...to 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.
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
With faith in every sweaty footstep,