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