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