Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We're Not in Kansas Anymore-March 17th

 HAPPY HAPPY St. PATTY'S DAY! Today we had quite the awakening. I woke up randomly and about 30 seconds later, there was a little rumble and then our whole room started shaking/swaying! At first I thought my stomach was growling hard core but we actually survived our first 4.7 earthquake!!!! Super exciting. We heard from President Hall this morning that there was one in Santa Clarita last night as well that was a 3 something and then the one this morning.

We are safe and well looked after! We were kinda dumb and just stayed laying in our beds (oops...lesson learned!) and only 2 minutes later, Bishop Patton was calling us to make sure we were okay and members from the ward started texting us as well. I LOVE THIS WARD! They are such great people. A couple of them where definitely teasing us "out of staters" but it was pretty funny. Needless to say, we are definitely going to take our earthquake preparedness stuff from President Hall seriously and get on that today....
Don't let that other picture fool you... Mornings are DOABLE and better but this is still how I feel most mornings haha

Helaman 5:27 "And behold, when they had said these words, the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the (apartment) did shake as if they were about to tumble to the earth; but behold, they did not fall. And behold they that were in the (apartment) were Nephites...missionaries of the Lord."

This week was amazing! Satan was definitely hating life.. One girl we met with, prayed for her very first time. She started off laughing a little bit and told us she felt really dumb but that she'd give it a try. When she finished we asked how she felt. She'd kept her head down but she looked up and had tears running down her face. She said "Guys I'm CRYING right now! Is that normal?" The Spirit was crazy strong! We sat in silence for a couple of minutes and really just let the spirit testify of the love she had just prayed to feel. I know that Heavenly Father has been waiting a loooong time to hear that prayer and it was such a relief to see those promised blessings of peace and happiness come so quickly in a time of need.

One of the guys we met with, we at one point asked him what it meant to him to repent. He opened up a ton and told us about what a rough up bringing he had. It was heart breaking! It made me super grateful for all of the blessings I have received. He went on though on his own and talked about how much he learned from even the very worst experiences and how it all played in to him becoming Christian after he graduated."Even though I had a good reason to do what I was doing, I knew that it wasn't okay." Plan of Salvation is something I have gained a HUGE testimony of on my mission. Heavenly Father is always so aware of everything we are going through but I know that it is truly a plan of happiness. He is going to give us what we need (not always what we want) to make us into the best people and the things that will make us happiest in the end.

I love California! I love the craziness of San Fernando. I love falling asleep to city noise; honking and sirens and people above/below/next to/across from us. I love the food trucks. I love how many different cultures you can find in just one day. I love the weather. I even love the earthquakes ;) More than anything, I love these people! I love having the privilege to be a part of their lives for a minute and seeing the changes they experience. I love watching the Atonement become a part of somebody's life. I love hearing people pray for the first time. I love when they start to truly believe Heavenly Father loves them. And I know He does!

2 Nephi 5:27 "And it came to pass, that we lived after the manner of happiness." I am so happy! We are safe. And we had a good reminder this week that we are protected. I feel the power of the prayers people say for us every single day and am so grateful for them! Hope you have a fabulous week! LOVE YOU ALL!

With faith in every wobbling footstep,
Sister Olsen

We're Earthquake Survivors

First Sunburn of the Year

March 10 2014
HOLA from the land of sunshine and good times! Today we went hiking to the place we went last week but with the majority of the zone. I AM BURRRRNED! And I love it!

This week went by really fast! As they tend to do... We had Mission Leadership Council last Wednesday, exchanges twice and then Zone Training Meeting as well. It was crazy but really fun!

Zone Training Meeting we started off with having the Zone Leaders and us talk about our dreams/reasons for coming on a mission. Our zone needed a little heart softening ;) totally worked!! It went great and it was good to see/hear everyone thinking of their own dreams and goals and what they wanted out of this. A reminder for why we're really here.

I talked about finding the meaning of the Atonement for myself and wanting others to have a chance at that same peace and lasting happiness. Saturday night, we were out on Parthenia talking to people and met this guy named Michael who had that exact question. He told us he knows God exists because when he was shot (I LOVE PEOPLES STORIES OUT HERE!!! So cool!) God saved him and let him live. But he didn't understand how "using somebody else" could bring you peace or why Jesus couldn't survive the cross.

We talked with him for a while, showed him some scriptures and bore our testimonies. He totally felt the Spirit! You could see it on his face! He wouldn't give us his number or address but as he walked away, I had a comforting feeling. It's hard!!! It is SO hard to see people turn away from something that I KNOW will bless and help them in life.

The plan of salvation has taken on such a different meaning to me. As hard as it can be sometimes, I'm grateful we have agency; that we have that choice to walk away and find truths for ourselves. I know that He totally has in mind constantly and that everything we go through is for our better. Sometimes I REALLY REALLY wish I knew the why but that's okay that we don't. I think teaching the Zone was what I needed this week. If I didn't have my agency to walk away before, I wouldn't be having these experiences now. So that's okay when others do as well :) I guess....

I read in Alma this week the captain Moroni chapters. Kinda fun right before we did the hike with the flag this week. It was definitely cool to sit and think up there for just a minute today why I'm out here and why this Church means so much to me. Hope everyone has a GREAT week this week! Until next time...

With faith in every dusty footstep,
Sister Olsen

Exchanges this week and we ended up here...felt like Bubbs' Tijuana pictures for a second
Elder Smith...our district leader...is a visa waiter that has been here for ten months but tomorrow morning he finally leaves for Brazil.
The majority of "The Granada Hills Zone" missing about 12 people so we have a huge zone! Our Institute building has a Title of Liberty Flag so I asked Brother Barlow if we could borrow it for the hike. Pretty cool! If you look really really close to the right of us you can see downtown LA and more to the right of us you can even see clear out to Catalina Island on a really clear day.
Elder Nielson and Elder McCauley...LOVE THEM! PS That's Santa Clarita Valley in the background so it's a pretty bomb hike lookout wise.

Surrounded By Concourse of Angels

 March 3rd
Hola! Super short on time today, SORRY! We went hiking with Granada Hills Sisters this morning and then had a zone activity playing volleyball. My bad!
We had transfers on Tuesday where I got Sister Moore as a new companion! She's from Boise Idaho and was also trained by Sister Hoffmann.. It's been a fun week! We're gonna have a great time!

This week...little bit heartbreaking! Which I've heard over and over you'll have on your mission, but I hadn't fully experienced it yet. Not companion wise, that really has been great!!! But I was hit super hard with so many things this week and went through some really hard times with one of the people we were closely working with. Nothing a few hours with President last night couldn't fix :)

D&C 84:88... "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." I am so incredibly grateful for the comfort we can find in the Atonement. I know that He is not only aware of our trials, but there with us through each and every one of them! I know that I have felt His angels last night and today more than ever before these last 6 months. They truly can surround us and bear us up.

On a much happier note.. I got an incredibly tender mercy from the Lord in sacrament yesterday! Rebecca (who was baptized February 9th) was the very first person to go up and bear her testimony. She talked about how much she's changed and feeling the power of God's spirit in her life now. I was crying! She ended with "Well, I'll just leave it at that. Okay." And walked off and it was the most precious moment! And Holly King, who gets baptized April 6th went up! "I don't know if you have to be baptized to come up here..." Best sacrament meeting I've ever been in!

I know this work truly changes not only the people we teach, but US as well. I can't believe I've been gone six months! Time is FLYING by! I am so grateful for getting to be out here. I'm grateful for the strength and support I have felt. I have overcome things this last six months that I never thought I could! I've learned and prayed more in this time than I have my whole 23 years before. And I have gained such a broader perspective of where I want my life to go and who I want to be. I wouldn't trade these last six months for anything and can't wait to see what's in store for this next year!

With faith in every footstep,
Sister Olsen

Kiss them babies for me!

Right as we started this hike, we saw a "Rattlesnake warning" sign. GAH! So we were joking around about how we would haul back down the mountain if we saw one. And Sister Young has tiny legs so naturally she thought it made sense I carry her...
Not my prettiest picture...BUT HAPPY SIX MONTHS! I have a solid hole in my shoe. At this point I was soaking wet even with my umbrella. To the right of me you can see a river running down the street and then that huge puddle right behind me. CLEARLY the Lord answers prayers and fasts

I took Sister Moore to the top of Reseda so she could see our area. See that Valley behind us?! Welcome to our area.... #yeahitsalot #HUGE
"I'm on top of the world!" Pardon the garment peek... SO nice to finally go hiking again and see LA does have a little somethin' to offer that way ;)
Last Monday we got to take the new missionaries out. They're called to Korean work, going out with English Sisters....and we were in NOHO so ALLLLL Spanish speaking haha they were such good sports
Elder Hansen, Elder Kottcamp, Sister Kemp and I with our last Mt. Dew delivery! AWESOME Zone leaders! So glad I got to serve with them
Got to see all of "my Elders" at transfer meeting this week. Still can't believe 6 months has already gone by! Love these three!


February 24th
WHAT.A.WEEK! Oh my goodness this week flew by incredibly fast. I know I say that every week but this one even more than usual.

Tuesday we were on exchanges with Sister Rhoades (goes home tomorrow!) when we got a call from President Hall. Long story short: we had another Sister go home unexpectedly this week. Wednesday we needed to take her up to the office....and pick up our TRIO member! Luckily, come today, everyone is still laughing! It's been pretty good and pretty fun actually. But I'm gonna be honest...not sure how people do  a trio for the whole transfer!

Speaking of transfers, they are tomorrow. Sister Kemp and I are being split up. We have a Sister we're over who is now at the end of her mission so she'll be going home but they are in a bike area (Sister Rhoades from above). So we recruited a guy in our ward to drive his truck up to Santa Clarita so we can pack it full of luggage and fill our car with Sister Kemp, Sister Cottrell (my trio companion), Sister Rhoades and Sister McQueen... it's gonna make for a real fun morning! haha

Yesterday, BRYAN KELLY GOT BAPTIZED! Honestly it was one of the most spiritual moments of my mission so far! All week I just kept praying "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let us get to Sunday at 4 pm! PLEASE let us get to Sunday!" He has been so prepared but Satan has been working double time on him. But good will win in the end, good will ALWAYS win in the end ;) and it did!

We had him confirmed font side while all of Kirstys' family was already here and so her dad could do it. Most amazing blessing! After giving him the holy ghost he continued on for a bit and blessed him with incredible things. My personal favorite "Not in this circle but in your heart are those Sisters who have already blessed you so much. Keep this close. Stay in touch with them." ;) jk not my favorite but definitely precious...

Bryans' family has turned their backs on him since he started dating Kirsty. He was blessed that problems with his family would soon be over! Talked about the war and hardships he's seen and to be a peacemaker in life. Talked about going to the temple and the children that would now be born to him; the blessings they would receive from his choice. Then her dad got really emotional and talked about Zoe; Kirsty's niece who drown on Christmas day and Bryan found her.

He blessed Bryan to be at peace. That Zoe was there and wanted him to know, she knew he acted instinctively and did all that he could. She wanted him to know that Heavenly Father needed her back now and it was all according to His plan. He said "She is cheering for you and your decision in Heaven today."

I have never felt anything like that before. I know she was definitely with their family yesterday. I was excited to finally get to meet Zoes' parents. Lucas baptized him and stood in the circle and Monica and Kirsty were sitting right in front of us during it. I can't imagine going through something like that!!! Even with the knowledge we have. But it made me even more grateful for the plan of salvation. For seeing how faith in Christ, and putting him first, truly can pull you through anything we may go through in life! Monica and Lucas had so much peace and are still such happy people. I know that wouldn't be possible if they didn't have that!

This week was amazing. It was on the difficult end again but it was fun. Yesterday made every single hardship this last six months, worth it! I love Bryan and Kirsty so much and I'm so happy for what this means for their family now. I know this church is true and I know it changes our lives. More importantly, it BLESSES our lives! There's nothing Heavenly Father asks us to do that isn't for our benefit. No matter how hard it may be in the moment.

Love you all more than you know!
With faith in every grateful footstep,
Sister Olsen

When we first set his date he was joking and said "Do I have to get my hair wet?" So we told him we'd get him a special towel. Kirsty's sister is a primary president and they really do make them baptismal towels hahaha so she took care of it for us and added our names on there as well.


Sister McQueen came from Temple Square. They go to a proselyting mission for two transfers and they transfer a week ahead of us. So we were the pick up service because her companions don't have a car. This is how we stood outside the office waiting for her and President Hall
A girl in our ward somehow acquired a baby cottontail! Which she then brought to church hahaha and I got my first sun burn this week! Aaaaand the blonde is definitely workin it's way back
BASEBALL! Seriously we found a legit sand lot haha
I had to drive but Sister Kemp summed up how both of us felt by Wednesday night after picking up Sister McQueen and getting her settled, then driving all the way back to San Fernando, moving our apartment around, driving BACK to Santa Clarita to drop off a sister and pick up our trio and haul HER suitcases up our stairs. WHAT A DAY! PS...speaking of driving....prettty darn pumped I finally know the difference between the 5, the 14, the 405, the 101 and the 118. They are all major freeways in our area :)
"David and Goliath" haha Tina is seriously 4 foot 7!!!
Picking oranges and clearly I was way more pumped about it than I thought I was hahaha feelin' like SUCH a Californian!!!
Bryan lives in Van Nuys which is the most ghetto of our area haha (but we're safe mom!) and so one night he was telling us to be careful. We joked "it's fine! We're tough! We're Gs!" So now we have this joke with the four of us that we're Gs IN VAN NUYS!!! so we got ghetto bling for the pictures.
Bryan Kelly! LOVE HIM!