Monday, September 30, 2013

On the radio en Spanish

Cars parked randomly in the middle of the street.  I have seen parallel parking on the sides of a road, but never in the middle!
The black poster in spanish says, "now we cannot stop to save lives"  I think it is for a hospital or some group like red cross or something.   But I like the missionary relation!

Trying to fix the shower.  There was a hole in the shower pipe and so all the water was coming out right under the handle.  We had to KNEEL to shower! In the end we called the dueno (owner) and he got it fixed for us!  We could not unscrew the old shower hose.  But we had fun trying!

Hola familia y todos,

This has been quite an amazing week.  What an amazing week.  We continue to work hard, and are really blessed for our efforts.  We had some amazing lessons and experiences this week.

Maybe the most incredible was the chance to record for the radio.  I hope so much, that James recieves permision to air our little ¨show¨.  James, we contacted a few months ago.  He does not have time to recieve the lessons, but he was more than willing to let us come down to his radio and record an interview.  

He has a show, but he also has a director that has to approve his material.  So we don´t know yet if it will go on air, but we recorded it!  We got to go with two other Hermanas and 2 elders.   It was so fun to record, and I will never forget the moment.  How blessed I feel to have had the chance to testify of the restoration on radio!  

I had the chance to testify of a message of peace and happiness.  I don´t really remember what i said, i was pretty nervous, but I talked about how the exact church that Jesus established is on the earth again.  I think i said something about eternal families too.  After the experience, there was more I wish I had said, or I wish I had said it more clearly, more boldly, but I did my best and I have to put my faith in that my intention will speak louder than my words.  Oh how badly I hope this gets aired!

This week was a little hard.  We managed to teach a significant amount, but everyone we are teaching seems to be struggling.  Nobody comes to church, or that I know of is reading.  I see their potential and am trying to do everything that I can to help them. but i do not know if i am actually doing everything i can.  

Part of the problem is that they won´t answer their phones and so we cannot even meet with them regularly.  I know meeting with them on a regular bases would help them progress!  But what can I do if they won´t answer their phone?  Sometimes we pass by just to see if they are in, and it has worked occasionally, but we are struggling to see our investigators with a regular basis.  But I try my hardest and feel comfort in that.

I am doing really well.  I am starting to feel like I am truly working my hardest and I sure am trying to make the most of my mission!  I have done this my whole mission, but now, with 5 months left, I feel a drive to work harder and do even more.  I like how I am working, but often I feel like I am not doing enough.  Maybe this is because nobody is progressing, but I just really don´t want to go home with regrets, and I feel the urge to do more, but I don´t know how to feel like I am doing enough.  I guess this is something I need to study and pray about!

I am beyond excited for General Conference.  It is my favorite weekend every 6 months.  Me and my mom always get post Conference depression when conference ends.  It has always been something very special to me!  Lately I have been going with a question or 2 and this makes it all the more meaningful.  This week I will be studying and doing some soul searching to find out what question(s) I want to bring to General Conference.

I LOVE my mission, and look forward to another week to love and testify of my Savior and what he has done for us!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, September 23, 2013

What a week

Hola familia y amigos,

This week has been absolutely amazing.  Probably one of the best of my whole mission!  We worked hard and really saw success.  We had some low moments, but compared with the miracles that we saw, what are a few hard hours!?  One rough day?  In the grand scheme of things, they don´t mean a thing!

We got a member reference from a recent convert in Barrio 6.  He just went through the temple this month and has a friend that lives in Barrio 8.  Her name is Lora and she is Española.  She NEEDS the gospel!  She has lived a hard life, and doesn´t have very much faith in anything good right now.  She is searching for comfort, peace, and happiness.  And this is what we have promised to give her!  At this point I don´t know if she believes it is possible.  She is willing to listen to us, but I feel like as we teach her, she wants to believe but doesn´t see how it can be possible.  I know the gospel can help her.  She has a lot of doubts, but I pray sincerely that she can find faith and that she can find what she is looking for.

I want to take the time to bear my testimony that I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true!  I have read it, I have prayed about it, and God has told me that it is true!  I have had the chance this week to share my conversion of the Book of Mormon with many people.  I want to share it with all of you.  

When I was about 15, our family went to sit outside the Temple and finish reading the Book of Mormon as a family.  This is a tradition we have and whenever we get close to finishing the Book of Mormon as a family we go to the temple.  But this year was special.  I remember after finishing the Book of Mormon, my parents gave us time to walk temple grounds and be alone.  I found my family all walking their own way and I went to a little bench by a flower bush and started thinking.  

I was old enough to start doubting if the Book of Mormon was true.  Mom and Dad always told me it was.  I felt good reading it.  The stories applied to my life and helped me, but was it really a book from God?  Did his prophets really write it?  I was not sure.  So I knelt down and I prayed.  I don´t remember the prayer, but it wasn´t long.  I do remember what happened after.  Exactly.  

As I knelt by that bench, the flowers, and the temple. I felt something.  I felt peace.  I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and testify that the Book of Mormon is true!  The mission has only increased my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I know it is true.  To read its pages and have the words of the ancient prophets counsel me in my day.  Every morning is an hour of bliss as I study the scriptures and the words of Christ and His prophets.

This isn´t actually the story I had planned on telling.  We had an experience with the Book of Mormon that made a good analogy, but I felt like starting with my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  This week, we gave away our last 4 Books of Mormon (Book of Mormons?) . So we called our District Leader and asked if he could bring more to our ward Noche de Hogar [Family Home Evening].  He brought a box and his companion brought a box.  36 Books of Mormon per box.  Me and Hermana O´Keeffe had to carry these boxes home.  36 Books of Mormon are HEAVY.  

We had to walk to the bus stop, and walk home from the bus stop.  We don´t live far from the bus, but we don´t live close either.  I would say from the church to getting on the bus and from getting off the bus to our house we walked a good distance. Enough that we had to stop and rest several times.  Enough that there was once or twice where my arms literaly gave out and I dropped the box.  We were talking about it, and decided that if the Book of Mormon was not true, we would not have carried it so far.  We hurt so bad afterwards.  This was on Wednesday, and I´m mostly back to normal, but my arms still ache a bit!  THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE!

I also want to bear testimony of the Atonement.  We had our ward Noche de Hogar and the elders did one of the coolest atonement analogies I have ever seen!  We stood in a single file line and Elder Shumway (our district leader) put a hymn book far from us.  He told us we had to jump past the hymn book.  Then he took Elder Miles and gave him a raw onion.  He said for every one of us that missed, Elder Miles had to take a bite out of the onion.  Some jumped and actually got close.  None of us made it.  Elder Miles ate just under half of the Union.  Then Elder Shumway says, what about the people that have not come yet?  You have to eat the whole onion.  Eat it for everyone.

So we watch Elder Miles eat a WHOLE onion, and Elder Shumway bore a really powerful testimony about the Savior and how he suffered for us.  The Spirit was so strong, and if I was a crier, I would have been crying my eyes out.  I sure teared up.  We ended by singing “I Stand all Amazed.”  It was perfect.

This week, we talked to a lot of people.  We gave a lot of cards away, and got a lot of received.  It amazes me how easily I can talk to people.  How comfortable I can feel having a conversation with someone.  In SPANISH. I can joke, and show interest.  In the begining of my mission, I kind of felt like I lost my personality, because I could not communicate the way I wanted to.  

Now, things are different.  I SPEAK SPANISH!  And I am persistent, or better:  bold with love.  We were talking to a lady and she told us she was difficult.  She didn´t really believe.  She could listen but not understand.  I asked her if she thought it imposible.  She said no.  I asked her if we could write down her number because we knew this message was for her, she was a precious daughter of God.  And I told her that I liked a challenge.  I was shocked that I said that to somebody!  But she laughed and gave us her number.

We are working better with members and with the ward than ever before!  We are going to see the broadcast from FOREVER ago on Sunday.  At least parts of it.  Better than nothing right?  And we are inviting members to help us in lessons and asking our bishop and ward mission leader to help with things that we are struggling with.  We usually write our struggles on our informe but to actually call and ask or ask during correlation is making a huge difference.  

And we are teaching a mother and her 14 year old daughter.  We talked with the Young Womens president and she got us in contact with the miamaid advisor who is going to come with us to our next lesson to support, AND invite her to activites so that she can get to know the other young women!  None of that would have happened had we not asked!

Barrio 8 is amazing!  Our recent converts and those of the other missionaries are doing so well. One blessed the sacrament yesterday and was just called to be Young Mens Secretary.  He has been a member for about 3 months!  Our recent convert Oscar is going to help the Elders teach one of their investigators and fellowship him!  This work is just amazing!

The last thing I want to talk about is bread.  I absolutely LOVE bread.  I have a sandwich every day and occassionaly will just buy a barra de pan; it is like a fresh little loaf of bread that I will eat plain and right away. Especially if I am having a hard day.  One of the Elders has noticed me with bread a few times and always asks me when the last time I had bread was.  It is super funny.  He actually gave me bread once.  We just had a lot of jokes about it, and it is super funny.  

But I was also thinking one day about our meeting with Elder Ballard.  I made myself laugh when I realized that when he is discouraged he looks at a picture of the Savior.  When I am discouraged, I buy bread.  This got me thinking though about how Christ is the bread of life.  Studying His life and what He has done for me and for everyone does bring me much more joy than an actual loaf of bread.

So as you can see by the length of this email, it has been an AMAZING week!  And things are only going to get better!  We are working hard, and are going to keep working HARDER, because that is what brings the miracles.  I am HIGH on life as I write this to you all.  Very very happy!  It just doesn´t get better than this!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, September 16, 2013

An apostle of the Lord

Food that I LOVE.  Especially a loaf of bread.  It is like french bread, but tastes sooo good. especially buying it fresh and warm!
Me and Hna O´Keeffe after the temple. 
 Me wearing pants while in the Piso cause it was COLD.  Oh yea, we seem to have beat the worst of the heat.  It is COLD in the mornings.  It is still pretty hot and miserable during the day, but the mornings are nice.  I sleep with a thin blanket too.  Much better!
Villa de Vallecas celebration of a Spanish Virgin.  They had drums beating and people walking in a parade.  It was some real Spain culture that was cool to see

Hola Familia y todos,

We had an INCREDIBLE week.  We worked hard, and have truly seen miracles.  Justino and Oscar, recent converts are progressing well.

We continue to work hard with those that are not progressing as well.  We have found so many people, now we just need to work to find those that are prepared for this message.  The hardest thing for people is to come to church.  They have work, or they cant afford it, or something comes up.  But we are starting to really try and focus on the importance of keeping commitments.

We are trying to teach with the Spirit.  We are trying to teach better and use the book of Mormon more.  We did not teach much this week, but the lessons we had were amazing! 

I love the mission so much.  There is one very special experience that I want to share with you all.  This week, Saturday, we were very blessed to be in the presence of Elder Ballard, an Apostle of the Lord.  He was in Europe doing Priesthood training and organizing stakes and what not.  He did not think he would have time, but he rearranged his schedule to meet with the Madrid missionaries and all the missionaries in the MTC.  He also shook each and every one of our hands.

This is where the amazingness begins.  He is shaking hands and saying good morning, or asking people how they are.  Just expressing nice phrases.  I walk up to him to shake his hand and I don´t remember who spoke first but I said thank you, and he said one word, ¨"Beautiful"  

Stunned, not sure I heard correctly, I sat back down.  Hna. O´Keeffe joins me and whispers, did Elder Ballard say Beautiful to you?  She had heard it too!  How special and blessed I felt.  

I don´t know why this happened, there are about 50 hnas in the mission and I think they are just as beautiful if not more so in looks and in Spirit.  But God blessed me with this experience.  I dont think I needed it, nor was I looking for it.  But it has given me confidence.  How can you not feel confident after an apostle has told you you are beautiful!

And he gave the BEST talk.  He talked about desire.  He read a lot in D&C 11 and talked about desire.  If our desire is right, we will have success.  He talked about the importance of using our time well, and turning it all over to Him.  He talked about studying the gospel and really knowing it, so that we could use it.  And he talked about Gethsemane.  He talked about the Atonement, and it changed my life.

Elder Ballard told us flat out that he was tired.  He said he asked himself why an 85 year old man should be running around Europe like so.  He said his body was tired and sometimes he just wanted to rest.  He talked about how tired he was and how his body ached sometimes and he wanted to rest.  Then he looked up, and looked at us and said (more or less a quote) "But I keep going, because I understand Gethsemane."  

He then told us that he had a picture of Jesus Christ that he always had with him.  Whenever he felt slightly disanimo-ed (dissapointed, discouraged algo asi....) he would pull out this picture and think about how NOTHING God asks us to do, could ever come close to what He asked His Son to do.

So I found a picture of Christ that I LOVE.  I now carry it around with me.  I invite all of you to do the same.  Look for one in an ensign, the internet, an art store.  Carry it around with you.  Look at it.  Remember what He did.  Think about Him more often.

I LOVE my Savior.  This week, and the rest of my mission and LIFE I am striving to strengthen my desire to show Him my love.  I am going to serve Him the best I can, because I have felt His love for me SO STRONGLY that I have to do all I can to return that.  and I WANT to do all I can. I know this church is true.  I love it with all my heart.  It really is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the fullness and completeness of His teachings.

On sunday, we watched the long Joseph Smith movie with Oscar.  I felt and feel so strongly that these things are true.  My testimony grows every day!  I never want these feelings to end! I love the mission and all the blessings and experiences God has given me!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, September 9, 2013

What a week!

Oscar´s baptism.
Justino. I´m almost certain he has seen twice the number of baptisms as he has had days where he was supposed to get baptized.
Me and Hna. Aagard (aka Jordan Johnson’s cousin) we are probably best friends in the mission even though we have never been companions.  At least she is my favorite Hermana in the mission.  And she always tells me how much she loves me, so we are pretty close!
 Me and my companion and hija.  She is so wonderful.  So much like me, she really feels like a hija.  And a good friend.
All the Hermanas!
My clothes hanging out to dry!  SO european.  I don´t know if I ever mentioned it but we hang our clothes out the window to dry them.  Pretty legit huh!

Hola Familia y amigos,

Well, we had another baptism!  Oscar, an investigator being taught by the other Hermanas until this past week, was baptized on Saturday.  We taught him the last few commandments.  He and Justino were confirmed with the Holy Ghost on Sunday. We teased it might take Justino another 6 months and 8 attempts to get confirmed but were very happy to see him at church that Sunday.  He even had a white shirt and tie!  Our district leader helped him tie it.  He was soo cute!

We continue to find and teach and teach and find.  Such is the life of a missionary.  It has been a really good week.  We taught a lot of lessons because we got several investigators from the other Hermanas.  I have really good feelings about this transfer.  I am ready to work hard and expect the Lord to work miracles through me.  A scripture I really like right now is Helaman 10:4,5.  It is my mantra and goal right now!

We tried to find a lot of less actives this week.  The relief society presidency gave us a list of 6 Hermanas they didn´t know and we found information on 5 of them.  We are still working with the last one.  They seemed really impressed.  They might give us more.  We had 45 missionaries enter the mission on Wednesday.  There are now 10 of us in Barrio 8.  The most in the whole mission.  God has a work for us to do!

I can feel something stirring in me too!  And in our ward.  Many of them are talking to us more, and the leadership (mostly bishop and ward mission leader) are really wanting to do more with missionary work.  The whole month of October the ward is dedicating a focus to missionary work.

We had a cool lesson this week.  3 teenage boys (18ish) came to the MTC reception and were asking questions to the receptionist just as we were finishing a lesson.  She directed them to us and we had the chance to show them temple grounds, and the capilla (chapel).  I answered all their questions, and pretty much taught them everything (even a little of the law of chastity).  We invited them to church, they didn´t come, but they seemed very impressed with what we believed in and all.  It was cool.

This week, we have been trying to reach our goals better.  To find more, we decided we would not go home for medio dia until we had found one person.  This helped us talk to more people, and one day gave us a cool experience.  

We were trying to find a less active, and contact as well.  We were talking to a lot of people, but nobody was all too interested.  Mediodia was appraoching and the people were dwindling.  During Mediodia NOBODY is on the streets.  I was worried we were going to have to spend mediodia walking around trying to FIND someone to contact.  I started talking to every. single. person.  Nada.  

A little frustrated, I decided we should go home and see if there were more people in that part of our area.  As we got to the metro, and had to wait a few minutes before it came, I had the impresion that we could find someone while on our way back home.  A little doubtful we sat down next to a guy, and I asked him where he was from.  He said the Philippines.  I asked if he spoke English (they all do).  We then had a conversation in English, I explained why we were in Spain, and he said we could write down his number.  God really blessed us!

So, basically, I LOVE the mission.  I love My Savior.  I know He loves me and all of His children.  He LOVES YOU!  He wants to help you.  I know that no matter how hard, no matter how hopeless, no matter our past, present or future, God will never forget us.  We can never do anything to lose his love and his help.  But we have to want it.  We have to work for it.  We have to try.  And if we do, we will succeed.  Because God asks us to try, and there is success in doing what God asks of us!

I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true.  I have been studying its pages daily and every morning I read and ponder just what I need for the day or for the week!  I know this church is true.  I love it so much!  Only through the truth, and Jesus Christ can I feel such joy and happiness.  Sometimes things are hard, but we can handle everything we are given!  And we never have to do anything alone!

Con amor,
 Hermana Olsen