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

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