Monday, November 29, 2010

The whole world has its eyes on the Odense Center for Young Adults

On Thanksgiving day, November 25, I opened Facebook and discovered this beautiful, happy picture.. of Julie and Brynjar Hafsteinsson. Snow has returned to Denmark and with it a flood of memories of the good "kids" that we left behind.  How I miss the snow, and those "kids."
Julie's family lived only a few houses down from us near our country cottage in Odense and Brynjar is from Julie's favorite land, (another part of the Danish Mission) Iceland.
Brynjar was a student in Horsens, Denmark (about two hours from Odense)..when he met the Elders.  He was baptized a little over a year ago on November 20, 2009 by two of our favorite enthusiastic missionaries- Elder Christiansen and Elder Ramsey.
This is Horsens where Brynjar began his life as a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
He and Julie became good friends through the year and often attended activities, Family Home Evenings, church and celebrations with us at the Center for Young Single Adults in Odense. 
Before the New Year, Julie and Brynjar were a couple.  In a land where dating almost never happens, and a with a center full of men and only a few girls..this was a small miracle
Julie had met her "Knight in Shining Armor."  Love this picture.  They are on one of Julie's family's black horses- who was also our fine neighbor in our pasture behind our house in Odense.   (remember to click on the pictures if you want to see the pictures enlarged)
Just after we left Denmark for home, Julie and Brynjar were married during the late summer of 2010.  Our Young Single Adult Center was designed to provide a place for young single adults to gather, grow spiritually and socially, make life long friends, and some even fall in love.
Julie is a returned missionary and Brynjar has now been a member for a year.  What a happy couple.
I am so glad that Odense has a safe haven for young single adults- a place to find a refuge from the storm and chaos of single life in Europe.
For a place that serves no alcohol, offers no cigarettes, and seldom hears a word of swearing, (except maybe during a game of Crud at the pool table) it is a very fun and lively place to be.  I can still hear Jonathon, Julie's brother,   with our guitar in the computer room, singing "I can swallow the Ocean for you," while Elder Wilberg was doing the dishes in the kitchen, and I was listening to Japanese poetry from Dan's fancy telephone..In the game room a wild group of young adults were playing a championship game around the pool table, and an active game of foos ball.. while eating rice crispy treats (called "rice crispy cake" by the Danes) and having a fine relaxing time at the end of a great Family Home Evening.  Who could ask for a better place to be? 

This fall I noticed an increase in the number of people from all over the world- looking at our blog.  The little flags on the side of the post kept track of the countries that were looking for all kinds of things, from "the whole armor of God," to "steadfast soldiers are not made out of tin."  I discovered that had written another article about our center in their blog.  What a nice surprise. Here is a copy of that article. (click to enlarge it as well as press on the increase size scale on bottom right corner of the post)
It is a welcome extension of our mission to continue the stories, memories and sweet testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ that we shared while we were privileged to work in the basement of our little center in the middle of Odense, Denmark.

In this article you can discover why the Church, at great expense and care, has established over 60 centers for young adults all over Europe.  Senior Couples, at their own expense, are called to serve as managers and enthusiastic supporters of these programs.  We work with our very capable student leaders who are in charge of the many activities and spiritual events that take place at the center.  Our main purpose, above all the great activities and scripture classes that are taught,..our Main purpose is to "Bring people to Christ." 

And when you get home from a mission like this, you have a connection with these young adults that you will never forget.  There are phone calls, and facebook messages, and fine friendships that continue across the sea.  What a blessing to have been in their lives for eighteen months.  What a privelege it is to watch them to continue to grow.  We are looking forward to hearing about other romances at the center.  I wish for every single young man that was looking every week for his "eternal companion" at the center- that each of these deserving young men will take more than five minutes to discover the art of dating.. I think that since we have left there have been some effort to do just that.  Enough said for wishes.

One theme that I used over and over again as we lived and worked in Odense was a scripture from 1 Nephi 16:29, D&C 64:33.. 
"And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things..Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." 
There were times that the center was alive with students, and other times when there were only one or two.  Sometimes it was discouraging.  The students had to come from far and wide, by train, by bike, sometimes all together in one car.. but I loved the small, intimate gatherings the best (though it wasn't always good for our attendance records)..
This was a fine place for real friendships to grow..a place for food, lots of hungry students,..a place for enjoying one another..a place for young adults to use their Priesthood to bless and even baptize one another.
The spirit of missionary work is always at the center.  In Odense we have had at least two young Elders and two young Sisters to teach young adult investigators, and new members. They are a spiritual arm of our center..working together with the young adults to gather Israel one day at a time.  They are fine examples to for our students. They often had mini-missionaries (young men and women) who stay with them for several weeks..going tracting, teaching and learning what it is really like to become a missionary.  Many of our students are preparing to go when they become 19 or 20.
Thank you for noticing that in Odense, Denmark..we have a great center with the most amazing young single adults.
We have been given a basement of furniture, computers, a library, a well used guitar, a pool table, a foos ball table, a kitchen, a full refrigerator, chalk boards for great lessons, Institute Manuals for
studying the scriptures, comfortable leather chairs, and wireless internet..What a fine place to be.

During this Thanksgiving season, as I look at this little snow covered church in Odense, I am so grateful that we were sent to this lovely place and were given the opportunity to serve these fine students.
In D&C 67: 2 the Lord says.."Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you and the heavens and earth are in mine hands- and the riches of eternity are mine to give."  I know that His eyes are on this little basement center in Odense.  What a wonderful gift we have been given.

So here's to the best Center for Young Adults in all of Europe..thanks again for the opportunity we have had to serve you.  May God bless you all.  We love you, Sist W

Friday, October 15, 2010

Remember "Semper Gumby"...

At the risk of saturating our blog with another chapter about Jens Jacob Simonsen, there is a new post that needs to be recorded. So here's to JJ and to all of you who have been following his remarkable story..especially to his good family in Qaqortoq, Greenland on the southern tip of the largest island in the world. Your son has a new assignment.
This is a glimpse of the world that you are about to enter.. This is the Wasatch Mountain range.
You will love these mountains. They anchor all of Northern Utah. You will never get lost if you look to the mountains. I once asked an Elder from our mission in Denmark what he missed most about leaving his home state of Utah. He said: "more than his family, he missed the mountains. For some reason, Heavenly Father wants you in Northern Utah.

Throughout our mission in Denmark, our President Olausen gave us many short phrases and quotes for us to remember. We often repeated these phrases out loud as we went about our daily missionary work. One phrase used frequently by all of us is a reminder for us to be "Semper Gumby." This was sometimes an annoying reminder because it meant that out of the blue- we had to change our plans to meet the needs of our mission, our district, or newly arriving missionaries.

"Semper Gumby" is a real Latin phrase that is an unofficial motto for the US Navy Seabees... it means "always flexible." Gumby is a little green rubbery man who can be bent and twisted in many ways. He always has a smile on his face and never seems to break. President was a former US Navy Chaplin and he lived in a world in which plan A did not always work. If you are "Semper Gumby" you are flexible enough to change to Plan B at a moment's notice.

JJ, a few days ago you received a "Semper Gumby" letter in the mail from Salt Lake. You thought it was airline tickets to prepare you for your mission in the Utah St George Mission. Instead it was a change of your mission and departure date. Welcome to the world of missionaries who are ready and able "Semper Gumby" experts.
JJ is now called to the Utah Ogden Mission...and will enter the MTC on December 14, 2010.

There are many blessings that follow a "Semper Gumby" experience. Since we talked on the phone a few days ago I started to collect these blessings as I pondered over the change.
Elder Neal Maxwell used to say that "coincidence is Heavenly Father's method of micromanaging the universe."
It is no coincidence that your mission call has been changed. By the time you complete the two years that you will be serving in Northern Utah- you will probably discover many reasons why you have been blessed to serve there.
Here are some of the blessings that I know that you will appreciate as you enter your beautiful new misssion. For a boy who grew up in the crisp, cold land of southern Greenland, surrounded by snow covered mountain ranges-- you will never get tired of those mountains.

I know that you will miss your family and Christmas in Greenland. But in your new mission, you will probably have a white Christmas and a snowy new year. It may surprise you how cold Utah and Idaho can get in the winter. You may have to bring all one hundred of your many coats to keep warm. --pictures: Southern Greenland, JJ's home town of Qaqortoq

Greenland has villages that dot the mountain side and water that reflects its constant beauty. So does Northern Utah. There are streams, waterfalls, icy rivers, and the Great Salt Lake. They reflect the most beautiful sunsets and welcome crazy lightening storms during the summer. You will soon learn what it means to go "up the canyon." You may even see the "point of the Mountain" before you enter the MTC.
This is a map of your mission in the United States. You will live and serve in some of the most frequently visited Mormon areas in all of Utah- Ogden, Logan, Bountiful, Brigham City, and even "Star Valley Wyoming." You will be in the center of the Church often called the "Heart of the Church."
Your mission covers parts of three states- Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.
This is the official map of the Utah Ogden Mission. I was surprised how many important cities are in this mission. The city of Ogden is about 23% Hispanic... and only 50% of its population is LDS. Your mission baptizes between 180-200 converts per month. There are about 150 stakes. (click on the map to enlarge it).

Welcome to some of the amazing cities along the Wasatch Front... this is near Brigham City, Utah.

Ogden, Utah...

Logan, Utah....

Part of your mission is in the Northern tip of Salt Lake City. There will be a time when you can attend general conference in person and see the Prophet of the Church.

This is a view of the many ski resorts along this mountain range. The people of Utah love the out of doors. You will see more SUV's, campers, boats, pickup trucks, and motor homes than you probably have ever seen in your life. There is a pheasant season, fishing season, deer season, bow and arrow season, elk season, and any other season that someone comes up with that will take you "up the canyon" to build a campfire, sing "Come Come Ye Saints" , and make some'mores all in the same night. (click on this map to get the full picture)

Winter storms that affect Utah generally come from the North Pacific Ocean, where cold Artic air encounters the relatively warmer Pacific waters. Does that Artic air come from Greenland by any chance?
A Lesson in Utah Snow: (especially for Elder Simonsen who is knows all about the weather)
It is the structure of the snow crystals that makes Utah snow unique. Utah is the second driest state in the nation (after Nevada). The cold, relatively dry conditions produce light, crystalline snowflakes called "Dendrites"..pictured above. These snowflakes are thick and symmetrical and float slowly through the cold atmosphere to the surface, accumulating as fluffy powder in the mountains. Often, storm fronts that move through northern Utah are followed by brisk northwest upper-level winds, which are aimed directly at the mountain peaks.
Additional moisture is drawn from the warmer waters of the Great Salt Lake, which never freezes and snowfall in the mountains may continue for days, even after the main storm has passed. It is not unusual to see an additional 24-36 inches of snowfall in the day or two following a storm, all because of this norwesterly flow of cold air across the Great Salt Lake and over the Wasatch Mountains.

They must be doing something right in your new mission.
The Utah Ogden Mission has within its boundaries.. three temples with a fourth under construction. Elders and Sisters often attend the temple regularly- on P days. This is the Ogden Temple.

The Bountiful temple....

The Brigham City Temple... (under construction)

And this historical, old Logan Temple... Some time I will have to share with you the many miracles written about the building of this temple.

In June of 2010, the Utah Ogden Mission just got a new Mission president.. President Brent Olson and his wife Sister Dianne Mickelsen Olson. I found a radio interview that they made discussing your mission.
Here are some of the highlights..
1. President and Sister Olson came from Philadelphia at the end of June to oversee the mission which extends north into Idaho, east to Star Valley, Wyoming and south to North Salt Lake
2. Two of their seven children live in Ogden.
3. President Olson grew up in Washington, D.C. area and Sister Olson grew up in Denver. He is
an attorney and former Stake President.
4. There are at present 188 elders and sister missionaries as well as five couples who proselyte and ten other missionaries who serve in the office in the Ogden Tabernacle. There are 18 single sister missionaries.
5. The four Utah missions had more baptisms than any other missions in the United States last year. Ogden had 2,050 --more than any mission in the U.S.
6. The Olsons said they feel the high baptism rate is because of the fellowshipping by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
7. About half of the baptisms in the Ogden Mission
are children or spouses from part-member
8. There is a perception the Bountiful and Ogden have more members of the church than they actually do. President said that Kaysville has the highest percentage of members in the area, while Ogden has 50% members.
9. Missionaries come from around the world to serve in Northern Utah. There are 38 Spanish-speaking missionaries who serve in the 23 Spanish wards and branches. Other missionaries come from many countries including Mongolia, Cambodia, Denmark, Sweden, Samoa, Fiji, and Canada.
10. President Olson counsels each new missionary to read five pages of the Book of Mormon each day and underline in red where it testifies of Christ. He says-"they are able to testify with a lot more strength about the Book of Mormon and the Savior."
11. There are three sets of missionaries on the Utah State University Campus, and one set of
on the Weber State University Campus.
12. About one-third of the missionaries live in members' homes and they all have dinner in
members homes.
13. Cars are furnished for about 2/3 of the missionaries while the others walk or ride bicycles.
14. When the new missionaries arrive and again when they leave, they spend the night in the Olsons home.
15. President interviews each missionary every six weeks.
16, There are three zones that each meet every six weeks, usually around the time missionaries are released to go home, when new missionaries arrive and transfers.
17. Each General Conference, the mission is given a number of tickets so some of the missionaries may attend at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Presiden Olson plans to take some missionaries who have nearly completed their missions to the Conference, as many may not have the opportunity again.

1. There are about 150 stakes.
2. There are hundreds and thousands of good members, they encourage their friends, they have friends in their homes to have them taught the gospel, but there are also thousands and thousands of good people who have moved int Utah or who have lived here before for many years who have not had the gospel.
3. We tried to impress on our missionaries that there was a special reason for them being in Utah, in Ogden, and that there were people there that only they could teach. One night the mission president had a call from a man in Logan and he had gone through 14 sets of missionaries and now agreed to be baptized. What he wanted was the 14 set of missionaries there, and they couldn't but the current missionaries were just the ones who were able to touch his spirit..that's why they were sent there and that happened so often.
4. We had 150 missionaries who would cover the whole mission in English and then we had another 30-35 who covered the mission in Spanish and they would worry about "I've got to speak the language perfectly" and we'd teach them "It's not you. You know, the language doesn't matter. It's your spirit that will teach." And that happened time after time after time.
5. I got to teach particularly with the Spanish Missionaries... I noticed all the time- you'd sit there and just watch these young missionaries, and they would teach with such power and suthority. As soon as they got the feel of the scriptures and the knowledge that Heavenly Father answers prayers, they would just go teach with that authority and power..I used to just sit back and feel and look amazed..they could teach inthat kind of situation infinitely better than I could.
6. When I was interviewed by President Faust for this mission he said: "You will not be judged on the number of baptisms but on how your missionaries turn out in 20 years time." It occurred to us a little bit into the mission that in 20 years time most of our missionaries will be married and preparing their sons to serve missions. We took that very, very seriously. We had essentially two goals for our mission. One was that every one of our missionaries would be worthy, sealed husband or wife, father or mother, and that was the primary goal. And the second goal was to baptize 200 worthy, ready converts every month in our mission and to exceed that from time to time. We worked on that very, very hard. We focused very much with our missionaries on teaching them the spiritual skills- how to pray, how to study the scriptures, how to receive revelation through the scriptures.
7. We are blessed, very very blessed to have three temples (a fourth under construction) in our mission so every missionary pretty much lives within a half an hour or so of the temple and could go every preparation day morning. So with those three things- knowing how to pray, knowing how to study the scriptures, the opportunity to go to the temple almost every week- that was a tremendous spiritual growing factor for our missionaries and you could see the change that would take place.
8. In Utah nearly every convert is a joint product of members and missionaries working together. You don't go very far as a missionary in Utah if you don't work with the members.
9 We had many missionaries who really had no parents and we were their parents. One missionary who came on his mission had parents who were very antagonistic toward the church. They sent him literature about the church- anti literature. They tried everything and eventually he got a letter from them saying that his father had cancer and could he come home. He was devestated but he elected to stay on his mission. Six weeks later, another letter came. Father had died. And he still didn't go home. Bless his heart. But it wasn't until another two months that he had a letter rom another member of the family. No cancer, no death. It was all jsut trying to get him to go home. How do you deal with that? You love him and you talk to him and you love him more. That particular missionary- we attended his temple sealing while we were still on our mission. He got sealed here in Utah and we were able to just go and share that blessing with him. Now he lives in the mission- very happily married.
10. Since we have been released; we have the blessing of living in Draper and a lot of our missionaries come back to Utah to go to school. Some of them are up in Idaho, some of them are down in Provo, and in Ogden at Weber State University, and up in Logan, and so we just get sometimes floods of missionaries coming to see us. We keep up with them, we see them progressing, we see them dating and forming relationships, we see them getting engaged, and we had the opportunity to go to the temple with them and see them sealed. These blessings will just continue and they're so excited -
they facebook us or write to us and tell us when they are having a child or when something exciting is happening in their lives.
I signed up for facebook just two or three months after our mission. I thought, "Alright I can deal with this" the next morning 550 e-mails.
Mission families are eternal families too. And they know we love them.

JJ, I know that you are very busy trying to earn a little money as you prepare for your misssion in a few months.
This "Semper Gumby" opportunity that you have been given this week is truly filled with so many blessings that are in store for you in the coming two years. I have just mentioned a few.
One of the most significant blessings that I see as I think about your new call is that many of the Elders and Sisters that taught you in Denmark now have returned home to this area.
Their spirit will be there with you. Many are going to school in the cities within your mission. Some are only a few miles away from its boundaries. Their prayers will be be with you. They may even help you teach from time to time (if that is allowed).. like you so generously helped them teach in the cold snowy days of Denmark.

I so appreciate these men and women. And all the elders and sisters who have served in our mission while we have been in Odense. They will be your life long friends. I am so grateful for their service and your willingness to serve along side of them. I won't forget Elder Clayton ..

and the strength of his companionship with Elder Barnard.

They will never forget the experiences that they shared with you.

Again, thank you for your willingness to serve.. your new mission in the Utah Ogden Mission, is really your second mission. You have been serving the Lord in our mission- ever since you entered the waters of baptism.

You already know that missionary work is not always easy. I appreciate the long hours of work that these two Arizona boys gave to our mission in Odense- Elder Shreeve a brand new elder, and Elder Brown- now home. Love his good friendship. They are so looking forward to your successful mission. I am sure that you will see them again.

When you enter your new mission you are entering Utah territory.. where some of your best friends, Elders and Sisters.. are going to school, and living. These are eternal friendships- I so appreciate them all: Sister Reed, and Michelle (our sweet mini-missionary),
"Burton and Roberts" as you fondly call them- the sisters who were there when the Lord found you on a quite street in Svendborg. I am so grateful that they came on their missions to find and teach you. I am grateful for the enthusiasm and love that you received from Elder Francis and Crosley. The Lord is watching over us all. I am grateful that you are now ready to go out and find some new brothers and sisters who are waiting for you to teach them. It is quite a circle.

We are all looking for the next chapter to begin in your life. Welcome to the possibilities of your new mission. The Lord is keeping an eye on you.
After a freezing day in the middle of a harsh Utah winter, you may miss the warm summer days of Greenland. Thank you for your strength and your example. You are "semper gumby" ..."always flexible" .. you do not crack under pressure. Looking forward to saying "goodbye" to you just before Christmas at the MTC.
We love you, sist w

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good Bye, Aske- The Blue boy of Odense

Dear Aske,

It is time to say goodbye to another well prepared missionary from Odense, Denmark. In a few days you will begin an experience that will change your life. I really mean this.

You are leaving behind wonderful life long friends.

You are saying "good bye" to your family.

What a fine life you have had. We all know that you are very strong and full of enthusiasm for this mission. We wish you well. This is not an easy thing to do.

Today, you are leaving a comfortable, full life... to serve the Lord. You will be truly blessed ,day by day as you become a full time missionary and say "good bye" to all the good things at home.

You have chosen good friends, worthy to go to the temple with you. They will not forget you.
It has not been a struggle for you to follow the Savior. You have a very soft heart. It has been a pleasure to be with you as you have prepared yourself for this mission.

Maybe you can bring the game of "CRUD" to Germany and Austria... a good gospel message should always end with a friendly game of "CRUD." (better check with your mission president- but this has worked well in Odense)

You have many friends all over Denmark. These boys gathered together in Alborg and asked me to take their picture- they discovered that everyone at the table was named "Mark." They even spelled it out for me. What a bunch of fun-loving kids. You know how to enjoy life. That will be part of your mission.

When you enter your mission you will be twice blessed- once when you enter the MTC in Provo- and fill your days with a spiritual feast of German, Preach My Gospel, The Book of Mormon, and all kinds of bright ideas and inspritation from the Holy Ghost.

Then, after lots of hard work.. (remember, it is called,"missionary work)"- you will fly to one of the most beautiful "Sound of Music" places in the whole world...a new mission- The Alpine German Speaking Mission.

Wish I could go there with you. What a beautiful place.

You will begin to teach the Gospel to total strangers. You will learn to love these people, like you have never loved anyone before- It is a gift from the Savior. I can't tell you how important these people and this country will be to you. I didn't realize until I returned home from Denmark how much all of you mean to me. You won't know this until you are well into your mission.
The Savior promised,
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days, and bring, save it be but one soul unto me- how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father !" D&C 18: 14
The Savior places great value on every soul that you teach.. He said: "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God." D&C 18: 10
He has promised that you will find great joy as you gather his children into the Gospel.
I have traveled with you across the "fifty dollar" bridge to Copenhagen to do baptism for the dead, and have heard you sing with Rene, all the way home- every Primary and camp song that you've ever heard. We should have paid you and Rene an extra fifty dollars to stop. We laughed all the way home.

I have seen you spend four hours to turn blue for "Festelavn".

Then Grethe Hillgaard turned blue.. it was quite a night.

A spooky blue night.

As a blue boy, you had the strength of ten men until you hit the barrel so hard with a bat that it bounced off the barrel and hit your head instead. You entered the hospital for stitches that night- the blue boy from Odense with Emil, our worried chef.
You returned to the party with blue stitches and another bat, to continue the madness of the night.

Getting ready for a mission does strange things to you in Denmark. At the same time you turned blue that night, JJ came to the center as the Phantom of the Opera... lurking in the shadows with his face half black.

In a month or so, you and JJ will be in the MTC together. Both of you are going
to newly formed missions- You to the Alpine German Speaking Mission and JJ to the St George Utah Mission. They have no idea the kind of amazing men the Lord is sending from Odense. I don't know whether the world is ready for both of you.

You have sung your last song in Alborg.

You have danced your last dance at Festinord with James Bond and the gang.

You will have to give up howling at the moon, and growing strange wooden claws at midnight.
But you are ready...more than ready to do the Lord's work. You may already be in Utah by now. You might not want to show your new companion these last few photos. He may be afraid of Danish werewolves.

63 years before the birth of Jesus Christ an army of 2000 young sons joined Helaman on a mission to fight for the right. Helaman loved them like his own family. He said:
THis little force which I brought with me, yea, those Sons of mine, gave ..great hope and much joy" to those whom they served. (Alma 56:17)
Helaman saw their courage and said: "Never had I seen so great courage, nay, not among all the Nephites... They had never fought yet they did not fear death. They thought upon the liberty of their fathers more than they did upon their (own) lives.
They had been taught by their mothers- that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."
(Alma 56: 45-59)
They were "true blue" through and through. Scriptures record-
"They were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted... for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before Him."
(Alma 53: 20-21)
Why are these boys willing to give up two years of their lives to serve the Lord in these last days?
Elder Boyd K. Packer describes the world in which they will teach:
"The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. I know nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstance. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds the wickedness and depravity which surrounds us now. The first line of defense - the home is crumbling. Surely you can see what the adversary is about. We are now exactly where the prophets warned we would be."
(BYU J Reubon Clark Law Society Devotional- Feb. 28, 2004)
Thank Heavens that in this world of Chaos and confusion, the Lord has reserved his best for the last. These "Strippling Warriors" are prepared and willing to go anywhere to serve Him. They are some of his best and most obedient children.

I am grateful for the example that Elder Crosley, Francis, and Clayton set for Paul, from China, and JJ, from Greenland. I am thankful for Sister Burton and Sister Roberts who
took the time to cross the street and introduce JJ to the Gospel a little over a year ago.
We will say good bye to him during Thanksgiving, where we will all meet him in Utah before he goes into the MTC- preparing for his Spanish Speaking Mission in St George Utah. (See the previous blog post for his story).
A few months ago, we said goodbye to our first "strippling son" from our little missionary training class in the basement of the Odense First Ward. Emil is the first of the three- He landed in Greece just weeks ago... bore his testimony on Mars hill in athens, and then suffered from food poisoning that landed him in the hospital for several days. He spent his time there becoming good friends with the staff - I am sure that they have not heard the last of Elder Emil Held.

Emil, with these other Elders are now serving in the Greece Athens Mission.

To Aske, who begins his mission this week, we say thank you for preparing so well to serve the Lord. He will take care of you and we will not forget you...The Blue Boy of Odense.

We will miss this little army of three who spent time with us in the center. We feel very much a part of your mission.

In this old church we lived and learned together. This mission has changed our lives. Your missions will do the same.

Have a fine stay at the MTC, Aske...and then on to Munich- what a great adventure.

The world will remember the true "Blue Boy" from Odense.

A marvelous work is about to come forth - Good Bye to our three strippling warriors of Odense. God Bless You. We Love you all and will not forget this happy ride. Love, Sist W