Monday, February 10, 2014

A little about Aalborg

I learned something today:  Aalborg is way way up north in Denmark.

Hannah has been in Aalborg since October.  I read about Aalborg when she first got there, and just some how believed that she was in the far south of Denmark, near Germany.

I was wrong!

We have a world map in our dining room, and I keep saying that I need to print a map of Denmark, but I just haven't done it.

Can you see it up there?  It's about as far north as you can go...

You can also see that Denmark is at the southern edge of Scandinavia.

Aalborg is in North Jutland.  There's a lot of Viking history there, and some LDS history, too.  

Here's a little bit of LDS church history in Denmark:
At the October 1849 general conference, Apostle Erastus Snow was assigned to establish the Church in Scandinavia, and Peter O. Hansen was called to serve as a missionary to Denmark. Hansen, a native of Copenhagen, was one of the first Danes to accept the gospel, having received baptism while temporarily living in Boston in 1844. Once converted, Hansen moved to Nauvoo, then migrated with the Saints to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847. There, he completed the Danish translation of the Book of Mormon he had begun at Nauvoo in 1845. 
When it was announced that Elder Snow and Hansen would work in Scandinavia, John E. Forsgren, a Swedish convert, petitioned and was granted an opportunity to also be called to the work. The three men left Utah in October 1849, arriving in Copenhagen the following spring.
Within two months, the elders had established the headquarters of a mission in Copenhagen. The first baptisms took place on 12 August 1850 in the Oeresund near Copenhagen. The group of converts included eight men and seven women, with Ole C. U. Moenster being the first. The first branch was organized in Copenhagen on 15 September 1850. George P. Dykes established a second branch in Aalborg on 25 November 1850. By April 1851, the Aalborg branch contained 91 members. 

I also found an article in the Deseret News that said that the little hall that the church used for meetings had been all torn down by a mob in June of 1851...

I'm glad things are safer for missionaries in Aalborg today!  Right now in Aalborg there are 8 full time missionaries serving in Aalborg - one set of Sisters, two sets of Elders, and one married couple.  That seems like a lot of missionaries, but it also seems like Hannah and her companion are pretty busy working and teaching.  It is an exciting time!

Søster Barrett and Søster Packard

Every Monday I get Hannah's email, and spend the morning copying it into a file, printing it to read to the family at FHE, posting it to her blog, and sharing it on Facebook.  It is all missionary all the time on Mondays.  Sometimes I even wake up at about 4am so I can see her email come in to my account, and write back quick if I have a question or need something.  I'm pretty sure that email chatting is not really mission approved, but once in a while I need to check an address or something...  so fun!

Sister Packard is a cousin of some of our friends.  Small world!  My friend recently forwarded a couple of letters from her cousin, Søster P- it has been really fun to read about Hannah's mission from another angle!  Such cute girls!

Anyway, as I am posting to her blog, I often want to add little things that I've read, but I don't want to take away from what she has to say... So today I decided to write here on my blog-o!

Yay for missionaries!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Missionary Skype

Søster Barrett called home at about 7:30am on Christmas.

Isn't she cute?

Her Mission President didn't set a limit to how long they could talk, so we had plenty of time together!

Things I loved about the call:
She seems so happy.  She had lots of fun stories to tell.  She still seems like herself.  She is adorable.  She is great at speaking Danish!

She sent a package to us and we opened it with her.  She sent lots of Danish candies and sweet little gifts for each of us.  She also sent a roll of Mustache Tape:

We stuck a piece of tape on the computer screen - doesn't she look terrific!

Hannah and Emily

Sydney giving Hannah a kiss

Hannah giving John a kiss

Love that girl!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Christmas is Coming

We hunted for a tree this weekend, and I'm sure glad we did it while the weather was nice.  It is 11 degrees F today with a windchill of -15.  Snow on the ground.  Brrr!

But this weekend was lovely!

We went to lunch at the Sugar Shack to get ready for the big tree hunt.  The Sugar Shack is a little tiny greasy diner out in the middle of no where...  You can sit at the bar, or you can sit at one of 3 tables.  It's great!  Great burgers.  Great cocoa!  Too many fries!  Mmmm!  On our way in we stopped and talked to an old cowboy.  He told us that we better get our tree today, because cold weather was on it's way... he was right!

After lunch, we headed into the hills to find the perfect tree.

Em and John on a log

We had a bad storm at the beginning of October, and though the snow was mostly gone, the damage to the forest was unmistakeable.  There were huge slash piles, and trees down all over the place.  Also, the brush seemed more tangled a tougher to walk through than usual.

Sydney crosses a creek

We hunted high and low.  And finally found the right tree!

John cut it down all by himself!

John - cutting down the tree - 10 years old!

John and Sydney, hunting for our first tree in the Hills - John is 1 year old!
Our tree is a little wonky and sparse, but I think it will be lovely.  I just wish someone else would come put the lights on!  Okay.  I can do it!   Today!

Emily and John carrying out the tree.
Sydney told me it was our best year of tree hunting ever! Yay!  I blogged about tree hunting in the past here, and here.  We have made a lot of fun memories finding Charlie Brown Christmas trees in the Black Hills. 

As we were looking for our tree, we laughed about the time we went tree hunting with some friends, a couple of years ago.  Nathan was deployed over Christmas, and some friends generously offered to let the kids and I tag along with them and find our trees together.  It was cold and snowy, and we only had 2 pairs of really good snow boots.  I guess that's not true - Emily and John both had their own boots, but Hannah, Sydney, and I had only two pairs of boots between the three of us - we all wear about the same size shoe.  

So, one of us had to wear just regular boots - don't get me wrong - they were nice boots, just not good warm snow boots...  We had to hike a ways to find our tree, through lots of snow.  Did I mention it was cold?  And the person with the regular boots started to get a little bit grouchy.  

When it took a while to find juuuust the right tree, she got a lot grouchy.  So as soon as we chose one, she cut down that tree fast, and pretty much ran back to the car with it, mostly carrying it on her own (which didn't help her mood) to the car, through the deep snow.  (these trees are really very light, just sort of awkward to carry on your own.)

By the time the rest of us (our family and our friends' family) got back to the cars, she was in the suburban crying!  Waaaa!  So embarrassing for her, and for me, too!  Our friends kept asking if she was okay, and I had to keep saying: "She's fine."  "She'll be better in a few minutes..."  Being (and having) a teenager is sometimes not easy!  It's making me get a little choked up just thinking about it!

By the time we had all eaten some cookies and had some cocoa, she was just fine.  And her feet were okay.  So we went to the Sugar Shack for lunch and finished the day in better spirits.

We have 4 good pairs of snow boots, now, in size 6 1/2 - 7.  And we've both grown up a little!  I wonder if she and her companion have a little tree in their apartment?

Monday, December 02, 2013

It's Monday

After I dropped the kids off at school, I moved a load of towels from the washer to the dryer, then i sat down at the computer for "just a minute".

I just noticed that the dryer has finished drying that load of towels, and I'm still sitting here at the computer.  I think that means it's time to get going.

In my defense I did spend some time updating my budget numbers on YNAB and paying bills.  So that's good, but I have a lot to do - why am I still online???  This week is PTA week* for me, and that means I don't have time to waste.  

(PS, while I was finding the link to You Need A Budget, I noticed that their budget software is on sale today half off.  I know it's silly to pay for a budget program when you are trying to save money, but I really love this program.  I have used it all this year and it has been life changing!  And I don't really think I did a bad job budgetting before...)

And I'm still online.  

So here's my To Do list.  I'll check back at lunch:

add in numbers to my budget
exercise (before I do anything else) (I almost died.  seriously.  should have kept up with exercising over the holiday...)

post up Søster Barrett's blog for the week (I love that missionary!)
call phone company and figure out why our internet is wacky
clean up turkey stuff
pull out Christmas Things
move around some furniture to make room for the TREE (Thanks John!)
which means I have to: 
and sweep

wash two loads of laundry
sew something
go to meeting at noon - take the computer - make sure you print minutes from last month
track my food
go on a walk this afternoon
don't forget that the Sister Missionaries are coming over at 4pm (unfortunately, they had a plumbing emergency and didn't make it.)
Turkey Noodle Soup for dinner

AND if you have a minute:
wrap up a gift or two
clean your room!

It's dinner time.  We are ready to set up the tree, but I need to do some clean up around the book shelves and little tables to make room for decorations.  I feel like I got a lot done today, especially this afternoon with John's help!  I think it helped that I did my best to stay off of the internets...

*PTA Week = meetings on Monday and Tuesday at the Middle School and Elementary School respectively.  Then I have to get my notes from the Monday meeting edited and posted to the website. AND I have to gather everything from Tuesday's meeting for a newsletter that should be submitted by Friday.  That takes most of Thursday morning.  I know it's all silly stuff, but it takes time.  TIme I would be wasting online apparently...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Missionary Monday

I really love Mondays.  It's my favorite morning of the week.

I have discovered that if I wake up at 4am, I can sometimes catch Hannah online in Denmark.  I'm pretty sure that she's not really supposed to "chat" online (with hot babes), but once in a while I have a question to ask her, and it is so great to be able to "hear" her voice online.

Today I needed to ask her a question about Christmas, and we were able to "talk" a little about what she needs and what I should or should not send.  It was such a fun way to start my day.

She mentioned that Danes all hold hands around their Christmas Tree on Christmas morning and sing a song.  That made me get all choked up for some reason!

As I was reading her main letter, I started laughing (silently) in bed.  I was trying not to wake up Nathan!  But he rolled over and asked "Are you okay, what's wrong?!?"  He thought I was crying!  Nope - just cracking up over Hannah's adventures in Denmark!

I love those Monday letters!  And I just want to talk about her all day...

Sooooo, later this morning, I was jogging with my friend, and she asked what I was sending to my missionary.  Her son will be missionary aged this summer, and she was looking for ideas... (a willing victim!  I got to talk about Søster Barrett nonstop during our whole morning run!)

Anyway, I know I am always looking for missionary package ideas, so I thought I'd post up some if my ideas here!

I am sending 3 packages this month.  I was trying to make sure that she gets one package in early December, one mid month, and one just before Christmas.  Timing is tricky, though.  Packages take about a week to get to Denmark, but they are delivered to the mission home, and then dispersed throughout the mission at zone conferences... So I don't know when she'll get these, but I hope they arrive before Julemand (Santa)!

The first package I sent had a simple advent banner, and a pair of shoes.  The kids helped me make a cute simple Christmas Countdown banner.  But I didn't take a picture...(sorry!)  it looks something like this... but the envelopes were made from all different Christmas paper... and we attached them with the cutest little clothes pins... and we just made one long banner... okay, it looks nothing like this,....

We made our own little paper envelopes, and put a number on each one.  We used a label maker, because we are cool.  Inside of each envelope, we put a candy cane and a small piece of paper.  One one side of the paper we put a scripture reference (using the label maker again - Emily loves that thing!)  and on the other side of the paper, one of us wrote a note.  We each wrote about 5 little notes - maybe a favorite Christmas memory, or maybe a list of what we want for Christmas (John), or a little something about the scripture reference on the other side of the paper, or just a hello!  So each day she should be able to look up a Christmas scripture and read a little note from home.

The shoes are just a pair of black flats.  I'm not sure if they celebrate St. Nicholas Day in Denmark, but I thought it might be fun to send shoes, because she's a girl and shoes are good!  We filled the shoes with candy.  I put candy coins, and a chocolate orange in the shoe box.

I hope she get's that package sometime this week... or if not, at least some time in early December!

The second package that we sent was a Grinch Package! 

 We printed up some grinch pictures and filled a box with green things, just for fun - some stuff she asked for (lotion and deodorant), other stuff she might need (razors) and basically anything I could find in green.

 A green scarf,
green gloves,
green razors, etc.

And today I am getting the last box ready to go:  We are sending a stocking for her and her companion.  And Christmas PJ's.  I filled the stockings with the usual things we do here - toothpaste and a toothbrush, small lotion, hair pins, candy, small journal, etc.  I am not sending a big gift, though I do plan to put a little money in her bank account so she can buy a new skirt, or something that she needs.

Any other ideas?  Did I forget something?

I haven't even baked my Thanksgiving pies, yet, but it feels great to be mostly "done" with Christmas for our missionary! 

Monday, September 02, 2013

First Day of School

School started one week ago.  We had such a fun summer, and it was hard to get ourselves back into the swing of things.  The weather didn't cooperate, either.  We had the hottest weather of the year last week, and school was let out early every day but Monday.  With early outs, sports practices were held early in the morning with tennis at 6am and volleyball at 6:30am.  It was an exciting, strange week for all of us.

Sydney is starting 10th grade!  This is, unfortunately, not the first day of school.  I helped with a "Welcome to Middle School" breakfast on the first day of school and had to leave the house at 6am, so I didn't get to take any first day photos of Sydney.  This is the 4th day of school!  The tennis team had a tournament this weekend, so all of the girls got dressed up for school.  She and I made that skirt the night before - it turned out really cute!

Emily and John on the actual first day of school.  They are awesome!  
This photo was taken before 6:30am...

Emily is in 7th Grade!  She is playing the violin and volleyball this year and is so cute!  She is allowed to wear a little makeup to school this year and is rockin' the mascara!  

John is starting 5th grade... his last year at elementary school!  He is in runners club at school and is also playing football.  He is a super fast runner! 

  He also has the same teacher that Emily had for 5th grade.  Yay!  We move around so much that it is rare that any of our kids have had a teacher that an older sibling had.  

I was able to look online and see his teacher the day before the list was posted at the school.  Both 5th grade teachers at our school are awesome, so I wasn't worried, but it was fun to know!   I didn't tell anyone.  I kept it a secret that night and all the next day so that John could feel that excitement of seeing his name on the list....  It was killing me!

Back to school time is so fun.  All of the new folders and pencils!  (makes me want to watch You've Got Mail!)  I remember riding my bike to Sonoma School with my sisters to see the list of teachers posted through the glass windows.... So exciting!  

Here's to a great year!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hello MTC!

One week ago, today, we dropped Sister Barrett off at the Missionary Training Center.

It was awesome!

Background:  we had a fun summer getting Hannah all ready for the MTC.  It didn't feel like we procrastinated:  We ordered skirts early in the summer (We liked eShakti where we could customize skirt length and sleeves.)  We bought shoes in June.  But then our summer got busy - girls camp, youth conference, missionary friend farewells, family vacation to Yellowstone, family reunion in Oregon, scout camp, appendicitis. And suddenly we had about 2 weeks to MTC.

Let me just say that Rapid City is not the center of fashion.  Our mall is very small.  Tiny!  We did have good luck at Eddie Bauer and JC Penny's.  I think we shopped every single day those two weeks.  We ordered long johns and boots (Nordstroms had the best boot selection in the July.)  We shopped for warm weather things in the middle of summer, just before the back to school collection came out.  Not that easy!  Finding the perfect makeup case and watch and skirts just the right length with a certain cute style is hard work, but it was a really special time with Hannah!

Hannah was set apart as a missionary on Sunday, August 11th by President Schmitdlein.  That night there was a fireside at the church by Vai Sikahema, who served a mission in Rapid City about 30 years ago.  It was a sweet talk and really inspiring to the missionaries in South Dakota.  He told us that REAL MEN are called to the SDRCM (South Dakota Rapid City Mission)  Hannah says the first devotional she attended at the MTC this week was by-----  Vai Sikahema!

first photo of the official Sister Barrett, along with the rest of the Barrett Family and Vai Sikahema.

Then, early Monday morning, Sister Barrett, John, Emily, and I headed to Utah to deliver her to the MTC.  Nathan just couldn't miss more work this summer, and Sydney was in the middle of tennis try outs.  I wish we could have all gone, but it was still a really special trip.

Because Hannah was a set apart missionary, she was supposed to be following missionary rules and was not allowed to be alone!  That was a little tricky if one of us had to use the bathroom while the other was getting gas... We also couldn't listen to the radio.  12 hours in the Suburban listening to classical music and church music and talks was really inspiring!

notice the cute missionary sachel!

We had a nice visit in Utah with Grammy and Grampie.  We were able to go to the temple on Tuesday morning.  Lovely!

We did all of our favorite Utah things - lunch at Cafe Rio, berry picking, carmel making, and cousins!

I was feeling a lot more in control of my emotions than I thought I would.  Last year when we were getting ready to send Hannah to college, I was boo-hoo-ing all over the place, but this summer I was fine... right up to Wednesday morning.  Then Sydney sent Hannah a sweet text and I just got so sad!  Not sad for Hannah, just a little sad for me!  I'm going to miss that cutie!  Like John told me later, "I felt sad, but happy for her."

And suddenly it was time to go!  Everything fit in just two bags - it was a miracle!

We hugged everyone one more time,

and got Hannah all loaded up into the car.

The construction around BYU, heading to the MTC was terrible, and we thought we might be late for Hannah's 12:30 drop off appointment, but we made it about 3 minutes early.  A big thank you to my sister Laurie who drove for us.  I wanted to make sure I had time to jump out and help Hannah with her bags and give her one last hug before we were waved away from the curb, so Laurie sweetly offered to drive.

The MTC is so great!  A sweet senior missionary put a pink sticky note on our windshield and directed us toward the missionary drop off zone.

There were lots and lots of missionaries lining the drive! It seemed like hundreds of them - Waving and Smiling and Waving!

It was so exciting!  It was also confusing, because the taxi drop off was on the other side of the road and missionaries were crossing the street and a police man was frantically directing us by, but if we did what he wanted we would have run over a suitcase or two...

We were waved all the way down the drive way to parking spot #22.

A cute sister missionary popped right over and welcomed Hannah to the MTC.

  Then we got her bags out.  

Had one more hug

said goodbye,

and watched as Sister Barrett walked right into the MTC!

We love you Sister Barrett!

Then Laurie drove us home while we all cried.  Thanks again, Laurie!

Here is what Hannah said about her first day at the MTC:  (yesterday was like Christmas around here - we got our first email from Søster Barrett and then TWO letters in the mail!)

Hej!  I made it through my first day!! So, here's a brief overview of what happened.  The host Sister Missionary showed me around and I got my name tag and a dorm room key!  We went to my room (I was the 1st one there) and then she showed me to the teaching room where all my classes will be (I was the 1st one there as well).  My teachers only speak in Danish!  It's fun to try to figure out what they say. 
I finally met my companions!  We are a trio, woohoo!  They are Søster Hale and Søster Grant.  I love them!  We're the only 3 Danish Sister Missionaries in the whole MTC right now.  Cool, huh?  So then we had all kinds of meetings and classes, it was pretty crazy!  The only Danish phrase I can remember is "Hemmelske Fader" - Heavenly Father.  That's a good thing to remember though, right?

 It was a special time, and a special day.

If you want to see a little more about the MTC, KSL did a 5 part report in 2010 about the Provo MTC. We watched it this weekend, and it was fun to see inside!

Yay for Missionaries!