Monday, November 18, 2013

Another great week

Way out of service, not just a little bit?  It means the Via is out of service like the way or the path, the track.  But we thought the translation was funny!

P-day today!  We had a HUGE goodbye party for Hna. Blodgett.  A good 50-60 missionaries came.
Me and Hna. Blodgett (long brown hair)
 Me and my hija Hna. Okeefe (blue blouse)
Me and Hna Aagard (with the scarf)
 We have had a lot of rain this week and Hna. Palomino´s umbrella got stuck as we were walking.
Wrapped in the tinfoil is a giant and delicious burrito that we went and got with the B5 hermanas and elders for medio dia one day.

Hola familia y amigos,

Things have really started picking up this week.  We are working a lot with less actives, but we are teaching more!  

We also started teaching a lady that the other hermanas had been teaching.  Her name is Karmen and she is from the Dominican Republic.  She is good friends with a Hermana in our ward, and so we are working with her to teach Karmen.

We still haven´t been able to see Dantel´s aunt, but he introduced us to one of his friends.  We gave her a tour of the church, and are going to meet with her again hopefully tomorrow.  Dantel is amazing, he keeps sharing the gospel and bringing people to church!  He was out of town this weekend, baptizing his friend, but hopefully with him coming back, he can help us get in touch with his aunt.

The Bolivar family are doing well.  We are so excited to work with them and help prepare them for baptism!  And they have such love for missionaries.  They have known quite a few and have such love for all of them.  They ALWAYS feed us.  If I end my mission in this area (It´s quite possible) I might come home a little chubby (ok that´s probably an exageration) cause they feed us 2 or 3 times a week in this area.  I LOVE it.  The food at least.  It is soooo yummy!

We are doing intercambios tonight.  I am staying in Barrio 1 and the Hna. Leader Trainer is coming to visit our area and work with me.  Last week, Hermana Palomino went to work with her in her area.  I guess she wants to do intercambios with both Hermanas and see our area.  I never did it like that.  But she is the only Hna. Leader and I had another one.  Still, this will be my second intercambio with an Hna. Leader since being one myself.  It is super weird.  But the Hermana, Hermana cabellero is AMAZING.  She is Spanish and absolutely wonderful.  I am really excited to spend all of tomorrow with her.

On Thursday we have zone conference.  After, we are doing intercambios with the hermanas in Villalba.  Just north of Madrid.  Hermana Blodgett (I was companions with her for a week in Leganes) goes home this transfer and she started her mission in Barrio 1 so we got permission to do an intercambio because people here really want to see her.  She taught the Bolivar family as well.  So, I am going to Villalba.  I am so excited to do an intercambio out of madrid.  You can google Villalba, cause all I know it is north of madrid.  But I am stoked to get out of madrid.  I LOVE the city, but I have always wanted to see what it is like out of madrid!

Chruch this week was FANTASTICO!  We had 2 less actives come to church!  One, a 12 year old and we went and picked him up.  We are teaching his sister and want to do everything we can, even if it means picking him up, to get him back to church so that he can be a good example to his sister.  And we want him to receive the priesthood.  

Let me tell you he is no normal 12 year old.  He is so kind and so good.  I don´t know how to explain it, but he listens to us and really has the desire to go to church, but as the only member of his family, he is not going to go by himself.  We are working with the Young Mens leader, he was SO happy to see him in church yesterday, so hopefully he can pick him up future sundays.  

Our other less active, is an hermana that we visit every week, and their family seem super active.  They comment on the scriptures we share and pray really well and talk about how they are doing noche de hogar [Family Home Evening], but they don´t come to church.  And although only the mom came, it was good to see her there!

Relief Society was really good too.  We had a few minutes to talk about the importance of missionary work.  We talked about how we needed the Hermanas help, shared Heleman 6:3 and sent around a list asking for hermanas willing to help and when they are available.  I do this in almost every area, and about 3 people will sign it.  We had 20 some sign it!  Now we just need to find people to teach so that we can have these wonderful hermanas accompany us!

And that is our biggest struggle.  We are finding people who say they are willing to meet with us, but this WHOLE transfer, the only people we have begun to teach is Karmen and we have the potential of Dantel´s aunt and his friend.  But as hard as we try to find, we are not having much success.  And it is hard, because we spend a lot of time trying to visit less actives and they live out in the middle of know where so we can´t always find on the way.  

I am also, though, having a hard time talking to people.  I don´t know why, but this whole transfer it has been really hard for me to talk to people.  I will get all nervous and scared as people pass me on the street.  Prayers that I can open my mouth and talk to people, whether they be nice-looking Latins, or stern-looking Spaniards would be nice.

(The steryotype in the mission is that Latins are worth talking to, and Spaniards aren´t as much.  and I think that is making it hard, because I have always had more success teaching Latins.  But spaniards deserve the gospel too.  They are usually the rude ones who harshly turn us down though, so I think it is hard for me to talk to them.  But I want to overcome this!  I use to be able to do it!!!)  And prayers that we can find people who really want to listen and who will progress.  

Even though this has been one of the hardest transfers of my mission, (I have never found it difficult to find people.  We could at least fill our days with people who would meet with us once or so) it has been so rewarding.  There are little miracles that we see all the time.  The members need a lot of help to share the gospel and work with us, but I think they have great potential and desire.  And they sure love us.  We are well taken care of here.  

This is the last week of the Transfer, and I want so badly to be here for Christmas.  Actually I want to end my mission here.  Yikes, I said it!  I hope I am not jinxed now!  I feel like I could make these people my home.  I feel so much love for them, and I don´t really know them that well yet.  I LOVE how we can find joy and happiness even when times are hard!  Even in our trials, we can see miracles!  God is always there to bless us.

I LOVE this gospel, and I KNOW it is true!  The Atonement is real.  I know I need to work hard and do my part, but I know I can change and be better every day.  I know I can work to progress and turn my weaknesses to strengths.  I might fall a hundred times or so, make the same mistakes more than once, but I can get back up and start another day.  I can communicate with my Heavenly Father and tell Him what I am struggling with, and what I am trying to do.  Then together, we can make it happen!  I can always repent and strive to do better.  I am learning so much about the importance of persevering hasta el fin.  I CANNOT speak English sometimes.

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another week of MIRACLES

Hola familia y amigos,

This week has been absolutely wonderful.  We are struggling to find, but we are working with the ward and trying hard to visit less actives and reactivate.  This week has probably been the best of the transfer.

Some news on life in Madrid Spain:  The limpieza, (cleaning crew) are on strike.  The streets are filthy with garbage and litter.  Normally, the streets are swept every day and the garbage cans and dumpsters emptied with frequency. For the past week or so, none of this has happened.  All the garbage cans and dumpsters have filled up and are overflowing with garbage.  And there are garbage bags just sitting on the street next to the garbage cans and dumpsters.  It´s like this all over madrid.  It´s not horrible, but there is a lot of garbage around.  I will try to take some pictures and send them next week.  We don´t know how long it will last.

Random story: we were hunting down a less active and went to this really nice part of our area.  The people in this part, almost lived in houses.  I havent seen a real house in 9 months, it was nice to see one that was almost a house.  It was like a bunch of little houses attached to the next one.  But each one had their own gate and their own garage I think.  And maybe chimneys, but I am not sure if that is a thing in Spain.

Sidenote, Mom, does the new house have a chimney? I forgot those existed and now I really hope we can spend a night warmed by the fireplace.  

Back to my story, so we are looking for this less active in a really nice area, and we are walking toward this green hilly landscape.  Looking closer at it, I see a bunch of people driving in carts, and swinging shiny metal clubs.  I SAW A GOLF COURSE!  I also had forgotten those existed. It was a weird day.  I wonder what else I have forgotten about!?

We had a great lesson with the Bolivar family. This is the family where the parents are not married yet and that has been the only thing holding them back from baptism.  We had a really powerful lesson with them about the restoration and because we knew that they have plans to marry on the 16th of December, we invited them to be baptized.  They have accepted to be baptized the 20th of December!

We are sooo excited for them!  And for their family!  I have so much love and appreciation for this family.  Can you imagine investigating two years, waiting patiently for marriage, and letting your children get baptized before you!  What faith and dedication they have for the gospel!  I love when I have investigators, or less actives or lo que sea (whatever, actually i don´t know how to translate that one) and they are an example to me.  I find myself thinking, I wish I had the faith that they had.  I wish  I was like that.  I LOVE that I can teach them, and they can teach me!  We can both edify each other!  I LOVE this gospel!

Recent converts are amazing!  Justino and Oscar (my recent converts in Barrio 8) both have temple recommends!  In barrio 1 our recent convert, Dantel, recieved the Aronic Priesthood on Sunday, and will be baptizing a friend of his on Saturday!  I think one of my favorite parts of the mission is working with recent converts and helping them have spiritual experiences that will keep them firm in the gospel.   

God has blessed me so much on my mission with small miracles, and big ones! I know as I work hard, I can become the missionary I am meant to be, and I can see miracles every day as I look for them.

I LOVE my mission.  I am learning and growing, and as I do so, I am better able to help others do so.  This week, or maybe this transfer I have been learning about how much I have to change.  I have been thinking a lot about the natural man and I have been thinking about how to overcome him and get rid of him.  This has led me to think a lot about the Atonement, and I have read a lot of scriptures about the mercy and patience God has for us.  How grateful I am for the knowledge that I can repent and improve.  I wake up every day with the desire to be a perfect missionary.  I fall short every day.  But through the atonement I can wake up the next day knowing that I can try again and I always have hope that although I won´t be perfect, I can at least be better.

I LOVE my Savior and I LOVE this Gospel.

No pictures this week, sorry!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, November 4, 2013


pictures from Rosalind's baptism
  the sunset from one of our favorite spots in our area
 If you can see I am wearing hermana Palomino´s chapa and they are both wearing mine.
Halloween and the American table at the nations party.

pictures from aranjuez. I was sooooo happy to see trees!  I was almost in tears.  I was super happy!

Hola familia y amigos,

Okay, this week has been a lot better.  We are beginning to find people and so hopefully this upcoming week we will begin to start teaching.  We only had one lesson this week!  One persone we found was Dantel´s aunt.  Dantel just got baptized, like 2 weeks ago and he is already sharing the gospel.  He brought his aunt to church and we are going to start teaching her!  And he really wants to bring his mom to church!  This guy is incredible!

This week has been really good! We had a great week working with the members, and we are starting to find people to teach. The members are really great and every time we get to know a new family, I fall in love with them. I am so excited to keep working with them and animo them for the obra misional. 

Yesterday we had a really cool experience. I had been praying for opportunities to serve. And I was finding them. Moments where I could help someone carry something or help someone get their stroller on or off the metro. But I wasn´t acting. I rationalized that they wouldnt want my help or that by the time I got to them, my help would not be needed. So I set the goal to find and DO service. Yesterday there was a woman carrying two wooden shelf units. She set them down on a bench to rest and grabbed her arm as if she was in pain/tired. I asked her if we could help and she gave me one of the shelves. We began talking to her as we walked and when we got to the final destination we stayed with her and kept talking as she waited for her sister to come get the shelves. Long story short, she had heard bad things about our church and in the end, she said she respected other religions but did not want to learn more. We left her with a pass along card. I was a little sad that she did not want to meet with us, but I realized that if nothing else she will hopefully think better of us. She may continue to hear bad things about the church, but she will be able to remember the service we provided and hopefully think better of us. And to me this is a MIRACLE!

I LOVE the mission, I LOVE my Savior, and I LOVE the Gospel. I know this church is true, and I am working hard to help others know the same. It is not easy, I have many faults, but I would not change the opportunities or experience I have had and I know I will have!

The part in grey is my letter to President.

Halloween in Spain: Not a thing.  They dressed up and just walked around.  It was really lame.  Apparently there were some parties, but trick or treating isn´t a thing.  There were restaurantes and things decorated but they never really celebrated it.  And the costumes that we did see were pretty gory.  "Blood" on the neck or those franquenstine scars and lots of makeup around the eye to make people look dead.  The kids weren´t dressed this way, but all the adults and teens were.  But only about 1 of every 15 people dressed up.

A family in our ward knew it was a big holiday for us so they had us over for dinner. All day me and Hna. Palomino had switched chapas [name tags], but during dinner everyone switched.  Elder Echegeray from Argentina had one of mine.  It was SO funny.  Best part.  Me and Elder Cloward (in my ward and my zone leader) hit 15 months on the first.  We were talking about this halloween night.  Elder Echegeray, pretending to be me says 15 meses, que guay! (15 months, how cool!)  Then, with the little English that he knows, he says, "Michigan.  My family!" and gets all sad about it.  it was hilarious!

Nov. 1st is a bigger holiday for them. EVERYTHING was closed, and I guess they go to the cemeteries and visit their loved ones and leave flowers and stuff.  It was also Dia de las Naciones. Day of the Nations.  We had a huge ward activity combined with the other ward that shares our capilla and each person brought food from their country.  We had brownies, PB&J and Sloppy Joes.  The Sloppy Joes, I made, and everyone LOVED them.  THey are all so latin though, they would not make a sandwich, but preferred to eat it with their rice.

Today we have spent in Aranjuez.  a BEAUTIFUL pueblito in southern Madrid.  It isn´t really part of madrid, but it is just south of it.  We saw a palace and a lot of pretty gardens.

The day after halloween I found Christmas decorations.  Since thanksgiving is not a thing here, for companion study Nov. 1st we decorated and listened to Christmas music.  We have a Dunkin Donuts in our area so I kept that tradition alive and we got donuts after!  Although thanksgiving is not a thing, we already have two comidas for that day.  The ward members know it is a holiday for us, so they are going to feed us.  We also have zone conference in which we always get dominos pizza, but because it is on thanksgiving, maybe they will do something special.  I don´t know, but it shouldn´t be a bad thanksgiving considering I am in Spain.

One last thing….  I got an email from my recent converts in Guatemala. They told me that I am their favorite missionary and that although they are facing adversities they endure with the gospel. It was amazing to hear them say that. 

However, the best part was that they told me they are preparing and taking classes to go to the TEMPLE!!!!!!  They seem so excited and I am beyond excited for them.  I love that I can email them, and that they email me.  They end the email saying, I´m going to try and translate it, "We hope to see you soon, and what day is better than the day of our much time to you lack to finish the mission?"  I don´t know if this is an invitation, but it is super exciting none the less.  I LOVE them so much!  If my whole mission was to find them, it was worth it.  And I have done more, I LOVE THE MISSION!

I will be smiling all day when I think about them!  Maybe even all week!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen