Monday, February 22, 2010

Hey everyone! This last week went pretty well over all until Sunday. We kind of had a let down yesterday but we're trying to stay positive.

We had some awesome lessons with the Contreras family this last week. We went over on Tuesday night and taught an awesome lesson about temples and how they can go there as a family once Evelyn and Roberto get baptized. We then set a baptismal date for the 27th of February which they were all excited about. I even jokingly said to mark it down on the calendar and the next think I knew, Evelyn jumped up and wrote it in. The only thing holding them back is the dad. His wife really wants him to baptize the kids, but he's not quite ready. We scheduled an interview with him and the branch president for Sunday to see if he'd be able to do it and we also set up the the baptismal interviews for the kids as well. Unfortunately, when we went by on Sunday morning, they weren't there. They just completely ditched. We haven't been able to see them since so hopefully we'll find out what happened tonight.

On to some happier news now. We found a really cool family this week! They are the Lopez family and have five kids! We were actually out trying to contact a former investigator in an apartment complex and some little kids asked us to play soccer with them. We played for about twenty minutes and then went and met the mom. We taught her breifly but she was just about to leave so we said we'd stop back another time. The kids were very insistent that we come play soccer with them again so the next day we went back. As we started walking in to the apartment complex, the kids went nuts! They started shouting "THEY'RE HERE! THEY'RE HERE!" We felt like celebrities! Then they all ran up to us and gave us hugs. We played with them again and then went and talked to both parents. We taught them a really awesome lesson and they are very interested in learning more. We are very excited to keep teaching them.

Yolanda (the cool lady we found last week) hasn't been home lately. We think she may have gone to Texas already, but hopefully we can get back in touch with her somehow. Gabriel and Catalina should be back from California tonight or tomorrow. We'll start teaching them again and hopefully they can get baptized soon. The English missionaries have started teaching the Julia lady that we found last week as well.

Miguel Ortega came to church again even though we still haven't been able to see him. He is always super busy and never home, but we're going to try to see him again tonight. He and his wife are going to have their baby blessed on March 7th so that's a good step.

I guess I'll wrap up with a funny story from this last week. Elder Jenne and I were contacting a guy that was outside his house when his son came out (probably about 30 years old). I began talking to the son while Elder Jenne talked to his dad. I could tell he was really drunk but we started talking for a bit. After about five minutes, he randomly gave me a hug and told me he loved me. Then he went inside. In a few minutes he came out with a shot glass of vodka and offered it to me. I declined but he just kept telling me how good it was and insisted that I drink it. After I turned it down three or four times, he went back inside looking dissappointed that I hadn't accepted. A few minutes later he came back outside. This time, he had put the shot glass on a barbie plate and cut up a lime to put on the side. I guess he figured that this extra effort would change my mind but I had to turn him down a few more times. I guess I didn't offend him too badly though because I got another big hug and another "I love you" before we left. I have a feeling he doesn't remember any of this.

Anyway, that was our week! Lots of ups and downs and everything-in-betweens just like always! I love my mission though! Thanks for all the support you all give me!

Elder Olsen

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wow! This has been quite the week! A lot of things have happened this week and I'm not quite sure where to start or if I'll remember them all. First and foremost, we just found out some HUGE NEWS about this mission about five minutes ago. I guess it's still kind of a secret because President Walker hasn't announced it yet, but we found it out from the church website so I think it's ok to share.

The boundaries for the Arizona Tucson Mission are getting redrawn in June. They are forming a new mission called the New Mexico Farmington Mission which will take about 1/3 of our mission boundaries including El Paso, TX (where a good portion of the Spanish work is). That means that if I get transferred to New Mexico or El Paso by June, that's where I'll be to finish my mission. I'm kind of split on where I'd like to be. I love President and Sister Walker and everything about Tucson, but El Paso is where every Spanish missionary wants to be (because it's about 85% Spanish). Needless to say, these next few months will be very interesting.

The other big news... THE CONTRERAS FAMILY FINALLY CAME TO CHURCH!! We have been working with them sooo much and it's finally paid off. This last week we baked Evelyn a birthday cake, bought them a framed picture of the new Gila Valley Temple to put up, and on Sunday we went and made breakfast for them. Everything is looking good to get Eveyln and Roberto baptized soon. We're still not exactly sure when but we're hoping before this transfer is up which is about 2 1/2 weeks.

Gabriel and Catalina went to California for a funeral this last week so we haven't been able to see them. They won't be back until this next weekend so it looks like their baptismal dates will get pushed back a little bit. Hopefully we can get them baptized before this transfer is up too (I have a feeling that I'm finally going to be leaving the Valencia Branch).

Elder Cuevas and I had a really awesome experience when we went on exchanges together this last week. Everything we had planned for the first couple hours of the day had fallen through so even though we already had plans of where to tract for the day, we decided to put it in the Lord's hand. We prayed and felt prompted to contact former investigators, and if they weren't home we would knock around where they lived. Sure enough, the former investigators that we tried to contact weren't home, so we decided to knock around. The first door we knocked, an 80-year-old woman answered the door and invited us in. We taught her about the restoration of the gospel and the spirit was very strong. Afterwards, we offered a prayer and got ready to leave. As we stood up, the spirit hit her so hard. She clutched the Book of Mormon to her chest and let out a little gasp and then said: "I feel SO good right now! Wow! I am so happy! You have just brought me the most wonderful feeling I have ever felt! Thank you so much!" She was more overcome with joy from the spirit than anyone I'd ever see before. She could barely even breath she was so happy! It was an incredible experience and one I'll never forget. It was amazing how the spirit led us to her and then touched her like that. The only downside is that she's going to Texas for a couple months now. I'm confident that one day she will be a member of the church. It wasn't a coincidence that we met her.

As if that wasn't enough, Elder Jenne and I had a similar experience doing the same thing on Saturday. One of the first doors we knocked, an African-American lady named Julia answered it and invited us in. She said she had just moved in a week ago and that she was looking for a church. She already had a strong testimony of the Savior but she hadn't been able to find a church that was right yet. We taught her about the restoration for about a half hour and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Everything went so well and it just made sense to her! She was really excited to read the Book of Mormon and come to church. She also felt that it wasn't a coincidence that we had found her. We had a good closing prayer and some 'hallelujahs', although this week they didn't come from Gabriel. She doesn't speak Spanish so we had to pass her on to the English missionaries, but I know we were led to her as well.

I'm pretty sure there were some other things that I was going to mention but I can't remember them now. I hope you are all doing well! Thanks for all of the support you give me! Have a great week!

Elder Olsen

New Mission Boundaries

Sandra's baptism (wearing black in the middle)

Jose's baptism

Evelyn's birthday

Breakfast with Eveyln and Roberto Contreras

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hey everyone! I only have a few minutes this week so I'll be pretty brief. Things are going great here! Catalina and Gabriel came to church again this last week and they are getting closer to baptism. They have dates for the 13th but it will likely be pushed to the 19th or 20th because they are going out of town. Hopefully everything will go well! We've had some great lessons with them again this week. We ran into an obstacle because Catalina didn't want to give up praying to the saints, but I think we've taken care of that. She has had some awesome experiences praying the right way. Yesterday morning we went over and cooked them breakfast which was pretty fun. We cooked pancakes, eggs, and hashbrowns. We were going to cook breakfast for the Contreras family too but they called and postponed until next week. Hopefully that will help them come to church.

Jose Morales (Sandra's brother) got baptized this week! Catalina and Gabriel were able to attend the service to see a baptism for themselves. It went really well and he's on fire! He will be receiving the preisthood next week and go to the Mesa temple as well! Even though we weren't the ones teaching Jose, it was great to see him take that step. It's also cool because Elder Jenne and I were the ones that actually started teaching him when we were on an exchange a couple months ago. I also taught him with Elder Cuevas for awhile before I got transferred. He's doing great and I'm so happy for him!

One last little random story. A couple weeks ago some guy in his 80s showed up at church. He said he is from Canada but he had just come from Mexico, where he was helping the missionaries by getting them referrals. Apparently, he'll be in Tucson for awhile now. He travels around and helps missionaries in different areas for awhile and then moves on. I guess he just lives in his truck in church parking lots. He's kind of an interesting guy but it's cool what he does.

Anyway, that's all for today. I love you all!

Elder Olsen

P.S. I have a few more things to add to the "Gabriel's pockets" list. Two empty lighters and a little Dora the Explorer pouch that holds his "medicine" (lip gloss and fingernail polish).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gabriel's Pockets

Hey everyone! This last week has gone pretty well. We've been pretty busy all day so I might not have much time to write today. We actually just got done helping Hermano Santiago (our branch mission leader) move into his new house. Before that we played basketball with him and our branch president, and we delivered a dryer to one of our investigators.

Catalina and Gabriel (the older couple) are still progressing well. The thing is, we're not sure if Gabriel is really accountable. Sometimes he's with it and sometimes he's not. He's the funniest guy ever though. He lives to collect cans. Every day we see him out and about, cruising the streets at about .00000001 mph to look for cans. It's pretty much a full-time job for him. I guess when he gets enough he goes to turn them in for money. This morning we went over to deliver a dryer that one of our members gave them. He took the opportunity to show us all of the things he carries in his pockets (everything that he likes). He had his wallet of course, but he also proceeded to pull out about ten bags (for collecting cans), his glasses, some random business cards and instructions for things, a full can of Pepsi, some body jewel sticker things that he found, and a spoon (in case anyone invites him into their house to eat). He pulled out a lot of other things that I can't remember and I'm pretty sure he had other things that he didn't show us. Hermano Santiago gave his testimony in sacrament meeting which earned another hallelujah from him, although it wasn't nearly as loud as the one a couple weeks ago. He's a character for sure.

Speaking of sacrament meeting, I had the chance to speak in Spanish for the first time. I spoke about the importance of missionary work, surprise surprise, but it went pretty well. Now, giving a talk in English seems super easy though.

We made some good progress with the Contreras family this week. Reynaldo (the dad) just got his appendix out so we were able to go give him a blessing. We also did some service at their house on Saturday morning and played soccer at a park after. The almost came to church this week but they called at the last minute and said they wouldn't be able to come. We're making some good progress though. I have a feeling they'll be back pretty soon.

I can't remember what else I wanted to say from this week. I'll probably remember something right after I send it but if I do, I guess I'll just add it to next week's e-mail. Have an awesome week everyone!

Elder Olsen

Random fact for this week: Circle K pretty much has a monopoly on gas stations here in Tucson. We checked on a GPS the other day to see how many we have around us. We have exactly 50 in a 6.5 mile radius from our apartment!