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June 24, 2013

The hastening

Hundreds of years ago, the Danish King (King Christian the somethingth) was afraid of magic, and so all of the "witches" were burned alive. Now the Danes have a whole holiday based on this gruesome piece of history! Every year on the midsummer solstice, they burn witches (definitely dolls and not real people this time! ha.) to symbolize destroying evil and warding off dark spirits as the days are about to grow darker and the nights are about to grow longer. So yesterday was witch burning day! We sat around 3 big fires outside of a beautiful cottage in the middle of the countryside, while our dinner hosts told us all about ancient Danish traditions, and how the red and white flag floated down from heaven, and all about the culture and old Danish fairytales...
"Legend has it that the elverpiges (human sized magical fairies with holes in their backs...) come out of their hillsides (which are huge viking burial mounds) on June 23rd every year. Their beautiful dancing entrances the young men, and once an elverpige gets a man to dance with her, they don't stop dancing for 100 years............"

And then the two grandpas ranted for twenty minutes straight about why Denmark is the very best country in the world. And I sat there and smiled because with my whole heart I absolutely agree. Denmark is the BEST.

When I first got my mission call and I'd tell people I was going to Denmark, the response was always something like "Oh that will be a hard mission. Just remember that you're planting seeds!" Well, they were right about one thing. It is a hard mission. One of the first things that Google told me was that Danes are very private and don't like to talk to people about their religious beliefs.
BUT, the first thing the Prophet told me was that I could go on my mission at age nineteen. And now there are thousands of sister missionaries and thousands more young men serving too. Because the Lord is hastening His work. Its true. "The field is white already to harvest." Its not time to plant seeds anymore. Its time to harvest.

On Tuesday morning we took the train into Copenhagen for a big zone conference. President Sederholm (COOLEST guy ever) told us that there are "elect in every city." More than we can even teach. "And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect, for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." (D&C 29:7) I was overwhelmed by the Spirit as it testified to me that it was true. There are so many people ready to receive the gospel. We just have to find them. Zone conference lit my missionary heart on fire! When we headed back to the train station I knew there would be somebody there that I needed to teach. And right when I stepped onto the train I found her. The cutest young mom with the cutest little baby. I said "Hvor gammel er din baby?" (How old is your baby) and it was crazy because Søster Peterson said the exact same thing to her at the exact same time. I guess we both had the same prompting! We ended up talking with her the entire train ride, and she was so sweet and eager to learn, and she was so excited when we gave her a Book of Mormon. 

Its definitely not always that easy! Sometimes people laugh at us. Sometimes they shut the door in our faces. Sometimes its stormy and the sky decides to dump buckets of rain on us. But I've learned that good things come out of every situation. If it works out, you gain happiness. And if it doesn't work out, you gain experience. 

One day it poured and poured and pourrrred rain until we were completely soaking wet. We were exhausted and drenched and our feet were soggy and sore and it seemed like all of our plans had failed and everything had gone wrong. We only had half an hour left in our work day, and the idea of going home a little bit early to dry off and warm up and make dinner was a MILLION times more appealing than knocking on another door. But we trudged up the stairs of a nice apartment building and knocked on the first door. And then we spent the next twenty minutes talking about faith and eternal families and the restoration with another young mother who the Lord had so evidently prepared. 
A few door knocks later we found another new investigator. As we stood on the doorstep and talked with yet another mother about the blessings and happiness of the restored gospel while her two kids were waiting for her to make dinner, I could feel the spirit pouring down around us. And I knew that once again we'd found someone who was prepared for us to teach.
My favorite scripture this week is Alma 13:24 where it says that "angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land... preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word." Its absolutely true. The field is white already to harvest. The Lord is hastening His work.

Just like that rainy day here in Slagelse, sometimes our lives just seem sooo hard. Sometimes its stormy and we wonder if the clouds will ever clear. Sometimes the sky dumps buckets of rain and absolutely everything goes wrong. 
But remember that good things come out of every situation. If it works out, you gain happiness. And if it doesn't work out, you gain experience. And remember that the moment you're about to give up is usually the moment right before a miracle happens.

Jeg elsker jer!
xoxo, Søster Rogers


June 17, 2013

Hello from DENMARK!!!!!

This has been the most incredible week everrrr. So I'll tell you all about it.

It all started with a 9 hour flight. When I looked out the window of the airplane and got my first view of Copenhagen from 30 thousand miles up in the air, I was just dyyyyying inside. Remember when you were ten years old and you were on your way to Disneyland for the very first time? and you were so excited to finally go to that magical kingdom that you'd been dreaming about your whole life, that your tiny little heart couldn't even handle it? Yep. Thats exactly what it felt like. x1200. I was sooo excited to finally be in Denmark! To finally be in that magical kingdom that I've been dreaming about since December 28th. And let me tell you, it is so much better than I ever even imagined. 

When we got to the mission home that night, an incredible Danish feast was waiting for us. Oh man. I don't even know what half the food was... but it was all better than anything I've ever had in my life. After we had dinner and got all ready for bed, it was past ten o'clock but it looked like noon outside! Weirdest thing ever. I slept like a rock though. Until 3 am. When the sun came right back up and it looked like noon again. 

The next day was a fairytale. After enjoying a traditional Danish breakfast of fresh bread with jam and cheese (try it, its WAY good) we drove across rolling hills of green fields dotted with millions of tiny wildflowers and down cobblestone streets under a perfect sky that makes you feel like you're inside of a snow globe. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL HERE. I feel like I just walked inside of a story book! Especially when we arrived at Frederiksborg CASTLE. We wandered through the beautiful gardens and up through the gorgeous castle and at one point I kind of just stood back for a second and realized that I was in EUROPE. Inside an ancient CASTLE. Where Kings and Queens once lived. It was the coolest thing of my life. 

We had a picnic lunch down on the castle grounds before heading into downtown Copenhagen. My mouth literally hung open as I sat and stared out the window from the back seat. Everything that I've been hearing about and everything that I've been looking at pictures of for the past six months was suddenly REAL. And Copenhagen is so much better than the pictures! And I've never seen so many bikes in my life! Google wasn't even kidding when it told me that bikes outnumber cars here!!

So next we went to the Danske Kirke where we got to see the original Christus statue and the statues of all the apostles, and then to walk around the temple. After that I got to go out with one of the trainer sisters to street contact. So here I was, walking down a cobblestone street in the middle of Copenhagen. Talking to strangers about Jesus Christ. In Danish. It was scary and super intimidating, but I was surprised at how much I could actually understand! They taught us the right language in the MTC after all :) And we placed two Book of Mormons! 

The next morning was transfer meeting, where I found out I would be serving in Slagelse with Søster Hays (my wonderful new trainer) and Søster PETERSON!!!! (my best friend from the MTC who was in the group of missionaries right before me, but stayed with my group at the MTC for the first 2 weeks because she had mono.) So yeah. I was STOKED. Slagelse is a city on the west side of Sjæland (the same island as Copenhagen) and our area covers the whole left third of the island. The AP's drove me there on Thursday afternoon to meet up with my companions and move into my new apartment. Our tiny little apartment was definitely not meant to house 3 people! We share one little closet and one little dresser and I'm pretty sure I could brush my teeth and take a shower and use the toilet all at the same time in our tiny little bathroom. But I haven't felt more at home since I left St George 9 weeks ago than I do here. Despite the street signs that I can't pronounce and despite all the foreign mysterious food and despite the strange money in my pocket and despite the fact that I'm millions of miles away from my family, I feel so at home. 

That very first night I taught my very first Danish lesson. We're working with a 12 year old Peruvian boy who is going to be baptized this Saturday. He's so cool! And he totally reminds me of my favorite 12 year old boy from back home. (I Love you Kolbster!!) That's the craziest thing, is hearing KIDS speak Danish. Especially little ones! Like 4 year olds. It's the cutest thing ever!

So the rest of the week was spent walking down quaint little streets and knocking on doors and teaching lessons and talking to people and eating the best food of my life and accidentally falling asleep at all the wrong times because my body is so confused about this whole 8 hour time difference. Going to church yesterday was such a crazy experience!! And such a huge testimony builder to me. The church is true no matter what language its in. Even if you can hardly understand anything. Its still true! They had me bare my testimony in sacrament meeting since I was a new missionary in the ward, and WOW that was intimidating!!  Seriously, this whole mission thing is the hardest thing I have ever done. Especially now that I'm in a different country trying to speak a different language. I love talking to people and I love connecting with people and getting to know them and just finding ways to make people smile. And its so frustrating and so depressing when I can't do that! The language barrier is rough. Its so so so hard. But I am so so so happy. I'm so happy to be here in this beautiful country, sharing the beautiful message of the gospel. There is no where else on earth I'd rather be and nothing else in the world I would rather be doing. Don't be afraid to share the gospel! You have a voice. So USE it. Tell people about what makes you so happy. And I promise it will make you even happier too. And you can even do it in English :)

I love you all and pray for you every day! Pray for missionary opportunities of your own. Because being a missionary really is the best thing ever.
Jeg elsker jer! TTYL.

Søster Rogers

June 10, 2013

Peace out America!

Last Tuesday night I was cooking dinner while my comp Sister Allen was quizzing me on my Danish vocab.
"Plan of Salvation." "Frelsesplanen."
"The gift of the Holy Ghost." "Helligandendsgaven."
"To cook." "At lave mad"
"To be ready" "At vaer clar."
And that was the exact moment when the phone rang........ coincidence?
Every time we'd ever get a phone call from the mission office or the zone leaders or the sister training leaders, I'd get all anxious and think "dahhh maybe its for me! maybe I got my visa!" but it never was... So this time when the phone rang I didn't even think twice. I just kept slicing that avocado. But then Sister Allen handed me the phone. And my heart started beating faster than humming bird wings and a swarm of mad butterflies attacked my stomach. And then I heard a voice saying "Heyyyy Sister Rogers, you got your visa! You're leaving on Monday!" And I about diiiiiied and for a second I thought I might be dreaming. I thought I'd be staying here for a few months! Its only been 3 weeks. WHAT AN AWESOME SURPRISE. That was the best day ever.
Now in just a couple hours I will be on my way to DENMARK! Holy cowww I can't even wait.
Its been a wonderful last week here in Missouri, and honestly I'm going to miss it a lot! I'm really thankful for the opportunity I've had to be here in St. Louis and to meet so many wonderful people. Its been incredible.
But now I get to go board a plane and leave America for the next year and a half. Now I get to go to a foreign country and try to teach people the gospel in a language I barely even understand. Now I get to go where I was called to serve by a prophet of God.
Now I get to go to Denmark.
I'm ready. Jeg er clar.

Happy 2 monthiversary to me!!
Peace out America.
Jeg elsker jer!

June 3, 2013

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Yesterday my neighbor's porch caught on fire. So I had to knock on their door and say, "um hi, your porch is on fire."
 So yeah, its definitely been an interesting week! I'll tell you a little about it.

For our service project this week we went to Sister Hanna's house to help her move some furniture. She was the sweetest old lady! After we had moved 2 little filing cabinets, she just showed us around her house and around her yard and showed us her beautiful garden and told us all about her family and about her life. It was a lovely afternoon. And afterwards I realized that sometimes the best service you can give is simply to be someone's friend.

The sister training leaders (equivalent to APs) came this week to go on exchanges with us. Since there were 5 of us that night, we made sure to call our dinner appointment to make sure they'd be ok feeding all of us. They said of course they didn't mind and that they'd be happy to have us all. I wasn't worried about it at all, because every home we'd been to has been big and beautiful in all these super nice neighborhoods. But when we located the address of that night's dinner appointment, we found ourselves knocking on the door of a tiny little trailer home. There weren't even enough chairs for everyone to sit down and eat. But they were the happiest, most loving and giving family that I've met. And the spirit was so strong in their little home. Everything took on a whole new meaning for me that night, and I truly believe that "The most important things in life aren't things."

So let me tell you about our neighbor, I'll change his name to Sam. (His was the porch who caught on fire.) Sam is such a great person! He has 6 kids, but only 2 of them are actually his. He's just so selfless. Like if he notices that our car is still parked outside at dinner time, he'll always stop by to make sure we have something to eat. And whenever he's at the store he'll text us to see if we need anything. One day he overheard me saying that I missed baking and I wished I could bake something. 5 minutes later he sent one of his boys down with a muffin tin and a mixing bowl full of all the ingredients to make muffins. HE IS SO NICE. Oh and did I mention he's a rocket scientist?? Yeah, Sam rocks. So a couple days ago he knocked on our door, and after we chatted for a minute we told him that we want to teach him a lesson. And he said "Ok I need the 4th lesson and I need to learn all the specifics and details of baptism." Man were we excited! He's been taught by all the different elders that have lived here before us, but he's just never been ready to be baptized. And he told us that whenever he takes a step forward and starts feeling good about the gospel, something really bad happens. Like one time he was driving home from church and he was thinking to himself, "Wow, things are really starting to go good!" And right then, BAM. Car crash. He doesn't understand why bad things happen to good people.

Well anyways, we were really excited to meet with him and teach him about baptism, and we felt like he might finally be ready. So on Friday night we set some chairs up out on the deck between our apartments and started our lesson. It was going really well and we were about 10 minutes in, when suddenly the city's TORNADO sirens blared through the night. We picked up all of our stuff and ran across the parking lot to the club house/office building as thick black clouds swallowed the sky above us. We crowded into the safety of the basement with all the other apartment tenants and listened as the news reporter said that 3 different tornadoes had touched down, and that we were right in the pathway of danger. But what I heard the reporter say was "Welcome to Missouri Sister Rogers! Now here's a big tornado to help you feel all settled in!" Yeah. It was pretty scary. But when I looked down and saw the black name tag on my shirt and the Book of Mormon still clutched in my hands, I felt a lot of peace, and even when I looked out the window and saw the water of the swimming pool rippling in 12 different directions as the rain pelted down sideways, I knew we'd be ok. Of course Sam took the tornado interrupting our lesson to be another bad sign. But I was just so thankful that we had been with him when the storm hit! We would have had no idea what to do or where to go if it weren't for him. So that was a huge blessing.
We rescheduled our lesson with him for the next day, but when we woke up that morning we were all super sick. There's been a bug going around our ward, and since we eat dinner at different member's houses every night and shake hands with everybody we ever meet, it wasn't a big surprise that we caught it. So.... we had to cancel our lesson with Sam. Again. Like could anything else go wrong?! That's when I found myself asking the same question that Sam struggles with. Why do bad things happen to good people?

We all find ourselves asking that question sometimes. Why. Bad things happen every single day, and sometimes it just seems like life refuses to go the way we've planned. Like why did that car crash have to happen. Or why did that tornado hit the elementary school in Oklahoma. Why have there been so many shootings. Why do people get sick. Why am I in Missouri when I was supposed to go to Denmark........
No matter how big or how small, bad things happen. My companion Sister Dutson just found out that her older sister has leukemia. In the letter that her sister wrote her, she said "I don't ask why. I ask what I'm supposed to learn." I thought that was incredible and so inspiring! When bad things happen, don't ask God why. Ask God what He wants you to learn from it. Because that's why we have trials- to help us learn and grow and become better. And because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have somewhere to turn. We always have someone who understands and someone who will help bear us up. God has given us the same promise that He gave to Joseph Smith when he was a prisoner at Liberty Jail in Missouri in 1839.
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high... If thou art called to pass tribulations... know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."
I'm so thankful for the gospel, and for the comfort and strength it gives me in times of trial.
My prayers are with all of you back home! I love you all so much!
Sister Rogers