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

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