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April 14, 2014

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

At 6:30 AM the sound of my alarm interrupts my dreams. I force open my tired eyes and roll out of bed and onto my knees.
I am a missionary.
I wear tights and the same three skirts and worn out shoes as I walk around Denmark's quaint streets, preaching and teaching and working as missionaries do. I talk to people young and old, white and black, tall and short, kind and..... not so kind. I talk to people on buses and trains, on street corners and on front porches- searching for the Lord's elect. I study the scriptures for hours and hours and I pray on an hourly basis. I teach lessons about the restored gospel. I visit the sick and comfort the lonely and serve those in need. I attend inspiring missionary meetings and conferences. I invite others to come unto Christ. And I witness Christ's miracles every single day. I can see His hand and feel His presence as I strive to walk in His very footsteps, to bring happiness and salvation to the children of God. I represent Him. For an entire year my black name tag has identified me to the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. 
When its finally 10:30 PM I collapse back into my bed, feeling like I've made a difference in the world.
I love being a missionary.
What a year! Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes of missionary life. This has been the hardest, most stressful, most demanding, most exhausting year of my life!!!! It has also been the most meaningful. Most influential. Most spiritual. Most wonderful. 
I am SO THANKFUL. I wouldn't trade the experiences of this missionary year for the whole world. 

Since my comp Sister Hadley and I are TWINS (we both embarked on our missionary journeys on the exact same day) we decided to make our 1-year-iversary extremely epic! 

We lit fireworks.... (don't try this at home!)

and we baked a marvelous chocolate cake, complete with celebratory Danish flags and candles to honor our 12 months of missionary service.

HURRAH for 6 more months of my Danish missionary life!!
Not only did I have an an epic year mark, but this has been an INCREDIBLE week. Holy cow. Where to begin...

One night Sister Had and I had prayerfully planned to go visit our Asian. We made the lengthy trip all the way across Copenhagen to visit her, and as we were walking from the train station to her apartment building a young (might I add very attractive) man pulled up next to us, hopped off his bicycle and began talking to us. "Hey! You're missionaries! How are you guys doin?" 
He was so nice and so friendly that I was convinced he must be a member of the Church from some friendly-cultured country... But it turned out he was definitely Danish, and definitely not a Mormon! He told us about his friend from Salt Lake City who he visited last summer, and how incredible he thought Temple Square was. He asked us what it was like being a missionary in Denmark, and remarked at how kind and friendly all the Mormons he has met are. UNFORTUNATELY this miraculously kind and friendly young man had no interest in meeting with us. But he did accept our card and said he'd call if he becomes interested. So until then I'll be praying for him. Because things like that don't just happen! Danes don't just hop off their bikes and start chatting with missionaries. And it turned out that our Asian didn't end up even being home that night... I know we were only inspired and prompted to make the trip out there so that we could meet Johan. 

The next night my comp and I went to a concert at a beautiful Danish church. I love experiences like that. I live for it. I love culture and history and religion and people and life and the world. I love my mission because the unique experiences I've been so blessed with have deepened my understanding of the world and how it turns and my own intricate role in the grand scheme of this wonderous planet. 
The concert was an Easter tribute about Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, called "Stabat Mater" written by Giovanni Pergolesi in 1736. It was sung in Italian or Latin or some language that the gift of tongues doesn't bless me to understand! But it was beautiful, and I felt like my Art History class at Southern Virginia University had jumped out of my text book into real life. I loved every minute.
Sister Hadley and I met a few really great ladies after the concert. Its always so refreshing and so inspiring to meet and talk with young adults who have a faith in God and Jesus Christ! There is an enormous difference in people's countenance/attitude/way-of-being  when they know they have a Savior. They were curious about our church and our beliefs and very interested to learn more! One of them is actually a reporter for a Christian newspaper, and she thought our church and our missionary-ness sounded so intriguing that she is writing an article about us for the paper! So my comp and I are giving her a church tour and being interviewed tomorrow

Then one day we answered our pre-historic nokia phone to hear the voice of a guy who said "Hi I met you two girls on the street a few weeks ago. Can we set up a time for you to come by and talk about the scriptures??"
It was real exciting. That hardly ever happens.
Except for we give out SO many cards and talk to SO many people that we had nooo idea who this random guy was. So we brought the Elders along to our teaching appointment for safe measures. He turned out to be an awesome African man that we had chatted with on the street one time on the way to an appointment with our Asian. Who knew that that simple conversation about his adorable curly-haired daughter would amount to something more! We had a great lesson with him and taught him all about the Restoration and the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He's a sincere seeker of truth and I know that when he prays about the Book of Mormon he will find out that its true.

Are you sick of my miracle stories yet?? #sorrynotsorry I've still got some more! 
On Saturday morning my comp and I went to do some service by helping our friend clean her apartment. It was wonderful because 1) I love wearing service clothes. Any excuse for sweatpants is the highlight of my life. 2) I truly enjoy cleaning. Especially the window washing floor scrubbing deep cleaning kind. And 3) its the best feeling ever to lighten someone's burden. 
After cleaning the morning away we headed straight to the train station.
Picture me in Dixie Swim Team sweatpants (sorry Josh.... I accidentally stole them! :) a rain jacket, cheetah print flats, a backpack of clothes to change into, and with a bag full of cleaning supplies in one hand and a gourmet carrot cake in the other. Yes... I looked like a fool. 
That's when a friendly guy (what is with all these friendly people lately?!) came up to me and said "What kind of cake is that? It looks delicious!" The conversation just took off from there as I told him about the carrot cake that I had baked to bring to a Baptism. We had a 30 minute conversation about delicious cake and about the gospel of Jesus Christ as we both traveled to Copenhagen Central Station, and before saying goodbye to our new Philippinean friend he gave us his number and invited himself to church! 
It was destiny. It was fate. It was skæbne. It was the Lord.

Maybe I should start carrying around delicious carrot cakes more often.....

Remember how I was on my way to a baptism?
My Italian Fran man is officially a member of Jesu Kristi Kirke af Sidste Dages Hellige. 
I am so happy.
I remember that first week in Slagelse last June when Sister Hays, Sister Peterson and I knocked on Tina's door and met Francesco for the first time. Sister Pete and I worked with Tina and loved Tina, and she became totally active in the church again. One day we invited her boyfriend Francesco to join in our spiritual thought, and after that he decided he wanted to investigate the church. It was INCREDIBLE to see the change in Francesco over the months as we taught him about the Savior and His restored gospel. I'll never forget that day when he asked us when he could be baptized. Sister Grant and I danced around and hugged each other seven times when we got home that night! We may not speak his language, but the Spirit does. It was the Spirit that taught Francesco the gospel. And I can't even begin to describe the special spirit when you see the one you've grown to love dress all in white. 

It was such a special day.

Sister Hadley and I are suuuper blessed and get to have a "mini missionær"!! (a 19 year old Dane who is coming to be a missionary with us for the next week!) And guess what. She doesn't speak English. We're picking her up tonight and its going to be so great.

Well. Its been an incredible week.
Its been an INCREDIBLE year. 
Thank you everybody for your love and your support and your prayers. You mean the world to me.
Its a beautiful day... The sun is shining and God is smiling.

Søster Rogers