Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mission President's Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Once a year the Mission Presidents and their wives (30 couples in the Europe Area) attend a seminar to receive instruction from the Area Presidency and to share ideas. We were blessed to be visited by Elder Bednar, one of the Twelve Apostles of our church. It was fabulous and a true spiritual feast. This church is truly led by prophets and apostles of God. No doubt about it.
This year the seminar was held in beautiful Copenhagen, Denmark. This was a special blessing because President Nielson's Great Great Grandfather- Peter Nielson was baptized in 1861 in Denmark. He served many years in the Copenhagen area before leaving for America and the Salt Lake City area.

We were met at the airport by our good friends and predecessors, the Engbjergs, who were kind enough to give us a 'whirlwind tour' of the area before our meetings started. They were so good to us during this visit. The first place we headed was to the Frederiksborg Castle...which was stunning inside and out. But the highlight of the castle is....

...the collection of Carl Bloch paintings that it beautifully displays. This exhibit portrays the life of Christ which are truly inspired. An unusual thing about this exhibit is that there is no light in this small room except for a window. Bloch wanted the 'light in Christ's face' to illuminate the paintings and wanted no artificial light on them. This small room contains 23 paintings.

Many of you will recognize these paintings. They are used extensively by our church.

We were so thrilled to be able to see these beautiful paintings. Carl Bloch was truly an inspired artist.

Our next stop was Our Lady's Church in Copenhagen to view the original statue, "The Christus" created by the Danish sculptor, Thorvaldsen. (Completed in 1839)

This statue was once thought of as a emblem of the Protestant faith but it has in many ways become an icon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Christ's out-stretched arms, with the visible nail prints in his hands, beckon everyone to "Come unto Me".

Thorvaldsen's portrayal of Christ as the resurrected Savior was new and unusual. The most common depiction of the time was to show Christ suffering and nailed to the cross. This statue of Christ is inspiring and shows the living and loving characteristics of the Savior of the World.

There is a peaceful, holy spirit here in this beautiful cathedral. Each side of the Christus is lined with statues of the 12 apostles all depicting either their previous professions or the ways in which they were martyred. All statues were sculpted by Thorvaldsen.

The Apostle Peter...looking towards Christ holding a set of 'keys'...depicting the keys of the kingdom. An interesting sidenote: In 1976, the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball visited the cathedral, stood right here, and bore testimony to the group he was with..."Today I am the man holding those keys." Today those 'keys' are held by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.

The Engbjergs then took us to a most unusual tower...the 'Rundetaarn'. Inside the tower is a paved road, wide enough for a king's horse-drawn carriage, circles to the top of the tower...where the king would step out of the carriage and view the city of Copenhagen.

That is one great way to view your kingdom and not waste any extra heart beats!

Next we visited a beautiful 5 story department store and other shops showing typical Danish style. We tasted delicious Danish chocolate then headed to the suburbs of Copenhagen.....


...to have a wonderful dinner at the Engbjergs beautiful home. Thank you, Torben and Anette, for showing us your beloved city, Copenhagen, and ending a perfect day with a delicious home cooked meal! You are the best! We love you.

One of the most wonderful things about going to a Mission President's Seminar is that they are always held in cities that have temples...and we are able to attend a temple session. This is the Copenhagen temple...the 118th operating temple in the world....and it is beautiful.

It is one of the few temples which was converted from an existing church building. During WWII, the chapel was used as a bomb shelter and sustained little damage during the war.

I love the statue of Moroni. It makes me feel at home wherever we see it. It also makes me grateful to be a member of a church that blesses families by enabling them to be sealed together, forever, in holy temples.

President Nielson and I are both very grateful for the blessings of the temple and miss not attending the temple on a weekly basis like we did when we lived in Las Vegas.

That night, all the Mission President's were able to take a short canal cruise to see the city of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen's most famous landmark and major tourist attraction....the Little Mermaid statue unveiled in 1913. It unfortunately has been vandalized many times....her head has been cut off twice. Because of this, there has been talk of moving this small statue further out into the harbour to protect it.

A statue that is dear to the hearts of the early Danish Saints who immigrated to America in the 1880's is this statue....."Kristina". In 1849, Denmark was the first European country to give its' people religious freedom. So in 1850, the first missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints arrived. "Kristina" represents approximately 20,000 Danish Latter-Day Saints who immigrated to America-most of them helping to establish the church in Utah. Peter Nielson and his family being some of them. The sculptor educated at the Royal Danish Academy for Arts, Dennis Smith (Alpine, Utah), is the great -grandson of this 16 year old girl, Kristina , who left her home with her family to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to a new life in Utah.
This is an outdoor swimming pool. The canal water is so clean that they block off areas, build high dives and let the people of the city enjoy the warm summers in the cool water.

After the Seminar, we had several hours before we needed to be at the airport....So we found ourselves at Tivoli Gardens...one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe found in the middle of downtown Copenhagen.


The park is not only filled with beautiful gardens, but also very fun amusement rides...which President Nielson did not feel comfortable going on. (Newspaper headlines: Mission President falls to his death riding a very fast roller coaster he should never have been on!)

But I did manage to get him to ride "The Flying Trunk". A "Small World" -type ride depicting the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen-famous Danish children's author. It was fun and made me a little homesick for Disneyland!

Another ride President Nielson wouldn't let us ride. This one looked really fun....I'm talking about the swings high in the air!!!


Before we left, I had to at least get some great Danish ice cream.....

...leaving the Park and looking for President Nielson...who was catching me in action eating my ice cream!

We race to the airport not wanting to run into long security lines....this is what we found!

President Nielson must have some effect on all the airplanes he travels on... they are either delayed or canceled. As we were heading home that evening, we arrived and found that our flight had been postponed. Since there are 5 different concourses in the Copenhagen Airport, we just wanted to find out which one to go to. The monitor, above, is not very helpful. The flight was supposed to depart at 20:20. So all they told us was check back at 20:20. We did and the sign changed to - check back at 21:20, we did and the sign said - check back at 21:50 and finally without notice, we departed promptly at 22:20. If we had not been at the right gate, the flight would have left without us. President thinks that Lot Airlines may have something against him...

This was a marvelous seminar in Copehagen, Denmark. Elder Bednar was more than we had hoped for. It is absolutely amazing and wonderful to listen to him. We had instruction and teaching that will go to our missionaries and bless lives in many ways. We are blessed more than we are deserving. I love this Church, my missionaries, my family, the people in Poland, the members in Poland and the privilege of serving a mission!

1 comment:

  1. We were thrilled to have Carl Bloch's paintings at the Museum of Art at BYU last year---first time out of Denmark. I took all my classes to see them.

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