Monday, December 28, 2009


Hey everyone! Merry Christmas! This last week has been awesome! We didnt' have a white Christmas but it wasn't too hot either. When we woke up on Christmas Eve it was 35 degrees which seems super cold now. Most of the days here now are mid 50's which is pretty nice. We have also gotten some fairly heavy rains lately too!

I hope everyone had a fun Christmas! We had all three meals with members and went to an open house at the mission home. The highlight of the day, of course, was that I got to call and talk to my family! It was weird to be away from home for Christmas but it was a great experience at the same time.

I don't have a whole lot to share as far as teaching is concerned. We taught a pretty good amount for it being the week of Christmas, but most of our main investigators were out of town. Things are still going really well with the Contreras family. The two kids we are teaching are really smart, and they answer our questions better than most adults do. They are ready to be baptized, but the parents are just taking a little extra time trying to get their faith back. If they will come to church everything should work out!

Thanks for all of the nice gifts and cards you sent! Happy New Year!

Elder Olsen

Monday, December 21, 2009


Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you've all been good! This last week has been pretty good but there's not a whole lot to say about it. We got moved in to our new apartment and we've been doing a lot of finding this week since we haven't had much to work with. We had an awesome zone conference on Friday and then the branch Christmas party right after which was a lot of fun. There were TONS of people there, and best of all, I got to sit on Santa's lap!

The people we are working most closely with right now are the Contreras family. They have been inactive for a few years, and two of their children are unbaptized. They are an awesome family and have the desire to get their faith back. The two kids that we are working with are Evelyn (9) and Roberto (8). They are excited to learn and are reading the Book of Mormon together! The hold-up right now is the father, who got offended a few years back and is still a little bit hesitant. He's a great guy though and, with time, I'm confident they'll become fully active again. We had some powerful lessons with them earlier this week and they came to the Christmas party!

Also, everything is still looking good for Sandra to get baptized on the 26th! She has already become a good part of the branch and made a lot of friends. She was even serving food at the party on Friday! I'm really excited to see her be baptized.

I don't think there's much else to mention from this last week. This week should be a lot of fun! I miss you all and wish you a Merry Christmas!

Elder Olsen

Monday, December 14, 2009


Well, the call came last Monday night. I got transferred, BUT... only just the street. All of the rumors turned out to be true. Every single companionship in our district had a change. My new companion is Elder Jenne (from Washington) who I have been around a lot because he was in my district. I actually got transferred to the other half of the area I had with Elder Muniz (they split the area in half when Elder Cuevas came), but then they decided to give us the area of the hermanas who got moved out completely. Because of that, the apartment I just moved in to with Elder Jenne will no longer be my home. We're actually moving later today to where the sisters were living so that we can live in our area. It will be my third move in the last 1 1/2 weeks. All this has made for a very hectic last week or so, but after today things should finally settle down.

The new change is pretty exciting and I'm sure it will be a good growing experience. It is my first time in the field without a native speaker for my companion. Elder Jenne is pretty good at Spanish, but he's only been out a few months longer than me. I'm sure we'll do great and learn a lot! The other great thing about this transfer is that I'm in the same branch, which means I'll still be able to see Sandra get baptized! She is sooo ready and can't wait! The only hold-up is her new job, which requires her to work for the first half of church. Her date has been pushed to the 26th while she works to get it changed so that she can make it to sacrament meeting consistently. She's doing really well though!

Elder Cuevas is now training a native from Cuba named Elder Padron. He's lived in Kentucky for the last 11 years of his life though, so his Cuban/Kentucky accent is pretty funny. He's only been a member for 1 1/2 years and he's pretty crazy. We definitely get some good laughs out of him! As far as the new area is concerned, things are pretty tough. We don't have much to go on because one of the sisters had some health issues which really slowed them down. The other problem is, at the beginning of the next year the branch is moving to a different building that's way up north. When that happens, the majority of the people we teach will live a good 45 minutes away from the church. It's going to be a project but we're going to work hard and exercise a lot of faith.

I guess that's about all there is to say this week. I hope you are all getting well and enjoying the holiday season!

Elder Olsen

Monday, December 7, 2009

Transfer Week!

Well, I just pressed the 'send' key and my entire e-mail got deleted. So here I go again. It's transfer week again! It's hard to believe it's already here. This transfer has flown by. Rumor has it that all four companionships in our district are going to be switched, and that I'll be leaving. I'm kind of sad because I really wanted to see Sandra get baptized on the 19th, but I'm excited for new adventures as well.

Speaking of adventures, this week was full of them! We just got finished bowling as a district, and I found out that I'm pretty rusty. We all got dominated by one of the sisters in our district but it was a lot of fun anyway. We also went on exchanges three times this week which made things really crazy. I stayed in my area for two of them, and one of them was with an English Elder again. It turned out to be one of the most successful days in my mission so far though! I definitely had some help! My Spanish is improving slowly but surely.

As for our other adventures, we also:
-had zone training
-moved into a new apartment (which I'll likely be moving out of in a couple days)
-had my first encounter with Jehovah's Witnesses
-witnessed a hit and run accident
-and got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional (and see my mom!)

I also had a pretty neat experience yesterday. There is an awesome family in the branch here called the Alvarez family. They are some of the greatest people I have ever met, and they feed all six missionaries in the branch every Friday. Unfortunately, Hermano Alvarez lost his job at Target a few weeks after I got here, and they have been really struggling ever since. They have continued to feed us every week, even though they can't afford to heat their humble home, and are considering moving to find work. Yesterday at church, Hermano Alvarez came up to me and handed me a tie. I guess I had complimented him on his tie last week, so he just decided to give it to me. When someone compliments one of my ties, my first thought is usually "Alright! I picked a good one!" It's never to GIVE that person my tie. Earlier in the week, he had given me a bunch of materials to help me learn Spanish as well. I continue to be amazed at how giving these people are. My companion mentioned that "They never have too much but they always have enough." It's so true! It was something very small, but it taught me a great lesson about charity.

I love the people here! I love my mission! And I love all of you! Thanks so much for all of your support!

Elder Olsen

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pete Stevens

Hey everyone! I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Mine was great here in Tucson. The food was all amazing although it wasn't any different than usual. We got invited to eat with a family that's pretty americanized. We had a great time though! The only thing that was missing was family.

I have good news as far as teaching is concerned! Sandra is progressing incredibly well and is super excited to get baptized! She just got a job that had her work yesterday, but she's going to talk to her boss about getting Sundays off. That is really the only hold-up right now but I don't think it's going to be a problem. She loves to learn about the gospel and loves to read The Book of Mormon! We taught her the word of wisdom last night and we couldn't have asked for it to go any better. All she had to say at the end was "I guess I'll just switch to hot chocolate in the morning." It's awesome to see her enthusiasm and desire!

I'll wrap up with an experience we had last Monday night. Three or four weeks ago while we were visiting a member, a guy who lived in the trailer across rode up on his bike. He invited us to sit down and talk with him for awhile so we did. He introduced himself as Pete Stevens, and we came to find out that he lives alone and doesn't really talk to anybody. He wasn't really interested in our message, but he liked what we were doing and just wanted to talk to us. As we talked, we found out that he works as a dishwasher in a hospital. He told us about some amazing ribs that they made there and that he would get us some soon. Last Monday he saw us outside again and yelled to us to come in his house because he had gotten the ribs. We could tell immediately that he was really drunk and he was acting more crazy than usual. Everything he said was slurred and he shouted everything even though he was really close. After a few minutes of lectures from him on various subjects, he pulled out a knife. He then commanded us to "tell him a prayer." We began to pray but every time we began he cut us off because it wasn't the prayer he wanted to hear. This entire time he was gripping the knife at his side and had a very frightening look in his eyes. He then began to hit the knife against the table over and over, and then he got close and pointed it at us while he told us his prayer. We were pretty freaked out to say the least, and for a few minutes we thought he was getting ready to sacrifice us or something. Eventually we were able to satisfy him by bearing our testimonies, and he proceeded to use the knife to open the ribs. They turned out to be some of the best ribs I've ever had. It was a very unique night to say the least. We were in his house for over an hour, and during this experience we were instructed on the following subjects by Pete Stevens:

-How incredibly ripped he is
-The people he's beat up and his run-ins with the cops
-How to beat people up if they give us any "garbage" (to put it nicely)
-Doing 60 push-ups each day (we heard this at least 60 times)
-Staying away from "bad girls"
-Who would win in a fight between Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee (the answer being that they would both end up dying)

I've included a picture of us with Pete Stevens. He is holding his Bible and pointing to heaven. The knife is on the counter along with his 24 oz Budweiser.

I hope everything is well at home. Thanks for all of your support! I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Bowl!

Hey everyone! This last week has had a bit of everything. We've experienced more disappointments with certain people, but others are progressing very well. Last week some members of the branch brought a woman named Sandra and her son Jonathan (19) to church. We have started teaching them and some of the people that live with them as well. Sandra is very solid! She has already received some good answers to her prayers and is excited to be baptized on December 19th! She came to church yesterday as well and brought one of her friends (Felipe) who we taught yesterday as well. I have a feeling there will be some obstacles before December 19th but things are looking great so far!

Other than her, we've kind of been struggling to find lately. We're going to get out there and find a ton of people to teach this next week. Things with the others are kind of at a stand still. We still haven't been able to work out the situation between Ricardo and his girlfriend. Roberto is also not married and his wife lives in Mexico, so he goes to visit her every couple weeks. Both of them will be good to go if we get that stuff taken care of. The Garcia family and Cuen family are pretty much the same. I think we're going to have a great week ahead of us though!

On Friday, we had a Thanksgiving dinner activity as a branch. It was a HUGE success! We had to set up about five extra tables. Luckily, there was enough food. A bunch of Jonathan's friends showed up as well. We told them that we are going to start playing basketball every Tuesday night with whoever wants to come, which they all seemed very excited about.

In addition, we are beginning English classes tomorrow for whoever wants to come. The church has a program set up to meet three times a week for a half hour. We're going to start doing that on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. We're expecting a pretty decent turnout.

We also got a new ward mission leader yesterday! He just barely moved into the branch, and seems very organized and motivated to help us out. It will be a nice change from what we've had in the past. I've only seen the last one at church twice since I got here. We've only talked once. Everything is beginning to come together now so I know we're going to see some good results soon.

Today we had the awesome chance to have a Turkey Bowl! Our zone and another zone got together and played 11 on 11 football for about three hours. My zone ended up losing but it was a lot of fun anyway. We get to play another one with the branch on Thanksgiving morning too!

Well, I've got to get going. I hope you are all doing well! I appreciate the letters I've gotten. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Olsen

P.S. We haven't moved yet but we'll likely be moving when our contract expires at the end of this month.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Zone Conference

Well, I literally have about three minutes to write this week. Things have been crazy here and we're super busy. On Friday, Elder Kikuchi of the Seventy came to our zone conference. It went from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm! He was pretty intense, but he really inspired us and made us all want to be better missionaries. I had the opportunity of being his companion for a little role play that we did! It was awesome to work so closely with him.

Last week I mentioned that I would be going on exchanges in my area with an English Elder. It went as well as I could have asked for. I spoke to people in Spanish the entire day and even taught a few lessons by myself! It was tough but a good growing experience. I just found out that I'll be doing the same thing again tomorrow. I guess that's what you get for being the companion of the district leader (he has to go out with every member of the district at least once every transfer period).

I don't have much news as far the people we're teaching are concerned. We weren't able to see the Cuen family (Eleonor) this week because they've been doing a lot of re-modeling to their house. We found out that the Garcia family has started visiting with missionaries from some Christian church as well. It was a little bit frustrating to find out but I'm not too worried about it. If they're sincerely searching for the truth, which I believe they are, they'll eventually find it.

I hope I have time to get a good e-mail sent out next week. We're just super busy here so there's not much time. I love you all!

Elder Olsen

P.S. Please don't send anything else to my Ina address. Due to some disturbances with our neighbors, we'll likely be moving within the next few days. You can just continue to send letters to the mission office address. Thanks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hey everyone! I don't have much time again this week so I'd just like to share a neat experience that I had.

Earlier this week we decided to work in an area that doesn't get worked much because it's far away and primarily white. We began tracting and eventually found an awesome member who referred us to the few people in her neighborhood who speak Spanish. We knocked on one of the doors and began teaching a woman named Eleonor. As we taught, the spirit became stronger and stronger. When we asked her to read James 1:5, she broke down in tears and couldn't speak for at least a minute. She began to expound upon the struggles she was experiencing in her life at the time and there were a lot. We were able to comfort her and show her how the gospel could bless her life. It was probably the best lesson I've experienced to this point in my mission. A few days later we were able to teach the entire family (Eleonor, her husband Martin, and their children: Alfonso, Martin, Angie, and Jolene). It went really well and everyone was excited and happy. I've learned quickly not to get excited too soon, but regardless of what happens with this family, we are all better off for the experiences we had.

Anyway, that's about all I can share this week. We have a member of the Quorum of the Seventy coming to our zone conference this week so we're all pretty excited for that! Also, tomorrow we are going on exchanges. I'll be staying in my area and I'll be with an English speaking missionary. I have no idea how it's going to work out or what we're going to do all day but I guess I'll just hope for the best. I appreciate all of your love and support! Until next week...


Elder Olsen

Monday, November 2, 2009

New Companion!

Hey everybody! Well, the call came on Monday night. Elder Muniz got transferred to South Tucson and my new companion is Elder Cuevas. He came in from El Paso on Wednesday afternoon and we're off to a good start. The transfer has put a lot of pressure on me to learn the area well, but it's going fine so far. Elder Cuevas is awesome and I'm looking forward to working with him. He is originally from Chile, and he moved to Washington when he was 13. Aside from Elder Muniz, he is the only other native spanish speaker in the mission that has been out longer than me. I feel pretty lucky to have my first two companions be the only natives here. It's a really good learning opportunity.

This week has been pretty crazy to say the least. Not only did we have the transition of switching companions to go through, but our area got split in half. Two other elders came in to take it over but their apartment wasn't ready until Saturday. That meant that they stayed with us for the first three nights in our tiny apartment. It was crazy but we had a good time. It also meant that I spent a good portion of the week showing all three of them a brand new area that I'm not exactly comfortable with myself yet. It has gone about as well as I could ask for though.

Well, the Garcia family (Ivan and Anayeli) had interviews for their baptisms on Saturday. It all went really well but they still don't feel quite ready. We're going to continue to work with them and hopefully it happens in a few weeks.

Ricardo made it to church again yesterday and had his interview as well. Unfortunately, we found out that the woman that he's been calling his wife for the last two months isn't his wife yet. They live together and have a two-month-old baby but they're not actually married. Apparently, he's asked her several times but she's pretty non-committal. Hopefully we can get this situation worked out soon.

Things with everyone else are kind of at a stand still. I think things are going to start to pick up though. Elder Cuevas is a really good missionary and we're going to continue working hard. I really like the direction things are going.

I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Monday, October 26, 2009

Transfer Week

Hey everyone! This week is my first transfer week. We get calls tonight to let us know if either of us is getting moved so I'll let you know if something happens. If one of us gets transferred, we leave at 6 AM Wednesday morning. It's kind of nerve racking not knowing for sure where I'll be or who I'll be working with a day and a half from now. We also found out that our area is being split in half to accommodate the increase of Spanish missionaries coming in.

This week was kind of rough to be honest. Reynaldo has decided to go back to his old church, Ramiro is nowhere to be found, Martin didn't make it to church after promising us he'd be there for the fifth week in a row, and Melissa said she was just "too lazy to come" this week. It's frustrating but we're trying not to dwell on the bad.

The Garcia family and Ricardo came yesterday and it went really well. We saw the Garcia family every day this past week and it's been exciting to seem the progress. The Rios family seems to be doing well too. They weren't able to make it to church due to work, but I think they'll be there next week.

Speaking of the Rios family, they're the coolest people ever! They fed us on Saturday and it was the best meal I've had since arriving in Tucson. We had some incredible gorditas with a delicious rice drink called horchado. For dessert, we had a homemade cake that could have won a baking contest. Then they gave us more to take home. I guess Anabel bakes cakes as a hobby. They really are the most pleasant and kind people I have met here.

Well, I wish I had more interesting things to say. Besides our little frustrations, everything is still going well. My Spanish is gradually getting better and I'm starting to get the hang of this work. I hope everything is well back at home! I love you all and hope to here more from you soon!

Elder Olsen

P.S. Please send any letters to the mission home address (the River Rd. one) because I might not be living in the same apartment in a couple days. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back in Primary!

Hey everyone! I don't have much time so I'll probably be pretty brief this week, but things are still going great here!

On Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Jensen. He is an English speaking elder who came out the same week as me, and he works up in San Manuel with Elder Dunstan. This was an interesting experience, seeing as we had each only been out in the field four weeks. After our first appointment fell through we decided to do some tracting. First door..."WE DON'T WANT ANY!" SLAM!!! It was a pretty legitimate slam too. That was the first time that had happened to me because even if the Hispanic people don't want to hear our message, they are very polite about it. I was kind of glad that it finally happened though because it keeps you humble. I had come out expecting doors slammed in my face and I was surprised that it had taken a month. Elder Jensen and I had some great success that day though. We taught six lessons and got a baptismal commitment!

Things went fairly well throughout the week. We don't know exactly what's going on with Reynaldo, Martin, Ricardo, or Ramiro right now. None of them made it to church on Sunday for one reason or another. Melissa was sick so she couldn't make it either. This was a little bit frustrating, because there's always an excuse to miss. You just have to want it badly enough. But.....
On the bright side, we had 10 people at church! We had the Garcia family (Ivan, his wife Anayeli, and their two sons) and the Rios family (Carlos, Anabel, and their children--Alfredo, Maria, and Armando)! We also had a nonmember husband of one of the members there (Pancho). Our lessons with all of these people this past week have been awesome! We've seen both families nearly every day, and we're really excited. The Garcia family had to leave after sacrament meeting but the Rios's were able to stay. We were asked to teach the Gospel Principles class on Saturday night, but Elder Muniz ended up teaching by himself and I went to primary with Maria and Armando. It was awesome to be back in primary for the day singing those songs again! Sometimes I wish I could go back to those carefree days, but missionary work is awesome too!

Well everyone, there were many other interesting things that happened this week but I've got to go now. I hope you are all doing well! Thanks for your letters and support!

Elder Olsen

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hey everybody! I'm just sitting in the library at Pima Community College at the moment. I'm not quite sure where to start. Hmmm well it's now officially suit season. Apparently we have to wear suits here from October to April unless it's above 75 degrees which it has been so far. But we have to wear them after 5:00 regardless, and it can still be really hot after that time. It's fine though because so far the weather in October has been really nice and it's only going to keep cooling down.

On Tuesday we had district meeting at the top of "A" Mountain here in Tucson (University of Arizona). Luckily it's not anything like the hike to "Y" Mountain. You can drive all the way to the top here. It was a pretty cool experience and the view was awesome. I wish I had gotten pictures but I forgot my camera.

As far as the people we are teaching, we're having kind of a struggle right now. Things are at somewhat of a standstill because people won't keep their commitments and a bunch of unexpected roadblocks have come up:
Reynaldo was supposed to have his baptismal interview yesterday right after church. We called him a half hour before church and he was good to go but then he never showed up, never answered his phone, and wasn't home all day. We're thinking he might have gotten into some legal trouble but we're not sure. Hopefully we can get that situation worked out in time for his baptism next Saturday.
Ramiro has run into some problems with his family. He told us a few days ago that he wants to join but his entire family is against it (to the point where they hid his copy of The Book of Mormon). Hopefully their hearts can be softened eventually.
Melissa also had her baptismal interview scheduled for Sunday. She was ready for church but then her step dad never came home so she had to watch her little sister. Her mom still seems really against baptism. Every time we go over to her house her parents tell us that she isn't there even if she is.
We saw Martin several times this past week and things went very well. We found out that he had tried to come to conference last week but that he had gotten lost. He promised he'd be there this week. But then we went by on Saturday night and one of his neighbors told us that he was in New Mexico. He seems the most ready out of anybody but there's always something holding him back from coming to church.

Well, I guess those are our frustrations from this past week but we're trying to remain positive that things will work out with all of them. I'm sure ways will open up if they want it badly enough. We have also had some good moments from this past week though:
Ricardo returned from Mexico earlier this week and made it to church yesterday which we are really excited about. Things seem to be looking in the right direction for him and he lives right next door to two recent converts so that's helpful.
Earlier this week, we went through the area book and found a family that was formerly investigating the church (la familia Rios). We visited them and found that they had talked to missionaries many times before, but for one reason or another they had never joined. They are probably the most polite, kind, and friendly people I have met during my first month out. They seem very receptive to the things that we say. We have really high hopes for them.
We also found another guy named Ivan who we taught last night. The lesson was awesome, and he seems sincerely interested in our message. We are going back tonight to teach he and his wife about the plan of salvation.

Well, I don't really know what else to say. Missionary work is awesome and I love being out here! It's tough, especially with a language barrier, but it's definitely worth it. I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Week in Tucson

Well it's hard to believe it's already been another week. So much has happened this week but it's gone by pretty fast. Everything is still going really well here!

On Tuesday I went on another English-speaking exchange, this time with Elder Richins (one of the zone leaders). We spent the day in a small town called Marana. We taught some really good lessons and found a couple of really solid women to teach. I was amazed at how helpful the members in the ward were. Both of the women we found were referrals from members. Things went really well for us and I learned a lot.

Friday was my first zone conference. For convenience, the four zones in Tucson were combined. I met a lot of people and learned a lot about how to get members involved in missionary work. Assistance from members is so crucial to this work. Both my mission president and his wife are very powerful speakers and they really motivated me to go out and give my very best.

General Conference was awesome! It was a great chance to sit back and take in the words of prophets and apostles of God. We watched all of the sessions in a chapel with a few people who don't have cable. It all seemed to go really fast though, faster than I can ever remember it going. The coolest part, of course, was seeing my Mom singing with the choir. Several people we are teaching were lined up to come to a session. We picked up Ramiro (the ice cream man) and took him to a members' house. Reynaldo showed up late but he still made it to the Sunday afternoon session. He'll be baptized in 2-3 weeks if we can get some legal issues taken care of first. Martin didn't show which was a disappointment for us because we thought he'd be there for sure. But we'll keep working with him and others.

Sergio (father of the Gomez family) seems to be more and more satisfied with his current church. It's really too bad because his family would be an awesome addition to our branch. Hopefully he can come around eventually. Melissa (the 16-year-old) went to Mexico this week so we're not quite sure what's going on with her. That's something that's somewhat frustrating about serving so close to the border. Many people just come and go from Mexico unexpectedly. One day they'll be ready to come to church, and the next they'll be in Mexico. On the brighter side of things, we found a woman named Lourdes who seems very interested. We also talked to two other women with families named Margarita and Denise who sounded interested as well. There are definitely some frustrating things about this area but the field is still white and I love the people here.

The weather here was extremely hot through September. It was still over 100 degrees every day, but as soon as October 1st came around it was like it knew. On Friday when we walked out the door early in the morning for zone conference, it was only 59. It has actually rained the last few nights, although I haven't seen any of it. The last few days have been just about perfect. I heard we got some snow in Utah. Is that true?

Thank you so much for all of your letters! Getting mail out here is awesome! If you write though, please send things to the mission office address. Thanks again and I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tucson Week 2

Hey everybody! This week has gone pretty well for the most part. I'm still trying to get used to how everything works out here but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Last Monday night we got asked to go teach a Family Home Evening lesson to a family in a members home. We taught the Plan of Salvation and it seemed to go really well. They had some of the cutest kids but we didn't really get to play with them because we had other appointments to get to. After the lesson, we found out that the family lives outside of our area so we had to refer them to some other missionaries, but things are looking up for them.

On Tuesday we went on exchanges. I went English speaking for a day with Elder Dunstan who goes home in a month. We went about an hour north of my area to a place called San Manuel. We taught several really good lessons and it was nice to be able to communicate with people for a day. The last lesson of the day that we taught was to a Mexican man named Julian who doesn't speak English. There are no Spanish speaking missionaries in the area but they have been trying to teach him anyway (Elder Dunstan has picked up a bit of Spanish since coming out). Julian seemed really happy that I could sort of speak Spanish and we were able to successfully teach him the Word of Wisdom (without my companion)! It was an awesome experience even though my Spanish was pretty broken.

As far as the other people we are teaching, it's been kind of rough this week. Everybody seemed to be gone when we went to visit them, especially the last few days. We also ran into some problems with Melissa (a 16-year-old who we have been teaching). She finally decided that she wanted to be baptized, but now her mom is totally against it and won't let her. Hopefully we can talk to her mom at some point and help her understand. We also had a lot of people who said they would come to church this week but the only person who showed up was Reynaldo. He seems to be getting more and more solid though so we're excited about that.
We're also really excited about the Gomez family (Sergio and Melissa and their five children). They all live in a small trailer but they are very happy people. We met with them several times this week and had some great discussions. The children are incredibly well-behaved but lots of fun at the same time. They get really excited every time we show up. They weren't able to come to church because their car broke down, but we were able to jump-start it and hopefully we'll see them there next week.
We found about 10 more people to teach this week but we have only been able to see 1 of them more than once. He seems awesome though! His name is Ramiro and he owns an ice cream/Mexican candy truck! We bought a lot of stuff from him and I think we are his new favorite customers. We'll see how things work out with him.

I got a bike earlier this week so I guess I'm a really missionary now! As we were coming out of the bike shop, a member saw us and bought us a big pizza from the place next door which was awesome. We have been asked to bike 2-3 hours a day so cut back on miles for the cars. I actually don't mind riding them that much yet except that we get really hot and sweaty. At least there aren't really any hills here. My bike looks pretty nice right now but I'm going to trash it pretty soon so it doesn't get stolen. TONS of missionaries have had their bikes or parts of their bikes stolen so I'm not going to take any chances.

Well, that's about all I have time for this week. General Conference is coming up which I'm really excited for. I get to see my Mom! I hope everything's going well back at home!

Elder Olsen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tucson Week #1!

Hey everyone! I'm finally in Arizona now and it's awesome! Preparation day is now on Monday so I haven't been able to write for a week and a half. My last week at the MTC went really well but I can't really remember much of it now. Things just happen so fast that you can't dwell on the past for long.

Tuesday morning at 6 we took a shuttle to the airport. I was able to call my family there which was really cool. Soon after, we boarded and took our 1 hour and 20 minute flight straight to Tucson. There were 13 missionaries coming to this mission all together. When we landed, we met our Mission President and his wife and went to the mission home. We all spent the night there getting oriented and then woke up at 4 in the morning to go meet our new companions.

I was put on the Northwest Zone in Tucson. Apparently things are exploding in this zone right now, and I can see that after just a few days. Both of my companions from the MTC are in New Mexico now, and my trainer is Elder Muniz from Payson, UT. He has been out about 8 months and really knows what he's doing. He's a native speaker which is really helpful (he speaks English fluently as well). We get along very well and we have had a lot of success these past few days.

We are teaching about 20 investigators as of right now (some more solid than others) and we try to visit as many of them as we can every day. Several of them have solid baptismal dates for the near future! We taught 32 lessons this week and found 14 new people to teach (10 in the last 2 days)! We have done a lot of tracting and teaching in trailer parks so far and everyone is very receptive. I really love how friendly the Hispanic culture is. We haven't talked to anyone yet who hasn't been extremely polite. That's definitely helped my confidence as I try to speak with them. They are all very patient and try to help me.

I guess I'll talk a little bit about some of the main people we are teaching right now. The first is Martin. We met him on Wednesday and have talked to him every day since. He knows the Bible really well and has great faith. He has been out of a job for awhile now but he finally found one and he starts on the 28th. He has virtually nothing but he still finds every possible way give. He doesn't know where his next meal is coming from but he still offers us something every time we go over. The thing about Martin is that he's rarely home. We always have to track him down somewhere else because he's ALWAYS serving his neighbors. He spent at least 10 hours yesterday fixing someone's plumbing, and the day before that he was fixing someone's porch (all for free). Our lessons with him go really well.
We have also been teaching a man named Ricardo. He is married with a 20-day-old baby. He really seems sincere but his wife is not interested yet and he has to work on Sundays sometimes. I think we'll be able to work things out though if he wants it badly enough.
Melissa and Cynthia are cousins that we've been teaching. They both have received answers that this gospel is true but it seems like sometimes it's a little too much work for them. If they can come to church consistently I think things will work out.
Last night we were tracting and we found a family! Sergio and Melissa are the parents and they have five children! They seemed very interested and excited for us to come back. I can't wait to teach them again.

The members here are great! We are in the Valencia Branch with about 80 or so members. Most of them are somewhat poor, but we have a dinner appointment every single night. I have finally gotten a taste of some REAL Mexican food. We have had tamales a couple nights, chicken, tacos, and of course beans and rice. It's all really really tasty.

My first experience at church in Spanish went pretty well for the most part. I got called out of the congregation on the spot to introduce myself and bear my testimony but it went fine. I actually understood more of the talks and lessons than I thought I would. Our only investigator that made it to church was a man named Reynaldo. Apparently he had told the missionaries five weeks in a row that he would come and never did, so we were kind of moving on from him. Then yesterday, we randomly got a phone call from him asking what time church started and the next thing we knew he was in sacrament meeting.

Well, that's pretty much my first week in a nutshell. Our apartment is a dump but we don't have to spend much time there so it's ok. This work is awesome and I'm having a blast! Thanks so much for all of the support and encouragement you have given me! I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Grand banana total from the MTC: 159

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Eric is now in Tucson! We got to talk to him on the phone this past week which was wonderful. It sounds like he's doing great. Keep sending him letters! Here's his new address:

Elder Eric Olsen
3201 W Ina rd. #1060
Tucson, AZ 85741-2146

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MTC Week #8

Another week has come and gone in the MTC. In six days, I'll be in Arizona... or New Mexico or Texas! This is my last preparation day in the MTC but I think I might get to write on Monday too so we'll see. Anyway, not much has changed this week so I'll probably be pretty brief.

I had some more awesome experiences in the Referral Center this week but I won't go into detail. I've had really good success there and I love talking to people. There are four progressing investigators that I've been talking to. They are all such great people and it's been a great start to my mission. On Friday, we get to make/receive calls in Spanish! It's a little bit terrifying but I'm excited. And at this time next week I'll be talking to Hispanic people in person!

I got my flightplans last week. I will go straight from Salt Lake City to Tucson. My flight leaves at 9:55 and it will be less than two hours.

My new address for the rest of my mission will be:

Elder Eric Olsen
Arizona Tucson Mission
1840 E. River Rd. Ste. 102
Tucson, AZ 85718

Thanks for all your letters! I look forward to hearing more from you all soon!

Elder Olsen

Bananas eaten since entering the MTC: 146

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MTC Week #7

Hey everyone! This week has been crazy (if you can really say that about the MTC). The new responsibilities as zone leaders have kept my companionship pretty busy. On Wednesday, a new district with 12 elders came in. We did a lot of orientation that night and on Thursday as well. I think the new orientation system works really well and we have already become good friends with these new elders. Elder Henderson (the fourth member of our companionship who was delayed) finally got the ok to go. He left on Friday to serve in Atlanta, Georgia.

We got two new teachers this week. It's been crazy to switch around so much but it seems like they will both be good for these last two weeks. Their names are Hermano Sears and Hermano Barrios (a native from Chile). As far as Spanish goes, we're just going to do a lot of reviewing of what we need work on for these next two weeks. It's crazy that I'll be speaking to real people in a foreign language in two weeks! I'm really excited though!

I had some more really cool experiences in the Referral Center this week. On Thursday, I talked to a very religious guy named Keith for about 20 minutes. I won't go into too much detail, but he became very curious about the church. He knew a little bit of the history but wanted to know more, so I told him I'd call him back next week. His father has a copy of The Book of Mormon that he said he would look at.

Elder Burns and I also had a really good chat with a woman who wanted to know more about the Plan of Salvation. We chatted with her for about 45 minutes and she agreed to meet with the missionaries this week and read The Book of Mormon. We also have a return appointment to chat with her again this Thursday.

I also got the chance to talk to Thomas again yesterday. We talked for nearly an hour about various things. Eventually, our conversation went towards The Restoration. I gave him an overview of the first vision and how our church came to be. He seemed very interested and made a lot of commitments including to attend an LDS church either this Sunday or the next. I'm really excited for him.

I know I say a lot of the same things every week but that's kind of how it is here. Hopefully in two weeks I'll have some more unique experiences. Thanks again for all of your letters and support! I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Bananas eaten since entering the MTC: 131

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MTC Week #6

It's hard to believe another week has come and gone already. Less than three weeks left! This week has been pretty crazy with the new responsibilities as zone leaders. As of last Sunday, they have implemented a new program for the zone leaders to do all of the orientation for new missionaries rather than the Branch Presidency. We will spend a good portion of Wednesday and Thursday nights teaching now, so we have been preparing quite a bit this week.

My Spanish is getting a lot better! The more I speak it, the more I get it. We have been teaching lessons in Spanish this last week and I was surprised at how much I've improved. I think the hardest thing for me currently is trying to understand other people as they talk. Sometimes I even have a hard time understanding when other missionaries speak, and when I get out into the field they are going to speak much, much faster. So hopefully I can start to pick up on that a little more soon.

Well, the Swine Flu is back at the MTC. It hasn't become a huge problem yet but one of the elders in my zone was corantined. We have been struggling with health all around in the zone. One Elder had to have his appendix out in the middle of the night a few days before he was scheduled to leave for the field. In addition, they found out that he has a cancerous tumor. For the time being, he has been added to our companionship. We are now a foursome! He will be finding out this week whether he needs to go home for treatment or not.

On Sunday we were able attend the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication. It is always a neat experience to see another temple dedicated. It was inspirational and a nice break from the normal schedule.

Yesterday for the devotional Elder Richard G. Scott came. It was the first time an apostle has come since I've been here (because they take July off) and it was such a cool experience. He spoke on a variety of subjects including teaching by the spirit and following promptings of the Holy Ghost. It was very, very powerful. I wish I could go into more detail about it but I don't have time.

I'm finding that most of the stuff I'm learning here isn't new. The amazing thing about the gospel is that it's so simple. The things we learn about in primary are really all we need to reach our goal. The material hasn't changed at all, but my receptiveness and need for application of these principles has really increased. It's been amazing to learn something new out of a scripture I've ready hundreds of times, and then really strive to apply it to my life.

Thank you for your letters and words of support! I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Bananas eaten since entering the MTC: 113

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MTC Week #5

Hey everyone! It's been another very fast week at the MTC. The time here just flies. Somebody commented yesterday that we have less than four weeks until we hit the mission field. I'm very excited but I've still got a lot to learn before then.

I had another really cool experience in the Referral Center last Thursday. I called a man named Thomas from Pennsylvania to confirm the delivery of a DVD. We got talking and he really feels bad that he hasn't been more diligent in following Christ throughout his life. He just recently retired and is trying to find some direction in his life. He is really trying to strengthen his faith in Christ and has a goal to attend church every week (he attends various denominations). We ended up talking for about 20 minutes and I was able to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and he sounded very interested. I read him a few scriptures and promised to send him a copy. He promised he would read it when it arrived. It was amazing how much he just opened up to me even over the phone. He was really excited to talk to me again and learn more, to the point that he asked how he could get in contact with me. I will likely talk to him again tomorrow, so I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

We got a new teacher this week to replace Hermano Bennett. His name is Hermano Jackson and it seems like he will be very good as well. It seems like he wants to focus a lot more on Spanish than we have to this point which is something I definitely need. Speaking of Spanish, as of 6:00 tonight we are supposed to only speak Spanish the rest of the time here. Hopefully this will help a lot.

I forgot to mention last week that I am no longer the district leader. They try to switch it up every few weeks to give more people leadership training opportunities. I didn't get much of a break though, because last Sunday my companions and I were asked to be the new zone leaders. By next week we will be the oldest district in the zone! I'm excited for the new opportunity to serve, although I'll be even more busy now.

Anyway, that's all I can think of to mention this week. Things are still going very well overall. Thank you all for your support!

Elder Olsen

Bananas eaten since entering the MTC: 94

Saturday, August 15, 2009

MTC District

Here is a picture of Eric's MTC district. The two Elders next to him are his companions (he's in a threesome), Elder Burns and Elder Larose.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MTC Week #4

Wow! It's hard to believe that it's already been another week. Time is flying by now. I'm almost halfway through my time here! This last week has been pretty much normal. I'm really starting to get a feel for how everything works here and the rigorous schedule.

So we found out this week that both of our teachers aren't going to be able to stay for the whole time we are here. We have two of the best and most experienced teachers in the whole MTC. When people ask who our teachers are and we say Hermano Williams and Hermano Bennett, nobody can believe that we got both of them. They are both spectacular teachers and very inspiring. Hermano Bennett just got a job as a seminary teacher in Coleville, so his last day will be Saturday. And Hermano Williams has to go back to school in a week or so. It's pretty sad that they have to go but it's been a blessing to have been taught by them.

We had the opportunity to chat with people in the Referral Center this week. It's a really neat experience and I love doing it. I don't know what I like more between chatting and phone calls. I guess it's just nice to be doing real missionary work.

I guess I really don't have much to say this week. The Spanish is still coming slowly but surely. Starting next Wednesday, we're only supposed to speak Spanish. It will be a challenge but I'm sure it will be worth it. I'm really enjoying my time here. The Spirit is so strong and i feel inspired and motivated to be a bettter person every day. I've really grown so much in just four weeks.

Thank you all for your letters and support! If you e-mail me, please send it to My parents will print it off and send it to me so I have a hard copy. I don't have time to respond during this 30 minutes every week but I'll do my best through letters.

Elder Olsen

Bananas eaten since entering the MTC: 76

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

MTC Week #3

Well, I don't really know where to start this week. I really don't even remember what happened. It's all become such a blur and it's flying by! I'm definitely maturing a ton spiritually. I'm already such a different person than I was when I got here and it's only been three weeks! I'm loving every minute of it though.

The Spanish is starting to come a slowly but surely. We have spent a lot more class time this week studying it. We have learned about half of the verb tenses so far, but it's hard to use them in actual speech. I think I understand a good portion of the other concepts, so now it's just a matter of applying what I've learned. Tomorrow our distirict has a goal to not speak any English at all. It's going to be difficult but I think it will definitely help. This will be a permanant goal starting in week 5, so if I want to communicate with anyone I guess I'll have to learn!

For the devotional last night, Merril J. Bateman (Emertius Seventy and former president of BYU) came and spoke to us. He talked about the things we can do to have the Spirit with us at all times. He also said: "If you have the Spirit with you, you will always know what to do." I took great comfort in these simple words. I just need to do my part to have the Spirit with me.

We decided that yesterday was General Authority day, so we all parted our hair and wore ugly/plain/old-fashioned ties! It was really funny to have the entire zone (probably about 40 of us) do this. We also decided that every Saturday would be "Christmas Song Saturday," and we sing A LOT! It was awesome to sing Christmas hymns all day, but kind of weird because it's August.

I don't really have much else to say. I guess I can give a summary of what the typical schedule is in the MTC. Here's tomorrow's schedule:

6:30-7:00: Arise and prepare
7:00-8:15: Personal study
8:15-8:45: Breakfast
8:45-1:00: Class
1:00-1:45: Lunch
1:45-4:30: Class
4:30-4:40: Prepare for gym
4:40-5:30: Gym
5:30-6:00: Shower/get ready
6:00-6:45: Dinner
6:45-7:45: Companion study
7:45-9:00: Language study
9:00-9:30: Plan for the next day
9:30-10:30: Prepare for the next day
10:30: Lights out

Anyway, that's a little bit of what I do every day.

Random tidbit from this week: I have eaten a banana at every meal here except two so far (because they were out). That's a total of 57 bananas to this point, and I've only be here three weeks! Call me a monkey if you want, but I'm going to keep eating bananas.

Well that's all I've got for this week. Thanks for all of your letters and support!

Elder Olsen

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2nd Week

Well the MTC just keeps getting better! It has it's discouraging moments at times, but I've never felt the spirit this strongly before. I love it here and there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I can't wait to actually go out and teach though. I know I still have a lot to learn, but there's only so much roleplay you can do. I want to teach REAL people!

I had a couple really cool experiences in the Referral Center this week. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's basically missionary work over the phone or through chat (which we get to learn how to do tomorrow). On Thursday I talked to a 60-year-old woman from Maine. She had ordered a free copy of the "Lamb of God" DVD after seeing an ad for it on cable. She wanted it to teach her deaf granddaughter (11) about the life and teachings of Christ. She was a very religious person but had been frustrated with organized religion her entire life because she felt they taught some false things. We talked for quite awhile about the Savior's sacrifice for us and exchanged some personal stories. I offered to send her a copy of The Book of Mormon and she seemed really interested and said she would read it. I was able to bear testimony that if she read it and sincerely prayed about it, she would know of the truth of it.
The other experience I had was yesterday when I called an elderly man in New York to confirm the delivery of a copy of The Bible he had ordered. We then got talking a bit and when I asked if he'd like the missionaries to visit him he said "Yes! Can they come on Monday at 1:00? Because I need to change the oil before that." I assured him that they would be there at the specified time.
It's been awesome to see how prepared and ready some people are to hear about the Gospel. I just wish there were some way to find out how things turn out.

I'm still struggling with Spanish somewhat but I think it will come with time. I can pretty much understand the teachers when they speak it and grasp a good portion of the scriptures, but I have trouble speaking it. I also found out that I can't roll the (rr). The tutor told me that it's something we learn in the first year of our lives, and if we aren't exposed to that sound very much then a lot of us lose the ability to do it. I might never be able to, but he said people would still understand me from the context of what I'm saying. He said his dad has spoken fluent Spanish for 30 years and still can't do it, so oh well.

The weirdest moment of the week was when I met an elder with my same name. He spelled it Erik Olson but I still thought it was pretty crazy. I wanted to get a picture with him but I didn't have my camera.

Well,it seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing my first e-mail here. The saying "the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days" is definitely true. It's kind of a weird phenomenon. Thank you all for your letters and support!

Elder Olsen

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Week in the MTC

Wow! This week has been crazy and incredible! I got dropped off at the MTC on Wednesday and only had a couple minutes to say goodbye. Soon after I met my companions. I have been put in a threesome which I guess is pretty rare but I love it. I couldn't have asked for better companions. Their names are Elder Larose (from Pennsylvania) and Elder Burns (from Iowa). We bonded very quickly and we are already best friends!

Everyone says the in the MTC all you do is study, study, study, but even knowing that I had no idea what I was in for. It is nonstop. There is absolutely no time to do anything but study. Even preparation day is very busy. The thing that seems odd to me is that we haven't hardly been studying Spanish at all. Maybe an hour a day in a classroom setting. The rest we have been trying to figure out on our own. It's been somewhat frustrating so far but I feel like It's beginning to come. We all have to write a talk for Sacrament Meeting in Spanish every week which is crazy. Then you just get called out of the congregation to give them occasionally. Luckily, I wasn't called on last week.

The first night I was called as the District Leader, which has contributed even more to the busy schedule. There are a lot of responsiblities and meetings to attend. One of my duties is picking up the mail for my district twice a day which is exciting. I also interview each member of the district every week. My district consists of seven Elders and 4 Hermanas. We really lucked out to get Sisters in our district. Everyone in the district has very strong testimonies and we've really come together in just one week. It seems like everyone has the companion(s) that's just right for them. My zone leader is an Elder named Aaron Smith who lived in the building next to me at BYU. A lot of my friends are friends with him during school. I have also met a lot of people that I know from either high school or BYU here.

So one rule at the MTC that's pretty tough is I'm only allowed to write any kind of letter on preparation day, so if I haven't written back yet that's why. I only get 30 minutes on the computer and there is a timer so this letter is pretty rushed. I think when I get to Arizona this rule will change somewhat.

So as of last week we are allowed to play basketball at the MTC again! Perfect timing! For awhile we weren't allowed to play because of the swine flu scare. Also, as of last night we are allowed to shake hands again. I guess the problem has been nearly resolved.

Last night we had an incredible devotional given by Elder John H. Groberg on service. It was very motivitational. There have been many other great firesides and devotionals but it would take too long to tell about each one. The spirit here is so strong and it's been awesome to just focus 100% on the gospel with no distractions.

The food here is really good but I try not to eat too much of it. One elder told me he has gained 13 pounds in his first 3 1/2 weeks. That better not happen to me! Well, I've got to go get a haircut now and send this message before my time runs out! I'll do my best to respond to all of your letters today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farewell and Drop-Off

Farewell and good luck Elder Olsen!