Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving the mission

The family in Leganes that I visited today!

 Next 3 pictures: Toledo
Hola Familia y amigos,

This week has been AMAZING.  One of the hardest working of my mission, but possibly the most successful.  We have found so many people to teach and had 5 new investigators this week! In gray is my letter to President.

We had an incredible week this week. We are finding people that I truly believe are prepared for this message. This has been one of the most productive weeks of my whole mission! But I feel like I am working harder than ever before. I am trying so hard to find and to teach, so that people can make the correct decision and understand the importance of baptism. We are talking about it more in our lessons and letting people know that we will be inviting them to be baptized, or we invite them to be baptized when they know it is true, without giving them a specific date. I hope this will help them progress, because they will understand better why we are here.

Things are going well with our two Muslim investigators.  They have both started reading the Book of Mormon. One almost came to church, but he was sick yesterday. We taught him how to pray though, and he said the last prayer in our second lesson with him. I think they both have great potential and I hope things continue to go well with them. Like I say every week, this is a work of MIRACLES!!

I love the mission so much. I really don´t want it to end. I know I will apply what I have learned after the mission, and that great things lie ahead, but I just don´t feel like anything can compare to the amazingness of being a full time representative of the Lord. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I wish it could last forever.

I know this church is true. I know that the Atonement is real. I think that is what I have come to understand most on my mission. The Atonement is more than just Christ suffering for our sins. Through Him and His sacrifice, we can change. We can become how He sees us. We have such amazing potential. As we live the Gospel and apply the Atonement to our lives, we can progress and keep trying. Because of the Atonement, we do not have to be perfect!

We also had 4 investigators at church.  We doubled our numbers. Our family comes without fail every sunday, but we have been working so hard to get some of our other investigators to church.  And we live really close to a few of them, so we offer to pick them up.  

On Saturday we had a lesson with one of our investigators, a lady from Columbia.  She has been meeting with missionaries on and off for 4 years and has read the Book of Mormon up to 3rd Nefi.  She hasn’t been to church in a really long time though.  But she came yesterday.  We picked her up and she came.  She knew a ton of people too!  

And the other hermanas were teaching this lady that actually lives in our ward but she goes to their ward with her cousin every sunday.  We started teaching her and are going to try and get her to come to our ward, but she is our investigator and she came to church, so we had 4.

Miracles are real!  The harder I work, the more I see. We have seen a lot of rejection this week, but if more rejection also brings more success, I will take it.  God has proven to me time after time that after the hardship comes the miracles.  It´s like a sunrise after a dark, cold night. Blessings are always around the corner of the trials.

We had a fireside yesterday.  I spoke, as well as 2 of our Elders, our ward Mission Leader, and President.  It was a great fireside, with really powerful talks.  We really wanted to inspire the members to participate in the missionary work.  I hope the 6 or 7 members that came enjoyed it.  

We tried SO hard to put it together and get the ward to announce it and all.  But not many people came.  It hurt, because of all the work I put into it, but I hope those that came were benifited.  Although most of them were our strong members who already help us.  On the bright side though, putting together a firside on the importance of missionary work really spoke to me and taught me even more about why this work is so important.  It wasn´t nearly the fireside we wanted, but it wasnt a wasted effort.

Some of the investigators we found this week:  We got a reference 2 or 3 weeks ago from the office.  We finally met with her on Saturday.  She is from Nicaragua and has a nephew on a mission.  She is super great and has a great spirit about her.  I am so excited to keep working with her.  She already had a Book of Mormon.

We found a really cool Dominican lady the day before her 25th birthday.  She said she never celebrated her birthday, and we asked if we could pass by and visit her on her birthday.  Her birthday was yesterday, and we passed by and shared the Book of Mormon with her.  She really seemed to enjoy it and we asked her if she would be baptized when she knew that these things were true.  She was a little hesitant, but said yes. 

Miracles are real.  I know that this church is true.  I know that this is the Lords work and that we can all take part in it!  There are people prepared for the missionaries to find and teach, but there are also people prepared for the members to find and fellowship.  We all have a role in finding.  Every member a missionary.  I invite you all this week to pray about someone you can share the gospel with!  There is someone out there waiting for you, God will help you find them and have the strength to talk to them!

Con amor, Hermana Olsen

Monday, January 20, 2014

A week of MIRACLES

Hola Familia y Amigos,

This week has been absolutely amazing.  It started with something I like to call "Last Transfer Blues" where I have been really stressed about making the most of my last transfer and worries about going home and such.  But I recieved a blessing, and have just been going forward with faith and being pleased with the hard work that I am doing.  I am taking it bit by bit and just trying to focus on the moment and relax.  I am not a perfect missionary.  But I am a hard working missionary who constantly tries to improve. 

Would you be surprized if I talk about miracles again?  I am seeing a theme in my mission! There are so many miracles.  First, we have started teaching a Muslim man.  We contacted him and had a lesson with him where we explained the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy and invited him to read it.  The next day he came to our English Class and brought a Muslim friend of his who has asked us for a Book of Mormon in French so we might start teaching another Muslim.  The first one we found told us that he started reading the Book of Mormon.  We are so excited to meet with him again and to meet with his friend.

The second miracle happened last night.  All of our plans fell through and we found ourselves with an hour or so left, and it was COLD.  I was praying for a miracle lesson.  We were contacting and not having much success.  Then I contacted a man from Peru.  After contacting him I realized he was in the middle of dialing a call.  It started to ring, and he hung up the call to listen to us!  

We started talking and we were on the sidewalk in the middle of people’s way so he found a more calm spot where we could talk.  He seemed so interested.  We started talking about the Book of Mormon and we had one with us, so we taught him the Book of Mormon, and set up another appointment with him.  He seem so intersted and so prepared for this message.  I hope to see great things with him!

Good mission story:  We had an intense lesson with this Evangelical lady who also believes a bit of what the Testigos believe.  We were trying to teach her the Book of Mormon but she couldn´t accept that there was more than the Bible.  She kept calling me niña (child) and also told me that we had to be careful because Satan was really good at deceiving people.  

As mad as that made me, I looked at her and calmly and lovingly bore testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I told her I knew it was true because I had prayed and asked God.  He gave me a feeling of peace that I could not deny.  I told her that Satan cannot make me feel peace!  I felt the Spirit testify to me that my testimony was true.  Although she would not be persuayed, I knew what I was saying was true, and it was a really powerful moment for me.

We went to Toledo today.  It was AMAZING.  So beautiful.  I cannot decide if I like it better than Segovia or not.  The Cathedral we saw was beautiful.  It had so many really cool views.  There was a lot to see too, but we didn´t have time.  We almost went to a torture museum.  That would have been fun.  Some of our group split off and went.  They said it was interesting.  I got a lot of really good pictures, but I forgot my camera cord again. oops.  Pictures coming next week for sure!

Toledo, is known for swords.  There are a lot of tourist shops selling swords.  We were in one of the shops and we had heard there was a Captain Moroni sword.  We asked, and the 2 workers showed it to us.  It was pretty cool, and we asked them if they knew who Captain Moroni was.

One said that she didn´t really know but it had something to do with Religion.  Here we are 6 of us with our chapas (name tags) and I was thinking, yes, he has something to do with religion.  The other lady had the BEST answer though.  She said that he was a great captain and he started a little school for cadets and taught them how to be soldiers and he made his own sword and because of all this he was a Captain.  It was soooo funny.  You had to be there, but the way she said it she sounded so knowledgable.  Her tone was saying, Obviously I know who he was.  SO FUNNY!

I have done a lot better this week at talking to people.  And we had a really cool experience.  We were sitting waiting for the bus, and I asked a lady if she wanted to sit.  She said no, gracias, and we started talking.  She was from Spain and thought it really cool that we were from the U.S.  She asked us if we liked Spain and talked a bit about what we had seen and all.  We only got to talk just a bit about us as missionaries before her bus came, but I still talked to someone and if she ever sees missionaries again, hopefully she will remember us and have a good impression of us!

I know this church is true.  I know it with all my heart.  There is no doubt in my mind.   It has changed me and made me better than I ever could have become on my own.  I know the atonement is real, I have seen it work in my life and the lives of others.  I love this Gospel and the Plan Heavenly Father has for all of us.

Con amor,
Hermana Olsen

Monday, January 13, 2014

A good week!

A cute little mexican girl.
Christmas sleep over.
A pair of shoes I DESTROYED!  I tossed them a few weeks ago.
Me and Elder Cloward.  He was my zone leader for the past 5 transfers.  He is now in Cuenca, south of Madrid.
Me, Hermana Palomino, Elder Williams, and Elder Lloyd.  Elder Williams got transferred to Leganés, my first area.

Below:  The Real Madrid Game!
The sandwiches were us being super spanish.  All the other people were doing it. haaha.
This one was just for kicks and giggles.  After all, I was still a missionary!
My nativity that I bought

P-day today

Hola Familia y amigos,

We have had a wonderful week here in Barrio 1.  Dare I say we saw miracles?  Because we sure did!  I talk about miracles every week, but I am noticing more and more that as I look for them and work hard, they are so easy to see.

We taught a lot of lessons this week.  And we continue to find so we hope to start teaching more and more. We still are not teaching a ton of people, but we have some people that are really solid.  We have been struggling lately to teach second lessons, but we have started having more of those and even third lessons with a set appointment for a fourth.

We taught Andre the restoration.  Everything was going really well and my companion turns to me and asks if I will say the first vision.  I started to say it, slowly and powerfully.  I got through the first little bit, and could NOT remember the rest.  That hasn´t happened to me since the MTC.  It was super weird but my companion just swept in and said it.  I felt bad, but I was blessed with understanding that I don´t need to be perfect.  The lesson was still really good and I was able to bear powerful testimony at the end.  

We have been working a lot with our Relief Society president to find less-actives.  I don´t know if this is a problem in the U.S. but it is a HUGE problem here.  People move or go less active and nobody knows who they are or gets their records changed.  We have been doing this for the past 2 transfers and most of the people have moved 8+ years ago.  We found one this week that had died 5 years ago.  That was an awkward conversation with the deceased lady’s husband.  Oh mission life!  So we have been helping her clean up the ward list, at least in Relief Society.

We tried really hard to get our investigators to church this week.  That is something I have struggled with my whole mission.  Sunday morning I was calling our investigators and reminding them about church.  None of them were able to come, and that made me sad, but I was happy because I really tried to get them.  And we will try again next week.  I feel like some of them are so close to coming.

Church was good though, our recent convert, Dantel, blessed the sacrament.  He is 27, but in many many ways me and Hna. Palomino feel like he is our son.  It is super funny.  We joke about how we have to find him a wife.  Sometimes when we go contacting we tell ourselves that we are looking for a girl that could join the church and make a good wife for him. hahaa.

We went to a birthday party this week. Sebastian Amulek (I don´t know his last name...) turned 1.  It was the biggest birthday party I have ever seen.  presents and food, and balloons.  A huge poster of the baby’s face.  It was intense.  They even hired a clown. The birthday boy spent most of the party sleeping.  I guess it is very much part of the Latin culture though to celebrate the first birthday.

I have been asked what weird things I have eaten on the mission, and I´ve never known what to answer, but this week I figured it out.  Last night, we taught our family, The Bolivars, and they always feed us after.  Last night, they fed us cow liver.  And I was thinking about that and I remembered that New Years Eve when we had that one comida, we ate a soup with a chickens foot in it.  Not bad stuff.  I didn´t like either, but it was not bad.

Today, we went to Alcobendas.  2 of my favorite hermanas are serving there.  Hermana Hansen (I hadn´t seen her in 4ish months) my norwegian companion and Hermana Aagard, an amazing hermana that I just really love a lot.  We just went shoping with them and the mission Presidents wife came, because they serve where she lives basically.  It was super fun.

I´m working really hard to be a better missionary.  I want to end stronger than I have  ever been.  If I have learned one principle of the Gospel it is perseverance.  It is so important to keep going.  Every day I try to be my best and improve on what I did the day before.  I am not perfect, but I try and I remember that I can have another go tomorrow!

I know this Gospel is true.  I say it every week, but I mean it more and more every time I say it.  My testimony has been strengthened so much over the past 17 months.  I know these things are true.  I know it with all my heart.  I know it more than I ever have.  It is incredible to me.  And it gives me so much joy.  And I can share it with others!  The mission really has been the best time of my life.  It doesn´t compare to anything else I have ever done.

Con Amor,
Hermana Olsen