Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week of July 15th

This last week has been a busy one for Shawn. He has had the opportunity to travel back around Denmark to interview missionaries and get to know them better; their cleaning habits and all.
Christmas came early for us this year because Santa, although not in a sleigh, but in a moving truck, brought us our shipment we sent out months ago. This contained books, pictures, games, movies, clothes, etc. It's a good thing too because although Jarom didn't mind wearing the same clothes multiple days in a row, I think we were beginning to scare the neighbors.
Last Saturday, for Shawn's pday we went to down town Copenhagen. While we were down there we found a street known as the walking street. We know for a fact that cars are not allowed on this street because Hilary decided to try and drive on it and boy did she get some strange looks from many people. I think this is the first time I have ever seen Jarom hide his face in embarrassment. We decided it would be smarter to park like a normal citizen and walk along the street. This street turned out to be longer than a mile of endless shops on either side of you. And just like in the movies there are singers, guitarists, dancers, magicians, and performers of every kind on each block trying to make their living from the tips of shoppers. Now we are surrounded in this Danish culture and when Shawn and I ask the kids where they want to eat they looked around and all quickly agree on Burger King; yes those are my wonderful uncultured children. I will admit though, it was nice to have an old fashion fat filled burger. You don't see many burger places in this organic environment; something about fast food being unhealthy, I don't know.
A couple days later we had the opportunity to have Elder Bailey and Elder Pierson in our home to teach an investigator. The investigator has a brother that is a member in Holland, which is how he had heard about the church. He had lots of questions about things that we don't really think about; basic questions like, What is prayer? Who are the Jews? Why did they crucify Jesus? Shawn was gone, but Jarom was able to participate in the discussion. It was a good experience for everyone involved.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Iceland Trip

On Friday we traveled to Iceland to meet the missionaries and to have our third zone conference as a family. We arrived on Friday evening and had dinner with 1 of the senior couples, the Paulsens; what a super couple they are. After dinner we had the opportunity to meet 4 of the Elders and Shawn had missionary interviews with them. On Saturday we attended zone conference where we met 2 more Elders and another senior couple. What a special group of missionaries they are in Iceland.
On Sunday we attended church, at which our family was asked to be the sacrament meeting speakers. We eagerly, some of us more eager than others, accepted and all prepared talks that made Shawn and I proud. Due to the surprising fact that none of us speak Icelandic we had to have interpreters for each talk. After church the branch had a meet and mingle where we had the opportunity to meet and visit with the members. It is amazing how strong in the gospel such a small group of people can be.
On Monday we had our 1st preparation day. We went on a tour of Iceland called the golden circle. Our first stop was where the US and Iceland techtonic plates meet; we could see the prime minister of Iceland's house from there. An hour later our tour bus pulled up to the Golden Waterfall Gullfoss; it was beautiful. There were 2 waterfalls one right after the other. I guess you could say it is comparable to Niagara Falls. After seeing the waterfall we went to Geysir Hotspring where we watched geysers shoot up. Then it was back to the bus for us. On our bumpy ride, especially for Hilary and I because we sat in the very back, we saw many horses and sheep. The horses were short and stocky and the sheep look like a cross between a goat and a lamb. On our way back to Reykjavik we passed by Skálholt, the first Christian church in Iceland, and stopped to see the crater Kerid. After a long, yet eventful tour we made it back to our hotel. Tuesday morning we left for the airport at 5:30 to travel back to Denmark.
Where the 2 plates of US and Iceland meet
Gullfoss Falls
Geysir Hot Springs

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First Zone conferences

On Tuesday we traveled to Århus, located on the pennisula of Jylland, for a zone conference. We had the opportunity to meet 22 Elders, 4 Sisters and 3 couples. It was fun to meet with them and see their enthusiasm about missionary work. On Wednesday Shawn held a zone leader conference at our home, at which 6 Elders, 2 Sisters and a couple attended. It was nice having them in our home and even nicer to have a full table again; even if it was only for one lunch.
Hilary, Heather and I were able to experience yet another grocery shopping adventure all too soon (this no Walmart predicament is killing me). We started out on top because successfully followed the GPS to a grocery store. Unfortunately this success was short lived. When we got to the store we had to park in underground parking, and as we entered we had to take a ticket which then raised a bar for us to enter. We felt pretty ingenious figuring that much out, but the only problem was now that we had this ticket we weren't sure what to do with it and we had a rather large parking garage, which later we found out was also for a mall, that we didn't know where to park in. There were potentially helpful signs hanging up, they just all happened to be in Danish. We finally just parked the car and went upstairs to the store. While in the store Hilary asked one of the workers about the ticket and with his limited English vocabulary and Hilary's newly developed skill of foreshadowing, we learned we needed to pay for the parking as we leave and we could use a credit card machine. This was very fortunate news for me because I have not exchanged my US dollars for Danish Kronners. It would probably be a good idea for me to do that soon, I might be in trouble next time.
On Thursday we attended another Zone conference; this one in Copenhagen, located on the island of Sjælland. We met with 18 Elders, 4 Sisters and 4 couples. Hilary, Jarom and Heather attended both zone conferences with us and have really enjoyed meeting all the missionaries. I think they might even have some favorites. After the first half of the conference today, Jarom, Hilary and Heather had the opportunity to go see the Copenhagen temple and to go inside Vor Frue Kirke, which is the church that has the original Cristus and 12 apostles statues.
Zone Conference on Jylland

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

1st few days in Denmark

We arrived in Denmark safely after a really long airplane ride. We walked off the plane with swollen feet and ready to sleep on anything horizontal and not moving. President Anderson and his wife picked us up, along with the mission presidents assistants, Elder Bailey and Elder Pierson. We stopped by the mission office on our way to the mission home and met Elder and Sister Nielson. This senior couple is serving in Denmark for the second time. They spoke English with us and with us already feeling overwhelmed from all the Danish, it was a breathe of fresh air. The mission office is where we were able to experience our first Danish pastries. They were, as Jarom would say, a flaky sensation that urges you to continue eating with every bite, and sometimes surprising you with a creamy taste of Heaven in the center. After visiting the office we were off to the mission home. We arrived at the mission home and met the Anderson's family. We took a tour of the home we will live in for the next 3 years. Sister Anderson had fixed a little snack for us and that is where we experienced having chocolate on our sandwich for the first time. I think we will all learn to love this. Then Sister Anderson offered to take me to the grocery store. I walked in with her and immediately remembered this was not Arkansas anymore and clicking my heals wasn't a realistic option. Culture shock overwhelmed every one of my senses; I saw and heard many foreign words, smelled foods I didn't know existed, foresaw myself tasting exotic foods, and touched . . . Ok, well I guess not every one of my senses were shocked. I couldn't find anything I was use to buying in the states which has made cooking a whole new adventure within itself. The other day I bought gravy thickening thinking it was gravy, because that's what the picture made me believe it was. My kids weren't adventurous enough to try just thickening on their mashed potatoes and I don't blame them. The grocery store we went to was comparable to Aldi's, but I have since learned that there are others stores with a wider selection. I look forward to shopping these soon. After returning from the store, the Anderson's left us and we were on our own.
On Sunday we attended our new ward. Everyone was really friendly to us, and made us feel very welcome. Most everyone greeted us in English which was nice and those who didn't quickly switched to English when they saw the loving yet very confused look on our face. Once the meeting started everything was in Danish. Except for Shawn, we all wore headsets throughout all of sacrament with Elder Bailey as our translator. For Sunday school and Relief Society, Hilary and I had translators. Jarom and Heather's Sunday school, YM and YW were in English so that was nice. I think they did that for them, it will not be like that all the time. But if Jarom's wish comes true he will have become fluent yesterday so it won't matter.
On Monday we took Shawn to the mission office where we dropped him off and then went shopping to find a few things that we needed for the house, plus more groceries. And what an adventure that was. Who knew that following a GPS could be so hard?! We got lost multiple times even using that. We went into IKEA thinking it would be nice to be in a store that we have back home, but it was the same as any other store we went into; everyone speaking Danish and all the signs in Danish. We all quickly decided we better take a crash course in learning Danish.
Elder Bailey and Elder Pierson gave Shawn a ride home from the mission office feeling very overwhelmed after his first day there.