Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Last Summer in Odense

We are well into our last summer here in Denmark.
In a few weeks we will leave our little country cottage here in Odense and..

lock up the basement of the old church building where we have worked for eighteen months.

The seasons have flown by. Every season brings new color to this garden island- the island of Fyn.
When the Savior was here, he used the seasons to prepare us for what was to come.
He gave us this summer parable:
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree--When its branches are yet tender,
and it begins to put forth leaves,
(you) shall know that summer is nigh at hand.."

"So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things,
they shall know that he is near, ----even at the doors." -- Matthew 1: 38-39 (JST)

Through the months we have tried to help strengthen the tender branches of the church here. Our summer has been full of little events that have nourished the great young people with whom we have been privileged to work. Many of our kids have developed strong roots in the Gospel. I hope that with some of these summer posts and collection of memorable events, you will see that we have tried to help the some small way, to plant strong testimonies in the hearts of the dear friends that we have made here.
It is hard to say "goodbye". The summer is here...the trees are not fully grown, but we know that the new senior couple (Elder and Sister Gronnstad) are real farmers from Canada.
We also know that --at our center, even when there are only a few students during the summer, ---(like the parable promised) the Lord is "near,--even at the door." It will be hard to give back our keys...but there are many good things left to do and many colorful seasons to enjoy. Here are some of the memories that we have been collecting during our last summer in Denmark. (remember to see the pictures up on the picture) At the end of June, all the missionaries on this side of Denmark gathered in Aarhus for our last Zone Conference with President Olauson. He completed his three year mission on July 1, 2010.
He has been our President for almost our entire mission. (Our new President Andersen, our former Church Education Director in Denmark, will be our own president for only a few more weeks)
-- Elder Christensen (top), Elder Faylor (relaxing), and Elder Dalton (on the right).
The theme of our Zone Conference was : "Sometimes the greatest change brings about even greater opportunity."
This Zone Conference was all about change...
One by one each of us have been asked to make major changes in our lives. I've often said that I feel like we have been lifted off of one planet and placed here on another. We learn how to eat new foods, live in someone else's house, eat with people we've never met, help people from all over the world, work with Elders and Sisters until we learn to enjoy their great enthusiasm and energy...then they are transferred to another city leaving an empty spot that is very hard to fill. The final change takes place when we are lifted off of this planet in Denmark and placed back on our home soil. Sometimes I can't even remember the names of the stores and main streets that I used to travel on every day when I lived in Sacramento. One thing that we can count on here every "Change."

When I am back in the land of cream of chicken soup, chocolate chips, and saltine crackers, I am going to miss the chocolate ballers, frikedillers, aebelskivers, and fresh licorice that have become my favorites here.
While President and Sister Olauson are facing major changes in their lives when they return to Orem, Utah...I think that they would agree with me when I say that one of the hardest things to do when we prepare to leave our home away from home in Denmark to say "goodbye" to our good friends and fellow missionaries.
--JJ (our friend, neighbor, and soon to be a missionary) from Greenland, Elder Oakey from Idaho, and Elder Arsnes from Norway.

I will miss Sister Olauson's healthy reminders to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Each zone conference I decide to change my drinking habits when I return home but I am not very good about remembering to change.

Before we come to each Zone Conference, we are asked to prepare a 5 minute talk about the monthly theme. The President then calls two or three of us up to give a talk. This is a great way to get all of the missionaries to study the subject that he wants us to focus on for the month. I have had to give at least three of these surprise talks. I was sure that this time I would not be called to speak. Just in case, I stayed up for three hours the night before trying to prepare a five minute talk. (I'm a slow learner). The President said that he wished that he had had a camera to record the look on my face when, once again, he called on me to speak. I will include my little talk in one of these posts before I go home. As a result of this monthly assignment I have lots of five minute talks that I have never given at zone conference, that I use throughout the month in little family nights that we give whenever someone needs a friendship family night- any night of the week.

-- me, Sister Olauson, and Sister Jepson (Senior Missionary)
When Zone Conference was over we enjoyed taking lots of "Good Bye" pictures.
--Sister Williamson, President and Sister Olauson, and Sister Reed (Missionaries from Odense)

President welcomed JJ, who had his papers in to go on his mission in the fall. President Riedel -- our landlord and friend (with Elder Wilberg) was released after six years service as a Councilor to the last two mission presidents.

---Elders from top: Elder Wirig with the President and Elder Faylor, Elder Andersen and Elder Christensen.

Good Bye, President. We miss you already.
--- Elders Faylor, Wirig, President, Okey, Dalton, and Elder Camp

At the end of the day we went to the most delicious bakery in Aarhus, Denmark to pick up all kinds of pastries- chocolate mouse shaped like a cone, little tarts, almond kringle, and lots of other treats. This was the beginning of a traditional midsummer holiday called "St Hans Aften", the longest day of the year.

--- Elder Wilberg with JJ in Laenges Bakery, and JJ with the sisters (Reed and Williamson) eating the wonderful treats.

Then we all went to the shores of Arhus to celebrate the night.
On the evening of June 23- the entire coast of Denmark is lit up with hundreds of bonfires to celebrate this ancient holiday (begun in the days of the Vikings). After Christianity became the official religion of Denmark (in 965) this midsummer solstice was renamed by the church after St. John the Baptist. (St Hans)

--Sister Williamson and Reed

It was a beautiful beach. The sun was shining long into the night.

We all gathered around a large pile of firewood.

The sign read "The Fire will be lit at 10:00."

After a game of frisbee and football, the missionaries got their cameras ready celebration.

At exactly 10:00, everyone stood to sing and celebrate the longest day of the year, like the Vikings did...with a great bonfire.

Long live the brave Vikings (and Elders) in the land of Denmark. Happy St Hans Aften !

Finally, the sun went down.

---Elders Champenois and Christensen

Almost everyone in Denmark gathered round their own campfires to say good night to the longest day of the year.

We will always remember the day the lights went out in Arhus.

..And we will never forget these faces.

The Elders know a lot about "Light" here in Denmark. They are here in in this land to do what the Lord asked them to do.
He said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." --Matthew 5: 16

The end to a perfect day is a full moon on the beach of Aarhus.

Time to go home. I think the Missionaries are supposed to be home by 9:30. It is way past their bed time.

Sister Reed, who served in Aarhus for many months, helped us find a great Danish family to give us a place to stay for the night. Our morning breakfast was a traditional cheese and marmalade, or thin chocolate- on toast. Thank you Flemming and Inge Trap-Nielsen for your wonderful, late night hospitality.

Good bye President and Sister Olauson. In a few weeks you will probably be gathered around another campfire on the 24th of July- celebrating with the pioneers, a good old fashioned picnic. Hope you will remember the land of the Vikings and all of us who so appreciate your many years of service. Thanks for your great influence on this fine country. We will miss you both.


  1. lovely photos, Mom. I'm guessing it won't be super easy leaving Danmark. I love that bon fire tradition. I think you need to bring home some ballers. :) Can't wait to see you!

  2. Loved this post, Mom!! I want to do that tradition too. I love the idea!!

    I want ballers too!!