Monday, October 21, 2013

Buckle Your Seatbelts......October 21st

 Oh boy!! Transfer meeting is tomorrow....and we will be there! We got called Saturday night that Sister Hoffmann is being transferred out of the YSA Ward. I really am going to miss her! We've had an interesting 6 weeks but overall we've had a lot of fun and seen a lot of cool things. I have learned a LOT to say the very least!

I guess I should have been more specific in my prayers last week that I was talking about because... I AM GOING TO BE TRAINING!!!! The assistants called Saturday (before the zone leaders) and said "Sister Olsen are you willing to train a new missionary?" I sat there shocked for a couple of seconds. I wanted to say "You know I'M a new missionary right?!" But all that managed to come out was "Yeah."

Saturday night was fairly nerve wracking. Go figure... I started questioning how much I really knew the area, the people, everything! I've only been out for one transfer!! Yesterday I felt much better about it. After ward council Bishop Rock came up to me and gave me a handshake with both of his hands and told me how grateful he is that I'll be staying. He said he loves how hard we've been working and the way the energy and enthusiasm in the ward has come up this last month. He said he's excited I can keep building on that. I wanted to hug the man!!!! I sat in Sacrament going over names in my head and trying to picture where they live and "where they're at in life" and I got this calm(or as calm as I could be) that things are gonna work out.

Me being on a mission in general is already a miracle! The Lord has blessed me beyond belief in these six weeks and helped me in ways I never imagined. I know he'll continue to do that. "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies." Honestly, I'm a tiny bit terrified! I'll be driving again now too! But I sat down last night and thought about exactly the type of missionary I want to be, what I wanted to learn these last six weeks and what I want to help Sister Unknown learn/feel her first weeks out here. So it's scary and nerve wracking and I have no idea how we're gonna survive but I'm excited!! If nothing else, think of the cool stories that will be coming our way ;)

This work is amazing! It's crazy and I don't understand how it works but every single night I look back and still am SO thankful for being able to be out here! I'm thankful the Lord trusts me to be out here and to be helping the people of California and even more for his confidence in thinking I can help "shape" this new missionary coming out tomorrow.

There's a guy out here named Jason Beal who is a recent convert that we've been meeting with. He had us over for pizza Saturday night and out of nowhere, he asked a super personal question. I was definitely taken back for a second. My first thought was "Uhh how can I go around this?" But I had the strong feeling I needed to be open and tell him a certain painful story. After, he said he feels like he relates me to very well and that we're pretty similar. He opened up a TON right then on stuff he was struggling with and where he's at right now. We talked for a long time about how the Lord is always with us and helping us in life, even if we don't feel like we can see it at the time. I was grateful I followed the prompting.

Driving home that night, I imagined the Lord being like "come on Sister Olsen! DUH!" I know that we're called to our specific missions for a specific reason and that all of these "personal" "painful" experiences are rough to talk about BUT THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE!

Elder Kopiske challenged us to think about our dreams and goals for our missions. Why are we REALLY here and what do we want to accomplish? My most prominent reason in being here is wanting to help at least one person to learn about the Atonement, USE IT, and make peace with stuff they never imagined they could make peace with. But I can only do that by not being dumb and opening up about my own experiences. So it was definitely a good reminder for me.

Life out here in California is goooood! When I think about getting a brand new missionary tomorrow I think of the first week in the MTC. Everybody tells you "just make it to Sunday! If you can make it to Sunday you're good!" So when I go pick up Sister Unknown tomorrow, we're just gonna make it to Sunday. After that we're good :)

With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

This guy Dirk keeps asking if he can take us shooting! Which we aren't allowed to do. But he still had guns out the other day when we went over. I told him "My family will think this is a really good idea!" haha Look out Cali!

Goooooooooin' to the Temple-Oct 17th

 HELLO! So today ended up being my preparation day and Monday we did regular work. I just got back from LA! Turns out we do indeed get to go to the temple the month of our birthdays if a member goes. Sunday night, a member text us saying she wanted to go. YAY! To be honest I had partially forgotten about that so I'm glad she said something or else I may have missed it...

Even better, is we are allowed to go down to the grounds/visitor center once a transfer if we have an investigator who wants to go. So last night I was also in LA :) :) It was awesome!! Last night made me so excited to be getting to turn around and come back this morning. We have a bunch of missionaries going home this transfer and today was also their "departing" temple trip with President Hall. Soooo it was a session full of missionaries! Very cool!

When we were in the Celestial Room after, I remebered Elder Geary talking in the MTC. He told us about how he wanted to be a Marine to stand with the very best. He said only after entering the MTC did he realize THAT'S where the very best are! Sitting in the Celestial Room I just started crying! (I do a lot of that as a missionary haha) It was cool to watch alllll of these Elders hugging each other (we were literally the only sisters in there) and so close to going home. Watching them and being in that room was being WITH the best, IN the best! It was pretttty neat.

NOT so neat? I had to rent one of those envelopes for the session right? Yeah they still have the old school veils. Which a. I couldn't figure out b. was old and stretched out so the elastic on top was no good! How many sisters does it take to help Sister Olsen get her veil on? That would be five. FIVE! And of course today is the first thing we have been on time to in our companionship so we were in the very front!! So of the five, the representative "wife" and the ordinance worker were included. And I'm of course 2 feet taller than all of them as they're struggling trying to help me haha it took EVERYTHING I had in me not to bust out laughing cause we were seriously standing there for a good six or seven minutes after everybody else had sat down. It was ridiculous! That's a moment I'll re-play in heaven....

I'll email again on Monday. Transfers are Tuesday! That is NUTS! I can't believe I have already been here for my whole first transfer!!! GAHHH! I started laughing when I was praying the other night....Things with the companion have been better but it is ROUGH! I know it's not up to me but I started laughing cause I realized I didn't know if I should keep praying for things to get better cause then the Lord will keep us together another transfer! Or be grateful for salvaging this last week, be grateful and let it go.

Really though, things have been SO much better! The other night she was in my journal. I was ready to totally blow! What is it with people reading my freakin journal?! I prayed that night like I have never prayed before!!! And amazingly enough I woke up the next morning and had not total peace with her, but a good 85%! Elder Kopiske of the seventy was in our mission last week!! AMAAZING! He talked allll about the Atonement. He said "On a mission you can pray for a divorce, or a transfer. But in real life you can not!" The Lord incredibly humbled me though! I was determined not to pray for patience my whole mission....yeah that didn't happen. He broke me down last week haha

Until Monday, LOVE YOU ALLLLL!
With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

October 17th-Life As of Late

Guess who finally got email time????

This little gem made me miss my Kezy girl! Even down to the red boots :(

Heart attacking like a month ago. It's become kinda cool again as a missionary haha

I GOT TO GO ON EXCHANGES WITH SISTER WALGREN! It was glorious! I love this girl
BIGGEST apple pie of my life!!! I was so happy

"California girls they're un-avoidable! Reallll long skirts and nametags on top"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 7th- God is Gooooooood!!


I don't have much time today but conference weekend was awesome! We were still able to watch it live, just at 9am and 1pm instead of the 10 and 2. Our Bishop has been saying for weeks that we should try to get something put together where we could get everybody to go to watch it and nothing had happened. At the start of the week I really felt like we needed to.

Sooo we went and interrupted the very end of Bishopric Meeting and presented a little plan to them. Bishop loved it and told us to run with it. So we had "General Conference Kickoff" Saturday before the morning session. IT WAS AWESOME! All it was really was a big breakfast. But we had the Bishop get a few things from activities budget and then assigned a few people to bring other things. There's an investigator named Jennifer that we have been working with who is SO close to getting baptized :) SHE CAME! Aaaand she came again Sunday morning! It was a lot of extra work to try and get a hold of everybody else on top of our usual stuff we had going but it was great! We had about 30 people there while out here is about 95% of the ward. AWESOME!

Our Bishop is Bishop Rock. He has a really interesting story. At the start of the year, he was out running one morning and he got hit by a truck going 65. He shattered his back and they didn't think he'd live through the weekend. This week, when we went over Saturday morning he had his back brace off!! He's doing so well and just got cleared to drive again also. So we're pretty excited for him :) Last Sunday they were talking about miracles and the councilor teared up and said "I know they happen. We see one sitting right in front of us every Sunday."

Josh Sage is possibly one of my favorite people I have met out here! I love this kid! He is 28 and hasn't had anything to do with the church since he was 16. We've been working with him a ton! He got into some really heavy drugs, got kicked out, lost allll of his stuff, was alchoholic and finally got into a bad car wreck in April that slowed him down a little bit. It's so crazy to see how much progress he's made just in the month I have been here!

We went and had a "literal fireside" with him this week. He has a fire pit in his backyard and had heard about roasted starbursts. So for our lesson, we took a member with so he can start meeting people from the ward and talked about the fire while we roasted starbursts and marshmallows. (NOT A WORD FROM YOU TAYLOR haha) It was cool though because when we were wrapping things up, I bore my testimony about knowing people can change and he asked if I really believed that. If I really believed that no MATTER what we'd done, we could still come back.

It took me off guard for a second. Like.."Uh, do I?" I know for a fact it's true! And I love it! The Atonement is SO real for anything in our lives. I thought about that summer when I got my mission call cancelled and what a rough place I was in (to say the least...). There was one point in my life where I didn't even feel sad or down anymore, I just felt empty!! And that was actually much worse! And I compared that to where I am now. I have never been happier in my life!!

I told him I know it's true. I think Satan has us flatter ourselves a lot. He tells us we're too far gone and that we've done too much. He tries to get us to think that there is just NO WAY that the Lord could love us or that we can feel good inside again. But when we actually turn to Heavenly Father I picture him kinda leaning back like "That's all you've got?! I've dealt with this over and over again. Give it all to me! I've handled much worse before." And I love that! I love that we can not only overcome our own short comings but find peace to deal with the consequences of OTHERS shortcomings that have influenced us in a negative way.

Josh is awesome! I totally picture him as a Bishop down the road haha He text us the next day that he started reading scriptures with his dad :) :) :) And he told his dad he loved him for the first time in over 10 years. This "little" miracles are amazing and make all of the long days incredibly worth it.

I still pinch myself that I'm on a mission ya know?! Hearing General Authorities pray for  the prophet, mission presidents and MISSIONARIES gave me chills every time! Like holy crap that's ME! Somebody else pointed out that people all over the world who don't even know us are praying for us every night. It's powerful! And you totally feel it. I feel it in how safe we feel, how protected we feel, being guiding to go visit somebody randomly...all of it! I love this.

A year ago, I never ever ever thought I would be on a mission! I'd started thinking about it some but it still just didn't seem real. And I NEVER thought the things that would make me happiest would be things like someone telling me they read their scriptures. Or hearing somebody say a prayer for their first time. Pretty crazy stuff but I'm loving every minute of it!

This week was LONG but ended great :) We spent two days over at the Mission Home with President Hall (kill me!) so you'd think it would have gone faster but it was awful. It was fun to get to know Sister Hall and their youngest son a little better while Sister Hoffmann was meeting with him but just sitting kills me. Hopefully we just never have to do that again.

I've been super frustrated the majority of days with not feeling like I'm getting the training experience I wanted. I had exchanges with Sister Walgren this week and poured everything out to her! Which is how we came to be at President's house... While Sister Hoffmann was still gone though, I felt like it was a good time to get a blessing. Our zone leaders came over and I felt a million times better! It was a relief and a HUGE comfort.

I know I'm learning a lot of important things that I need to learn for whatever reason! If nothing else, I've learned I can indeed live with somebody who drives me crazy 24/7 and not kill them (or me) so marriage just may be possible after all ;)

Until next week :) LOVE YOU ALL!!
With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Missionary Scene

Hey mom!

We make our lunch almost everyday but members have been GREAT about feeding us! We sent a sign up around yesterday for October and we have dinner every night but like 4 of them. Which is especially awesome considering we're in the YSA ward. I seriously love these people! They are great!!! We have a car since we cover the whole valley but if I get switched the odds are good I'll need to buy a bike cause they have very few cars in this mission. But for now, driving.

My companion from the MTC went home this week, she emailed me today and said she needed to talk to somebody who could kinda understand what she was going through. It broke my heart!!! I feel so bad for her but I'm glad she opened up to me and felt like she could. Those were some of the darkest days of my life for sure when my first call got cancelled but I'm proud of her for owning up to it!!! And I'm glad that as miserable and awful as that time was for me, I can help her with it a little bit now.

Tell Grandma I'm thinking about her and love her. That's too bad she's having such a rough year. Tell her to read D&C 123:7 . Remind her things could be worse haha ;)

I will read that Proverbs scripture tonight when I get home. Thank ya :) I'm proud of your new goal to talk to somebody every week!! Remember that the Lord constantly blesses us for whatever efforts we're willing to make. Speaking of you having 2 missionaries out, want to hear a cool thought? It was my devotional in the MTC but I keep forgetting to write home about it.

Read Jacob 5 again. All through out the chapter he says things like "the vineyard is not ready, we need more time" essentially. Until verse 61 and 62. Then He says "we're out of time! I need more servants." I still get chills reading that!!! The devotional speaker said "President Monson knows we're in the very last days. He knows we can't ask for more time, so he asked for more servants!" It's so cool to re-read it with that in mind. And we're teaching our ward now that THEY (like you) are a part of the more servants! It includes the members and not just the full time missionaries.

I teared up watching the choir sing. I seriously can not believe I have the opportunitiy to be out here! It's interesting how it's something I fought SO hard to avoid and to not to, to never fighting so hard FOR something in my life. I have felt the Lord with me 100% of the last month and know I couldn't do it without Him. Thanks for supporting me on this as you always have with everything else. It means more than you know. Until next you!

Sister Olsen

One Month!!! (Sept 30th)

These are guns we found while cleaning Kristy's house on Saturday. Officially and exactly one month as the Army of Helaman! WOOHOO!

What a week!! It has been nuts. I don't have much time today. I was really sick this morning so we didn't get started with the day until about 11 and are playing catch up. Two of the fifty misisonaries I came out with, went home this week :( One of them I was my companion from the MTC, Sister Humpherys. I got to talk to her for a couple of minutes the night before she flew out and it was so sad. I got to see all the Elders I was in the MTC with on Saturday and as ridiculous as it sounds we totally celebrated being out a month. I love it out here! Time is flying by. But it has definitely been a challenge and really tough so it was exciting that we've made it through some of the worst parts. (I guess we'll see come holiday time haha....)

I'll send a better email next week but I love you all!

With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

Talking to Sister Humpherys on the phone right before she flew home drove me to drink some of the hard stuff...
This girl is named Chanelle Devour. She just left this week to move back to Utah to start her mission papers :) I LOVE this girl! She is super cute and she's 24 so we totally bonded over being the oldest in our missions haha
Meet Hunter! He seriously is a little human in a dog body haha

Miracles Happen September 23rd

I don't have much time today because we went hiking with members and have a zone activity...

But we have seen so so many miracles this week!! Even down to the little things. I love being able to watch the change that has happened in some of these people in only two weeks. I am still a very firm believer that sometimes people just need someone to believe in them to give them the power to change themselves.

Yesterday was a little bit of a draining day. Speaking of course didn't go according to plan and I once again changed my topic right before I went up to the podium. I told a tiny bit about how I had a mission call before and just bawled. GAH I HATE that! But I felt really strongly it's what I needed to say so oh well.

Remember that guy whose wife died from an aneurysm? Troy Norton. He wasn't at church yesterday and we text him to see how things were. Yesterday/today are the one year anniversary from her dieing :( We changed our plans some and went to see him last night.

I felt so dumb but I seriously could not stop crying!!! He lives with his mom now and all four of just sat there bawling haha I'm sure we looked a little ridiculous. He opened up and told us the whole story about how they were out of town visiting Troy's sister, he woke up around 11 and she was jolting around in the bed, all contorted and gasping for breath. He went into almost a tunnel vision and I felt so bad for him cause he looked like he was re-living it again. He said he jumped up and turned on the light and he saw her eyes couldn't fully open or close. He said he felt like he was living a scary movie with an exorcism.

He ran upstairs and grabbed his sister and brother in law. His sister said she'd call 911, turned around and passed out (hahaha would have been Taylor...) but his brother in law helped Troy carry her in the blanket out to the car and they drove the 2 streets over to U of U hospital. He said they worked on her there for a little while then they life flighted her to a top neuro surgeon but they couldn't do anything for her.

She was only 21 and it was like a crazy freak accident. His mom said "I'll never forget Trish calling me at midnight and saying 'Mom somethings wrong with Tyler! Like really really wrong." They started driving up to Utah right away but got there after the fact.

Troy is AMAZING! He is so put together and calm about the whole thing. I was shocked. I would have been crumbled in bed I'm pretty sure but he said he's glad they could harvest alllll of her other organs to help others. He's gotten letters from almost all of the recipients or their families telling him thanks but he can't read any of them yet. He had hardly even cried but then he got supppper emotional.

I guess her dad gave them a really hard time about getting married in the temple because he wouldn't be able to walk her down the aisle. He threw a huge fit. One week before, Troy and Tyler sat down and decided if it was really worth it. That's when he started crying and he said "I can't even say how happy I am that we went through with it. He still pretty much ruined our wedding day and made her cry but knowing that we're sealed is so worth it."

These people are so great! I love getting to know them and hearing all these things. Missionary work is work for sure but I love it! It's been a lot of fun too. Until next week...

With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

Look At This Photograph....

"Packing/weighing bags" our last night in MTC
aka: empty laundry mat
Just touched down in Burbank town!
MTC District: McCaulley, Barnett, Nielson, Lewis, Me, Humpherys, Redner

Found my head massager on the plane

Sister Bernson especially! Don't mind my 7 chins, I was laughing pretty hard. She said I was like her "MTC mom" and she started crying telling me bye. She was adorable.

The last day Brother Fegan taught us he brought me a Mt. Dew. This picture can't do justice how excited and happy I was!

These sisters are one of the districts I was over at the MTC. I LOVED them! They are all going to Tallahasee tomorrow.

First night in California. You know it's a good sign when...(companion in duck dynasty shirt and both like Jason Aldean)

Sept 16th--and NOW we are the Lord's missionaries!! bring CALIFORNIA his truth!

Greetings from the land of sunshine and happiness! It reached 114 degrees twice this week! We had just barely touched down in Burbank and were standing outside loading up our bags in the trucks when ROB SYNDER pulled up in a blank Mercedes car. He rolled down his window (he was in passenger) said "Hey welcome to California! Good luck!" Smiled, waved and drove away!! It was pretty cool!

I am indeed one of the FIFTY missionaries who came in last week! The biggest group this mission has ever had at once. I just keep having these constant moments of being so grateful to get to be a part of this work. On Tuesday we went back to the stake center to be assigned to our companions and we met with all 50 of us and President/Sister Hall first. When the meeting was over they asked us to follow them down the hall to the chapel.

We could hear music playing when we got a little bit closer and then right as we hit the doors you could tell there was singing too... We walked in to see about 100 other missionaries (everyone there for transfers) all standing and BELTING out "Called to Serve" while we all filed in to the front rows. It was easily one of the coolest moments of my mission so far!!! I couldn't stop smiling or crying.

President and Sister Hall seem great. They're really funny! My new and current companion is Sister Hoffman from the wonderful land of UTAH! She also is a blonde so we joke "we ain't no sleeping beauties...we're Cinderella sisters!" The best way to describe her? Julie Cornwell!! She is the NICEST and most genuine person I have ever met. She also is our designated driver so pray for us! We seriously have at least one close call everyday. I love her though! It's been such a good week.

The area we are over is the Santa Clarita YSA WARD! It covers the whole Santa Clarita valley so we are all over the place! Not at all what I wanted to do when I left so of course that's my first area! With the exception of me having to speak next Sunday, I already love it! (Speaking of which...if you could please send me that poem about the missionary's prayer that Kim read at our farewells that would be great!! No worries though if not) There is a guy in the Bishopric named Brother Smith and he is the Californian version of Stoney McCoard so naturally that's been pretty fun! This ward is tough. They ALL have such hard lives!!! Lots of abuse, split families, one guy was watching a movie with his wife last month and she started having a crazy migraine...died from a brain aneursym on the way to the hospital :( just really hard stuff! We had dinner with a family last night whose dad just got out of jail for beating their mom...

Which brings me to my lesson of the week.... there is serious power in wearing this badge! And just being a missionary in general!! I have always laughed at those stories about "the 3 big men walking with the sisters" stories but I kid you not we felt it the other night!! We were late getting home because of teaching so we were being obedient and I know we were protected because of it! It was about 9:30 and when we were walking up to the road to cross, there was a man with HUGE black rimmed glasses leaned up against the fence picking at his shoe. ??? As soon as we saw him I got a creepy feeling but I kid you not, I felt something in between me and my companion. Like there was literally somebody else walking with us. He looked up and was watching us walk up, trying to talk to us, and then it was the exact same time I felt that extra protection that he suddenly ducked his head and went back to his shoe.

Saturday night we were at Kristy's house. Ohhhh Kristy! She's another one my heart just goes out to. Last year she fell in love with a married man, moved to Washington for him where she got addicted to pot and went broke. All the while he was beating her. She ended up back in California and in the hospital the start of summer and Friday she told us she wants to go back to him. We spent three hours on Saturday cleaning just her kitchen and front room alone cause her conditions here are awful! PILES of dog hair, garbage, empty whiskey bottles...and she just sat and talked about how she feels value when these guys want her etc. I knew in that moment I was Sister Olsen and not Chantel Olsen cause Chantel Olsen would have let her have it. Sister Olsen just kept cleaning and was super calm, trying to understand why she felt like she needed these guys. (Thank you Pierie for giving me some training on this before I left ;) )

When we were getting close to curfew and realized there was no way we could finish the kitchen in time, we started to read scriptures with her. I just kept praying over and over again that I could see her as the Lord does and to try and love her like the Lord does. Suddenly I was saying things that came out of nowhere! I know the Spirit was testifying through me and saying things she needed to hear. I found myself talking about temple marriage and stuff that I don't even understand myself. So grateful for the Spirit! We literally can't do any of this without it.

I LOVE IT HERE! Not at all what I expected but story of my life as of August 28th. I have had countless tender mercies and blessings from the Lord. I am so so grateful I made it here. And a huge thank you to the whole family for helping me!!! All of the blessings, talks, reminders of what I want in life, drives...everything. We got blessings as a district the night before we left the MTC and it was amazing! Elder Nielson did mine and I know there's NO WAY he could have known things that he was saying. Part of mine talked bout what a blessing my family will be throughout my mission and I have already felt that immensely!

I'm glad to hear things are good and Tanner man made it safe! Don't worry that I of course started crying (here in the mall) hearing that Taylor gave him his nametag. That is AWESOME! I think back a lot to watching Taylor be set apart and how hard that was for him to take it off. He's always been such a good example! Good reminder to make every minute count out here cause it's so short and will fly by I'm sure.

With faith in every sweaty footstep,
Sister Olsen

Elder Barnett

In the card I sent today I talked about an Elder who reminds me of Jax...this is one of the 48 pictures he took on my camera while I was writing you the card jaja so I guess now I don't know if he reminds me more of Jaxon or Tanner.....