Monday, July 29, 2013

We are BUSY

Hola familia y amigos,

First off, I love you all!  What a week we have had in Spain!  I now have my hija Hna. O´keeffe from Stoke-on-trent near Manchester.  She is SO COOL.  I like her accent.  We get along really well.  Her brother is serving in London South, I hear thats a pretty good mission :) right dad?  Training is going well.  Better this time.  This week was a little slow because of splitting the area.  Montes did not get baptized, he had to work.  We will try to do it this week. During the week will probably be better for him. 

We might be moving soon.  I got an email from the Office Elders telling us about a few pisos we can look at.  So along with being a trainer, missionary leader hermana, and just regular missionary, we will also be piso hunting! wow. Talk about being busy. 

We are finding a ton and really working hard.  Now we just need to get the ward involved.  This is where I struggle, because I don´t know the ward very well.  I´m probably just going to call some families this week and see if we can visit.  And we have to get some help in ward council. We just have never been invited.  The elders go though, so I will talk to Elder Barragan.  He is also my district leader.  He is so amazing.  He is really supportive and works hard to make our district a good one.

Highlights of the week: MIRACLES.  Many of you have heard about Elder Ward.  He was in the MTC and just came into the field earlier this week.  His first full day he traveled to the north to meet his companion up there.  He was on the train that derailed. 

President told us 1/3 of the passengers died and all were seriously injured.  When the text came out to the whole mission that Elder Ward was on the train and in a serious condition in the hospital, me and my companion (in the MTC with him and knows him very well) immediately dropped to our knees to pray for the Lord’s Will and for the safety of Elder Ward. 

The next morning we received a text that he had been released from the hospital.  I have gained a real testimony of the power of prayer.  Receiving the text that he was out of the hospital brought me to my knees in a prayer of gratitude.  I know prayer works and I am so grateful for the example of Elder Ward and for God´s love to answer our prayers. 

It was a powerful day to think that we did not know what was going to happen but to think of 100+ righteous missionaries on their knees praying for him.  It was a horrid thing to happen, but I think everyone in the mission learned a lot.  President says he will be out and working among us soon!  We are very happy for him to be okay.

This transfer I continue to be Hermana Leader.  We had a really cool first lesson this week with Orlin.  He was a reference from a member in Barrio 6, where I had just been serving.  He really liked the restoration, told us he would pray about it, and be baptized if he knew it was true.  He also said he would talk to his wife to see if we can teach the whole family and look for other people that need a message of the truth! 

We visited a less active yesterday and I have been trying hard to ask for references this transfer.  So I asked her, and she gave us the name and number of her friend and neighbor!

Miracles are real. This church is true! I LOVE the mission.  I have never been so tired, nor so HAPPY in my life!  Working hard brings happiness and i LOVE EVERYTHING about the mission!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miracles are happening

Hola familia y amigos,

I have had quite the week.  Let’s start with the not so good news.  Justino flaked on us again and did not get baptized.  There had been a baptism and so we just kept the font filled and he said he was going to come at 9.  Then he texted us saying he would be late.  We said we would wait.  In the end he told us not to wait, better another week.  I went in the bathroom and cried.  I just don´t understand this guy.  He is an emotional roller coaster.  He progresses so well and everything goes so well, and then he just dives off the deep end and can´t meet us.  He didn´t even come to church.

On the bright side, transfers were today and we found out on saturday. I am VERY pleased with the transfer assignments. My companions will continue being companions and I am training.  We are all staying in the same area though.  Which is good, but we had to split the area.  Of course I would have been pleased with anything, but I am glad that I will still be in Vallecas and that Hermanas Seastrand and Manner are staying too.  I know they are excited as well.  

I definitely did not expect to be training this transfer.  I thought I would train next transfer.  But I am excited.  I learned a lot while finishing Hermana Manners training and I think I will do some things differently and hopefully improve in my ability to train.

This week was a little nerve wracking waiting for transfers and trying to make it a good end of the transfer.  And of course we had everything crazy waiting to see if Justino would get baptized or not.  But what can we do?  He has agency.  Yesterday we split the area.  That was hard.  It is nice that we are in the same area and can still see these people but hard that we can´t teach them and watch them progress as much as we were able.  I will no longer be teaching Justino, Miranda, or Mauro.

I think splitting the area will be good though.  We have big plans to work with less actives and part member families to find more and to find through the ward.  I expect miracles this transfer!  I am willing to give it my all and really am excited for what this transfer is going to bring.

Remember Montes, the Muslim who was going to get baptized, but then he disappeared?  Well he called us the other day and we met with him this week.  He has accepted to be baptized this Saturday the 27th.  Please pray for him.  I´m a little worried that his friends are going to continue to be an obstacle and I have faith that God can provide a way for him to be baptized, I´m just a little worried.  Also, he has so many problems with his phone, I am scared we will lose him again!

Now I want to tell you about Guiomar.  We found him in the phone and he works in a little food store.  He is always working so we have to teach him there for now, but he has hours when hardly anyone comes so we just go then.  We have taught him twice, but he has been taught a bunch by other missionaries.  He has a Book of Mormon all marked up and a hymn book.  

Guiomar’s biggest issue is if this is the only true church, and he has to work on Sunday.  We had a “get to know you” lesson and then taught the restoration.  It was a powerful lesson even though we were in his store.  We focused on the loss and restoration of authority and how it was the only true church because it had the fulness of the gospel and it was the same church that Jesus Christ established.  He knows the Book of Mormon is true tambien.  We talked a lot about receiving revelation through prayer and I committed him to praying to know if he should be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

I called him the next day to see if he had prayed and he said yes and that he felt calm.  We are seeing him on Tuesday and I am super excited to invite him to be baptized!  I know it will still take some time getting him to come to church, but once he understands that he needs to be baptized hopefully he will put his trust in God and close his store on Sunday.

Raul went on vacation but just got back so hopefully we will be able to meet with him soon.

Andreo is someone we found in the phone as well.  He tells us he has doubts, he seems to not be a fan of organized religion, but he has such a good spirit and I can see his potential. He just needs to understand the Book of Mormon.    

We want to work on finding a lot this transfer.  And we want to work through the members.  The problem is, it´s hard to get references.  Maybe some of you can help.  What would you want the missionaries to come to you and say, or how should they approach the situation?  What would make you share the gospel with someone you care about?  We also want to work with less actives and part member families.

And we want to work in part of our area that is a bit farther out. It takes about an hour to get there, and it is called Rivas.  We have been there to visit a recent convert family and all of us feel really good about the area.  And in Rivas there are the closest thing to houses that we have seen in our area, which means families.  We have quite a few members who live in Rivas so they would be able to help too.  We want Rivas to have its own branch or ward someday.  We have dubbed this transfer and given it a name- "Light Up Rivas."

I am really excited for this transfer.  I am ready to work hard and see miracles!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, July 15, 2013

A week of faith, trials, and miracles!

Hola familia y amigos,

This week was much better.  Still hard, we had a baptism fall through last minute.  I don´t really want to think about it.  Basically he really wants to get baptized but he has Muslim friends and they do not and they are talking bad about him and so he cannot get baptized in this situation.  We really thought he would get baptized, everything was going so well, but now he won´t answer the phone. 

He stopped answering his phone the day before his baptismal interview and we spent 2 days tracking him down when we didn´t have lessons.  We finally found him and he explained that he cannot get baptized with his friends talking about him like they are.  He looked so sad and hopeless.  It was hard, because he was so set on getting baptized and so excited.  I have hope for him in the future though.  He did not get baptized this week, but he is in the Lords hands, and I have faith that he can get baptized someday.

I have really learned a lot about faith this transfer, huh?  And enduring.  Because the blessings always come.  We have another investigator that is pretty set for getting baptized this week, the 20th.  This is Justino the investigator we tried to baptize over the weekend like 2 weeks ago.  He finally felt his toque (like a knock or touch) that he has been waiting for to tell him he is ready.  He came to church on Sunday and really seems excited for saturday. 

PLEASE pray for him this week that he can continue to feel that he should get baptized and that he can have evenings off from work so that he can meet with us and have time for a baptismal interview.  And we extended a baptismal invite to someone who has been meeting with missionaries for 2 years and she accepted saying she had been thinking about baptism! 

We also continue to find more people to teach.  Vallecas is a great area with many people ready to accept the Gospel.  We are working really hard and really well in this trio.  I love my companions very much with how well we get a long and the amazing work we have done this transfer. 

Next transfer I would not be surprised if we had a baptism every week.  We had planned originally on baptizing 5 of our investigators this transfer, and while that did not happen, we realized that all 5 of them are at the point where they want to be baptized and so a lot of that will be happening next transfer.

We really do work well together and I hope that can last as long as possible.  We make a good team.

Intercambios were really good this week. We did them twice. With both of the B6 hermanas.  I spent a day with Hna. Stepp in my area.  She is so sincere and servicable.  I also spent a day in Barrio 6 with Hna. Smith.  She is wonderful.  I LOVE going back to barrio 6 for intercambios.  I lived in that piso for 2 transfers and really enjoyed everything.  It was fun to spend the night with my girls again and to walk around my old area.  I LOVE the mission and I LOVE Spain.

What else happened this week?  We have no AC in our piso.  We are dying of heat.  But we are going to buy fans today because the mission will reimburse them!  August is coming up and so a lot of people are out of town.  We have one investigator who has been out of town this whole month and gets back early August.

People here know how to survive heat.  They carry around abanicos (fans, like you would see Mulan use)  the ones that fold out. I bought one and it has saved my life.  hehe.  They also have shutters that they use to keep it nice and dark in the piso so the sun doesnt heat everything up.  And if you freeze a waterbottle half full then it stays cold longer.  But still not all day. 

Also one day it was raining and the rain evaporated almost as quickly as it landed on the hot pavement.  I got water on my shirt but didn´t bother to change because it dried by the time we got to the bus stop about 3 minutes from our piso.  IT´S HOT!  I feel like I am melting.  I am very excited for it to cool down.  The other day it was like 41.  I think that is in the 100´s but I am not sure....

This weekend there are going to be like 9 baptisms.  We are having a baptism at 6 and just baptizing everyone.  One area is having 5 baptisms, we are having Justino, and a few others.  The work is progressing. 

We are expecting 7 Hermanas this upcoming week and 13 the next transfer.  The Lord is hastening His work. 

Our investigators our progressing very well.  We need to start finding, because of those that we teach regularly, 4 of the 5 or 6 have baptismal dates or have explicitly said yes I want to be baptized.  The best of this was with Mauro.  He is 26 and just super prepared for the gospel.  He has always agreed that our church was good and he has seriously been considering baptism, but it wasn´t until recently that we helped him understand that this is the true church when we asked him to specifically pray and ask if he should be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He prayed and of course he got an answer. Now he just wants a little time to talk to his family and learn a bit more.  I think we will give him a fecha next time we see him (he works a TON) for mid august or early september!

We still haven´t seen the worldwide broad cast. Unfortunately, it´s not really a thing here.  Nobody really knows about it.  We told our bishop and he hadn´t heard.  And so he said he would wait for the Stake president to do something about it.  He is a good bishop, but when it comes to things like this, the people don´t take initiative.  I hope the members see it soon, because they need to help us, the work would go soooo much better!  Maybe this week!

Things are going really well!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, July 8, 2013


[This is the outfit and the tiara I sent Shelby for her birthday.  I put $ in her account for her to buy a birthday treat; she's pointing to her delicious dessert.]

Hola familia y amigos,

This week was good, but hard.  I have continued to exercise my faith and really hope for good things to happen.  Yet they have not happened the way I expected.

This week, James, an investigator from Barrio 2 got baptized. Remember James???  I found him, or he found me, while I was serving in Barrio 6.  Me and Hermana Hansen then Hermana Munden started teaching him.  When we unfortunately found out he was not in our area, we passed him on. When I learned that he had accepted to be baptized I was beyond excited.  I really enjoyed teaching him and really felt a special connection as missionary and investigator with him.  If ever there was a baptism I wanted to see it was this one.  I was really excited to go to the baptism and bring one of our investigators who is getting baptized this week.

I called our investigator and everything was good to go.  We were going to meet him in our area and then go to the baptism together.  We went to our designated meeting spot and he was not around.  Nor did he answer his phone.  I believed so hard that I could go to this baptism and that James would want me there too, and our investigator would benefit from seeing one.  I had faith that it would work out.  

I suggested we pray and then I called him one more time.  He answered and said he was on his way and close.  How relieved I felt.  He soon came and I was very pleased. We were going to the baptism! But then he told us that he couldn´t go all the way to Manuel Becerra.  He did not have time.  I tried to help him see that it would be good, but he really said he couldn´t.  I finally backed down because I knew it was more important he go to church the next day then see the baptism.  That was a hard thing to do.

I am trying so hard to have faith, and see miracles.  I know things are happening for a reason.  I know I am going to keep being faithful and doing the best I can, but I just don´t understand.  I´m doing okay, but I cannot lie and say I am not a bit discouraged.  Part of me doesn´t want to have faith anymore, because it just hurts so much.  But I know blessings will and have come, and I know I will keep persevering.  Other than this, it has been a wonderful week.

Dad, I really liked what you said in your email.  That will really help me this week.  And a lot of good things happened this week. I just need to focus on those!

We had 2 investigators at church that we were not expecting to come.  Justino, the man we tried to baptize last weekend came, which is good because he hasn´t in a while and he hasn´t been able to meet with us in a while.  I think he is working more during the week so he can come to church.  I hope this will help him progress towards baptism.  

We also had Miranda come to church.  I called her about an hour before it started and I´m pretty sure I woke her up.  She had an excuse that she didn´t have her bus pass.  I don´t like excuses so I very politely asked if she could buy a ticket and she said she would see if she could use her mom´s bus pass.  I kind of figured that was her making another excuse so when she walked into sacrament meeting with about 20 minutes left I was beyond feliz!  

We have been receiving more and working really hard.  I always find great joy in working hard and I really love the mission, even the hard parts.  We have been going through our area phone numbers and just calling people who are listed as investigators to see if they want to meet again.  

Last night we had a lesson with such a person.  He is from Brazil and she is from Ecuador and they have a 3 year old boy.  AND they are MARRIED! whoot whoot.  He has read the Book of Mormon a bit, but he doesnt really believe in Churches.  He talked about how they are super corrupt and prideful and all.  Hopefully he will be open to listening about one that isnt.

Now I want to tell you all about Montes.  He is getting baptized this Saturday and he is AMAZING. He is from Senegal and speaks his native language and French and as for Spanish mas o menos.  So he is fun to teach.  We had to teach repentance a good 7 times for him to understand.  But he has a Muslim father and a Christian mother and he prefers the Christian belief.  

I really don´t know if he understands everything, but he prayed and felt good and has such a desire to do what is right. He quit smoking cold turkey and when we told him he couldn´t wear his earring he just threw it at the wall.  He always asks us if something is bad and really wants to do what is right. He is MOVING pisos becasue his Muslim friends don´t like that he is getting baptized.  

We had a miracle with him this week.  He did not come to church on Sunday and so we were questioning his baptism preparedness.  He had only come to church twice and we thought the mission rule was 3 times but it is just several or various.  So more than one. We had talked to the AP´s to see if they could help and they explained the church rule and basically said to pray.  So we did and felt really good about Montes getting baptized this week.  Then he called and explained why he wasnt at church and had a really good excuse.  He was on his way and his Muslim friends stopped him.  This is why he is moving.

We had zone conference on the 4th and got to sing the national anthem.  That was fun.

We had the most legit food appointment.  She took us to an all-you-can-eat asian buffet.  Sushi, chinese bread, rice and really good food!  It was for her birthday.  I felt like I was back in Ogden.  Members taking us out to eat.  Never did I expect that in Spain.  It was BEAUTIFUL!

My BIRTHDAY.  I forgot about that one.  It was SOOO good. THanks for the outfit mom/keith.  I LOVE it!  Everyone was really nice to me.  Lots of different Hermanas called me.  Hermana Hansen sang happy birthday to me in Norwegian.  President and Hermana Jackson called.  It was a good day. 

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, July 1, 2013

what a week

 Our P-day trip to Segovia with 20 hermanas.

Hola familia y amigos,

I haven´t much time.  So this letter is kind of short.  But there is really only the one experience I want to share with you.  On Tuesday, I had a meeting for the leadership and the Assistants to the President encouraged us to have a baptism this weekend.  I talked about it with my companions and we acted with faith and here is what happened:

I think this week was the hardest week of my mission. But I learned a lot.

We took up the Assistants challenge to have a baptism this weekend. We had one investigator that could potentially get baptized this weekend. He has had several fechas and always falls through at the last minute. We figured trying to do it in a weekend was something different and might be what he needed. With intercambios that I have had to do, I didn´t get back from the meeting until wednesday night and he could not meet with us until friday.

We planned a really spiritual lesson. We read Christ´s baptism in Matthew, watched a 4 minute video about him, let the Spirit fill the room, and then Hna. Manner invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized tomorrow at 5. It was all golden and he was saying si si si, until he heard the tomorrow at 5.

He says he wants to be baptized, he just doesn’t feel ready. We talked to him for a long time trying to help him, because we know he is ready. In the end we left him with the invitation to pray and ask God if he should be baptized the following day. We had so much faith that he was going to say yes with this lesson, but we kept the faith knowing that God would answer him if he prayed.

We continued on hoping to talk to him the next morning and then put together the baptism. But the next morning he wouldn’t answer his phone. When he finally did, he told us that he felt awful the night before and couldn´t pray. We were devastated, but he agreed to meet us at 7 that night and we thought, maybe we could talk to him then and have the baptism at 8 or so. We didn´t want to give up, we didn´t want to lose faith.

The day wore on and things only got worse. Other investigators started failing us and in the end we were not able to see our investigator  who was supposed to get baptized at all that day. But he promised to come to church, so we figured maybe he could get baptized on Sunday. He wasn´t able to make it to church either. We still haven´t seen him. We have a lesson with him tonight though. I hope.

I don´t know why things happened this way. We had so much faith, and we prayed harder than I´ve ever prayed with companions. We even fasted. It was a hard and emotional week. But I learned to keep on carrying on. We ended this weekend exhausted but knowing that we had done our best. We did not give up. I don´t know if our faith was not enough, or why it was the way it was, but I know God is in charge.

I have thought a lot about this experience. Although it hurts, and we felt like our faith was not enough, and that Satan won, I realized a few things. The church is still true. God still loves me. The book of Mormon is still the word of God. Jesus Christ is still my Savior. I have faith that our investigator will get baptized one day, maybe next weekend!

This week was hard.  But it ended with a miracle.  We had an investigator come to church, against all odds.  He told us he wanted to play soccer sunday morning, but he came to church instead!  We were soooo happy for him, and I truly believe this is a miracle from God blessing us for not giving up on trying to have a baptism.

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen