Monday, December 30, 2013

Feliz Navidad y año nuevo

Hola familia y amigos,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The past 2 weeks have been fantastic.  We have had some rough moments, but things have been going well.  We had a lot of Christmas miracles.

There was one where we read The Living Christ [see below] as a lesson!  The lady did not have much interest (she is super Catholic) but she accepted a Christmas message.  We read The Living Christ with her, and it got her asking about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  We now have a return appointment with her.  

I love the Spirit that came into the room as we read The Living Christ with her.  This lady actually, when we contacted her, accepted a card, but would not give us her number.  She told us she was one of those weird Catholics that actually went to church every Sunday.  Half an hour later she called us asking if we had a Christmas program.  This happened the week after our awesome missionary one! que pena!  

But we invited her to our ward Christmas Cena.  She did not come.  So I called her and asked if we could come by and share a Christmas message and give her a Christmas DVD.  I was sure she would say no, but she didn´t!  And after the holidays we are going to start teaching her.

Christmas was great.  I LOVED the devotional.  Our Christmas Eve was spent in Pavones by the temple where President and Hna Jackson spoke to us. We also got to see some of the new Bible videos about the nativity.  Lastly, we heard from some of the Jackson’s friends who are currently running the Jerusalem center.  It was really neat.

I haven´t much time this week, but I love you all!  I forgot my camera cord too, but pictures will come soon!

I know this church is true.  I learn so much every day that strengthens my testimony.  I am so grateful for the mission and what I am learning and who I am becoming.  I know my Savior lives and loves me! 

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles
As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son. (2000)
Gordon B. Hinckley (First Presidency)
Thomas S. Monson (First Presidency)
James E. Faust (First Presidency)
Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)
L. Tom Perry (Quorum of the Twelve)
David B. Haight (Quorum of the Twelve)
Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)
Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve)
Dallin H. Oaks (Quorum of the Twelve)
M. Russell Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve)
Joseph B. Wirthlin (Quorum of the Twelve)
Richard G. Scott (Quorum of the Twelve)
Robert D. Hales (Quorum of the Twelve)
Jeffrey R. Holland (Quorum of the Twelve)
Henry B. Eyring (Quorum of the Twelve)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ups and downs- what more can you expect in the life of a missionary?

Hola familia y amigos,

This week has been really good.  We have continued to find new investigators to teach!  The mission is full of miracles!  I love it so much!  We are finding amazing people too.  And we are teaching with unity and the Spirit.

Which leads me to a cool experience we had yesterday.  We taught Angelino for the first time.  We decided to teach him about the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ.  We usually explain what the Book of Mormon is, using the pictures in the front, then we read a scripture that we think they will like, or that is meaningful to us, and then we end reading Moroni 10:3-5 with an invitation to read and pray.  

My “go to” scripture is Alma 7:11-12, but I really felt like we needed to read something from 3rd Nefi 11. Only to find out later, that Hna. Palomino had the same impression.  She knew I was leading the lesson, and I had the Book of Mormon so she didn´t know how to tell me to go to 3rd Nefi 11.  And she figured I would read in Alma 7.  But the Spirit was in charge of that lesson, not us! 

We also had a first lesson with Maricel.  When we got there she was in the shower but her long- time friend and roommate let us in and told us we could wait.  We talked to her for a while and were able to teach both of them about the Book of Mormon. Maricel definitely has more interest, but they both agreed to us returning and are both going to be there when we pass by.

We had a lot of lessons set up for this week, but many of them fell through.  When this happens we always tell ourselves, "Well, at least we have lessons that can fall through"  There were a few weeks when we couldn´t even schedule lessons.

We have had a goal this week, to pray before each of our lessons, something we have both done with other companions, but have forgotten about.  It has made a HUGE difference in our lessons.  I guess, more than anything this week, I have seen the Spirit guide our lessons.  It has been amazing to see the difference a simple prayer before a lesson can make.  I know the Spirit is what converts people, and I am so glad that we have been able to have a stronger presence of the Spirit in our lessons!

So, it sounds like we have been having a pretty good week.  And we have, but we are currently in a bit of a rough patch.  This morning we were notified that the Bolivars are not going to get married anymore.

Long story short we cried a lot this morning and don´t really know how to help them.  I have said some of the most fervent prayers of my life this morning.  And it has payed off.  I was praying, pouring out my heart.  Praying for strength and comfort for me and for them.  And for inspiration.  Obviously Satan has an influence.  God wants them to get baptized and married, Satan does not.  We are not sure what to do to help them, but we are not going to give up on them!  

So, as I was praying I felt strongly that we should read “A Family Proclamation to the World” [see below] with them.  I went to go get it so I could read it through (it´s been a while since I have read it in Spanish) and Hna. Palomino asked what I was grabbing.  I told her, and she said that she also felt very strongly that that was what they needed to hear.  

We are going to pass by, once we finish emailing.  PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM!  I am very worried about them.  My SOUL hurt so bad this morning.  I don´t think I have ever hurt so bad or been so sad.  It still hurts a lot, but we are getting through.  PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM!

But a lot of good things are happening, and we are having faith that everything will work out according to His plan.  The mission wasn´t supposed to be easy.  This week is going to be a lot of fun!  

We have zone conference and the temple on Wednesday.  That night, we are going to a Real Madrid soccer game.  And, some members told us, that it is the BEST game we could have gone to. In the end, the tickets were cheap because they are playing a lower team, BUT it is a tournament game.  Which means, they have to win.  If they do not win this game, they are going to be out of the tournament, and done for the season.  SO, they are going to be playing their best players!  We are so excited for this game.  And, the Hermanas coming from Alcala, have permision to spend the night because president doesnt want them traveling late at night.  

Christmas Eve we have a devotional for us missionaries, by President.  We are then going to Alcala to spend the night with them! 2 sleepovers in just over a week. hahaa.  Who knew the mission was so fun!  Hna. Palomino has recent converts in Alcala and we are spending the day with them, until we go to Skype.  They are from Mexico and I am very excited to eat delicious Mexican food on Christmas!  We visited them once this transfer and they are an amazing family.  I am excited for our plans.

I know this church is true!  I know this work is important.  I strive every day to do better and to share it with more.  I am weak, but He makes me strong!  I NEVER want this to end!  I know my Savior lives and loves me!  What a blessing!

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

The Family

A Proclamation to the World
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I love the mission!

Hola familia y amigos,

This week has been absolutely amazing.  We continue to find and teach more every day!  And I am truly convinced that we are finding people prepared.  I pray hard every day that we can find those prepared for the Gospel and that I can know how to help those that we are currently teaching.  For that is why I am here!

I am so excited for the Christmas Missionary devotional.  I have been praying lately that it is a successful tool in missionary work!  The ones we did in the Utah Ogden mission were very successful!  I do not sing well, but I love the power of music and the chance to sing in such a great cause is inspiring to me.  I am very excited and consider myself very blessed to take part in this great devotional!
We had a practice for the devotional today, and it was so awesome.  We went through the nit- picky parts and really learned the songs.  Like I have said, we are under the direction of 2 Mormon Tabernacle choir ex-members.  They are incredible.  

I actually was talking to one of them, Hermana Sullivan.  I was telling her about how excited I am for the choir, and how I really really REALLY want it to go well!  I am praying daily that people come and that God can make me sing like an angel for just a few hours!  I am trying really hard to memorize the songs and follow the instruction we are given, but I don´t always know how to sing better and they use a lot of technical terms I do not know.

I was telling her that I was nervous I was not going to do so well. She told me that what made a program successful is a lot more than what we sing.  She said if I look happy and confident, then I will be okay.  And nobody will hear my mistakes.  It really made me feel better. 

Now i just hope people come.  Please pray for us this week that we can invite and commit people to come!  The concert is on the 16th!

We are planning a fireside for our ward to get them pumped for missionary work.  We have a good plan, and I hope it is well carried out and that it is well recieved.  I think we are doing it at the end of the month.  It is supposed to be a kick off to the New Year.  I will let you know how it goes!

Our plan is to watch Elder Holland’s conference talk from a while ago (The first great commandment?)  It´s the one where he talks about Peter and how he just went back to fishing and Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him.  Then we are going to share personal experiences of how we have seen the blessings of members in missionary work.  We are going to have a member who served talk about her mission.  We are going to have a recent convert share an experience.  And then we are going to invite the ward to ACT!  We want each person to participate in the work.  We want each person to find someone ready for the Gospel.  If everyone works on it over the year (a long time, no?) We can DOUBLE the size of the ward!  Thats the plan anyway!

I have been studying Alma lately and I love learning about Aaron and Ammon.  They were such powerful missionaries!  I read Alma 26 today and it was cool for me because I recognized that I understand the joy Ammon is talking about.  I too have felt it.  To teach people and watch them progress and enter the waters of baptism has brought such a joy to my life.
At the very end of verse 16 I really like how Ammon says he cannot express even the smallest part of what he feels.  I was reading that this morning and I understood how he feels.  Sometimes I cannot explain the joy I feel at being a missionary.  It cannot always be explained, I think sometimes it simply has to be felt. Oh, how I wish everyone could feel it!
Con amor,
Hermana Olsen