, so we've had family live all over the country.

...The language is going surprisingly well right now. We took the LSA's again. I think I told you I got a 4.5 on the first one. This last one I jumped up to 5.5 which felt pretty good. Our teachers tell us that the average missionary is around a "4" when they head out so I guess I'm doing alright. Either way, I already know the first week is going to be insane, basically no more English for 2 years. That probably won't settle in until I get up there, but it'll be fun more than anything. Well, that's pretty much it for now. Not too exciting this week, we're just all ready to go. I'll just plan on talking to you all on Monday, hopefully I can get a phone for long enough.
Jeg elsker jer!
-Æelste Swenson

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vi fik vores rejseplaner idog!

Shrimp plans??? Elder Swenson is writing to us in Danish, and I have no idea what he is saying. When I first plugged the above sentence into Google translate, it came back as "We got our shrimp plans!" But it is actually, "We got our travel plans!" For some reason the second time I entered it, it worked.

Some goofy pics of the mishes...I got a letter and pics in the mail today :) :)

From left to right: Elder Petersen (Idaho Falls), Elder Swenson (what a McStud), his companion (or minkammerat) Elder Holyoak (Pocatello, ID), and Elder Christensen (Sandy, UT but went to Brighton HS).

Love that boy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vi Skal til Danmark om 12 dage!

Hej Familie!
Jeg vil rejse til Danmark om 12 dage! Det er skør! Jeg føler ikke at jeg har levet her for otte uger allerede! So it was pretty much another amazing week here. Last night we got to hear from Elder Holland and Elder Nelson for the 50th anniversary of the Provo MTC. They talked alot on the history of missionary work, and how they used to train people. Our Branch President told us that when he served in New Zealand (in the 70s sometime) that he flew to temple square, went to the temple, got set apart then flew back home for a week. After that he flew out to his mission, so they do it a little different now. I still can't believe how fast the time is going here, it's kind of scary honestly. I'll be contacting in Denmark in about 12 days, which is awesome to think about. The language is coming pretty well, just learning more and more vocabulary every day, practicing fluency and trying to pronounce everything right.....

President Brown got up before the apostles talked and announced that Romney led by 15 percent in Florida. We definitely weren't expecting to hear about politics at a devotional, but that's awesome, sounds like he's doing pretty good now....

Everyday when I think about where I'm going, it still doesn't settle in my mind. I don't think I'll realize what I'm doing completely until I get up there and start contacting that first day. It's going to be an absolute shock, but I can't wait. Honestly, I can't think of anything I'd rather do right now. Everytime I hear our teachers talk about Denmark, I just get more excited to get up there. I wish we could have looked into it more before I left, but I would promise that we have ancestors up there still.
I just sent a few pictures home to you guys, they should get there today or tomorrow I'd guess. Until I get into the field, that's the only way of getting them to you. I'll just send all the pictures on my card my first P-day up there. Talk to you all next week! Jeg Elsker jer!
-Ældste Swenson

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Only 19 more days at the MTC!

Six weeks ago today, Elder Swenson arrived at the MTC, eager to learn Danish and serve as a missionary. Today he informed us in his letter he only has 19 days to go. He leaves the MTC on Feb. 13. As for the language, he says, "There are a few native Danish elders here and according to them, our Danish sounds great, but it's just weird for us. This is the first language I've had to learn to speak fluently, so some words don't even sound like anything. Like the word for "lake" is sø, which pretty much sounds like (suh-uh). It's been way fun learning the language, honestly there haven't been any huge obstacles of any kind, I think my music background has blessed me tons. I actually set up similar practice plans to those I used for piano at BYU which is pretty funny, but they work really well. I probably study the language for about 2 hours each day personally, on top of the 2-3 hours we spend in the classroom only learning the language. I think we'll be fine, everyone in the district is doing very well. We took the LSA (Language Study Assessment) this week and I was actually surprised that I did pretty well. Our teachers said that the average missionary leaves the MTC with an overall score of 4, and I got a 4.5 which was pretty encouraging."

We were online at the same time today so we got to "chat" meaning we exchanged emails quickly so it was almost like chatting! This is the second time we've had a chance to do that. These are the two times I've felt the most connected, and I love it! It's a blessing. I also discovered that playing recordings of his piano music when I'm missing him helps a ton. SPEAKING OF THE PIANO, I keep asking him in my letters if he's played the piano at the MTC. During our chat, I asked again. He answered and told me that he had just played "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" by Marshall McDonald with a cellist on Sunday for sacrament meeting. He said they are auditioning tomorrow to play for an MTC devotional! How on earth do you leave that out of your weekly letter? Silly boy.

The cello player is Elder Dibble from Houston, who is leaving for Mexico in a couple of weeks. Elder Swenson said, "He's pretty good, it went awesome on Sunday. We got like 100 compliments after haha." I can't wait to hear if they get chosen for the devotional. He told me that Marshall McDonald and Steven Sharp Nelson play it (they probably arranged it) and wondered if I had heard it. I couldn't find it on youtube. Would've LOVED to have heard it on Sunday :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love the MTC...

Volunteering at the MTC was awesome. This picture was taken in front of the Wilford Woodruff Admin. building. For those that don't know, Elder Swenson is a great, great, great grandson of President Woodruff. I sure wondered where Elder Swenson and his building were, but really it's probably good I didn't run into him. I don't know what I would've done anyway. But it was cool to get a feel for how things work. Char and I were "investigators" for a sister learning English. She is from Puerto Rico. She was solo for some reason, so one of the teachers came in with her (Bro. Caywood). They told us ahead of time she was really shy. I think it was really hard for her to try to discuss the gospel with us. But she did it! And the amazing thing was that when she read us a scripture, I felt the Spirit. Just proof that the Spirit can break through all language barriers or other shortcomings we might have. She goes to Florida at the end of the month. I will pray for her! The gospel is just so amazing.

Another fun thing was that Bro. Caywood went to Jordan High and knew Elder Swenson, at least knew who he was. I don't know his first name, but he is an RM and went to France and now teaches at the MTC. He graduated two years earlier. I was surprised he knew who Rusty was, but apparently his piano skills made him famous at JHS. Anyway, it was fun!

Excerpts from Elder Swenson's last letter:

"Probably the coolest part of the week was Monday, when President Brown came to our classroom for a few minutes with a lady and her daughter from Norway. They were coming to tour the MTC and the President offered to take them through, and since we're the longest Scandinavian group to be here, they came to our class which was awesome. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are all very similar languages, so they were able to understand a lot of what we told them. The Danish is getting much better, my last two lessons I've been able to only have the Danish Book of Mormon and my memory which has felt really good. Only 5 weeks in and pretty much all of us are speaking at will during our lessons. I think the biggest room for improvement for all of us is in pronouncing everything better. We're still all getting used to the switch from the front of the mouth to the back of the throat for speaking. Mom, that was pretty funny about you trying to pronounce the Danish [the word "I" is pronounced "yiy" not "JEG" like it's spelled].

"Dad, I'm way jealous about the hunting trip! That's awesome you guys finally called a coyote in, just the fact that you did that means you guys were doing things right. I had a good feeling about that area, that might be the new place to be. You guys will have to send me some pictures when you get one. Glad Gar had a good time camping, sounds like some of those kids need to man up and take a dunking!

"Well, things have been going pretty well here. I really haven't been down still, I guess I'm just lucky that way, but as long as I'm doing the right things nothing else really bothers or gets me down. It's been fun here, I'm glad we're going to have the 9 weeks, because I'm already seeing the training pay off. At the same time, I'm way excited to get to Denmark the more I hear about the people and the country. It sounds like the perfect mission for me so far, and I know that there's people there that only I'll be able to get through to, so I'm stoked to see that happen. Thanks for all the letters, food and pictures! . . . The food up there is going to be amazing, pretty much everything you eat is made fresh that day. They have HUGE pastries, tons of fish, and tons of other awesome crap I probably haven't heard of. Thanks for everything, I'm grateful to have a family that has supported me every step of the way, seeing kids come to the MTC from difficult circumstances makes me feel for them. I'm grateful to have an amazing family."
Jeg elsker jer!!!
Ældste Swenson