Monday, March 29, 2010

Hey everyone! I have to split time with my companion this week so I only have a few minutes. We have seen a bunch more miracles this week but I probably won't have time to share them all. Everything is going very well in our area though!

Our lessons with Juan this week have been incredible! He is seeing so much opposition from co-workers and family members but nothing is stopping him. I won't go into much detail but let's just say that he commits to live all of the commandments before we can even finish teaching them! The other day, we watched Elder Holland's talk from last conference about the Book of Mormon. When it was done, he told us he didn't feel like he was "running fast enough." His baptism was scheduled for April 10th but because he's been to church enough, we were able to move it up. He will now be getting baptized on April 2nd, which I believe is the 3 week mark from when we met him! What an incredible experience! He's already been helping to fellowship the other people we are teaching.

Frank Robles (Julia's son) will also be getting baptized on the 2nd! We had some pretty cool experiences with him this last week as well, and both of them had their interviews yesterday. They are ready to go and excited!

After the cool experience that we had with Raymond last week, we couldn't find him until Thursday. When we finally found him, he was so happy to see us! Since that lesson when we brought Juan, everything in his life has taken a turn for the better. He and his girlfriend both got new jobs and their relationship is solid once again. In fact, it's so solid that they've been planning their wedding! We went to the church with them and had a very spiritual lesson on the Atonement and then we set a marriage/baptismal date with them. They are going to be married in the church on May 1st and right after he's going to be baptized!

I'm so happy to be a missionary. All of the difficult times and struggles are all worth it when you see people embrace the gospel. I love the church and I know it's true! Thanks for all of the support you all give me!

Elder Olsen

P.S. See you next week Mom!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Awesome Week #2!

Hola todos! We've had another incredible week here in the Sonora Branch, maybe the most successful week of my mission so far! We set records for lessons taught in a day and in a week, but most importantly, we are seeing tons of progress with our investigators! I don't even know where to start but this week has been filled with miracles!

First off, Juan is progressing incredibly fast! We had some of the most incredible lessons with him this last week. We usually end up spending at least an hour with him every night and he doesn't want us to leave. On Monday, we had planned something to teach him but then we felt prompted to teach him the word of wisdom. He is now 32 but he has been an alcoholic since he was 7. He was addicted to alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes. He had tried to quit many times before but he always fell back into his bad habits. We had an incredible lesson with him and he got really excited. To make a long story short, we dumped out all of his beer, crumpled up his cigarettes, and flushed his coffee down the toilet. Then we all knelt down and he committed to his Heavenly Father that he would never touch them again. He stopped them all cold turkey and his been clean for a week! Tell me that's not the power of God! We have seen an incredible transformation come over him since.

On Wednesday, he became a missionary. We had been really struggling with Raymond (who also has some word of wisdom problems) so we decided to take Juan with us to share his experience (they live in the same apartment complex). We then had another incredible experience. Juan took charge and basically taught the lesson! At this time we had known him for less than a week. For about 20 minutes he told Raymond the blessings he had seen and gave him encouragement! Then we all knelt down with Raymond and he offered a very heartfelt prayer, committing to keep the word of wisdom as well! We were all so filled with the spirit afterwards. Juan practically skipped back to his house because he was so happy!

That same night we had another sweet lesson with Frank (Julia's 14-year-old son). He has had a lot of negative peer pressure and he's kind of stubborn and very sensitive. He really wants to know if it's true though. We went back and shared the first vision with him, and then knelt down to pray. When we finished the prayer he didn't move. He stayed kneeling down for about 10 minutes and he was sobbing the whole time. The spirit was so strong! He now has a baptismal date for April 3rd!

Things are going pretty well with the other families we are teaching, the Valenzuelas and the Lopez. They are both still kind of at a standstill but they are making progress slowly but surely. We have awesome lessons planned with both of them tomorrow so we'll see how that goes.

I also got to go on exchanges with Elder Muniz (my trainer) this week so that was pretty cool. He is my zone leader now and we had a lot of fun. He also said that my Spanish has gotten a lot better so I was pretty happy about that. All six of the companions that I have had so far (including the MTC) are very close to me. Three of them are in my district and the other three are in the district that I just left. It's been really cool to get to work around all of them still! Just another tender mercy I guess.

I could go on and on about the other awesome experiences we had this last week but this is getting pretty long so I'll wrap up. I hope you all are doing amazing! Thanks for all of your support!

Elder Olsen

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Awesome Week!

Hey everyone! We have had a great week full of miracles! First and foremost, Julia got baptized on Saturday and it was a great experience for all of us! We had some really good lessons with her leading up to her baptism. The other day we shared the prophecy of the gospel going for the the Lamanite people in the last days (2 Nephi 30:5-6). As she read it, she choked up and didn't talk for a few minutes. It is SO awesome to see that prophecy being fulfilled.

She also became the answer to one of our prayers the other day. We were eating with the Banuelos family and Hna. Banuelos was really stressed out because their car had just broken down and she couldn't find a ride to the relief society activity that night. We left them with a prayer that she would be able to find a ride somehow. For some reason, Julia felt like she should swing by on her way to the activity to see if Hna. Banuelos wanted to go with her. How cool is that?

After church yesterday we went over to see the Lopez family and what do you know? There's Julia and another member already there, fellowshipping the other people we are teaching! She's excited to come out teaching with us sometime and share her testimony with others. Speaking of the Lopez family, they are doing really well. They have been going to all of the activities and even volunteered to help clean the church one night! Reina (the wife) has become really friendly with us too! She has given us food multiple times and signed up to feed us next week. She's also making some really good friends in the church so we are definitely seeing some progress there. They'll get baptized as soon as we can get them married.

The Valensuela Family was out of town this last weekend but we had a really awesome family home evening with them and the Banuelos family last week. We watched the Joseph Smith movie and it was really powerful. They learned a lot of things and the members were awesome! They have been praying for the faith to get baptized soon!

As far as Raymond, he's been super busy with work lately and hasn't been able to make it to church yet. We haven't even been able to see him much lately but hopefully we can soon. Even without him, we had six people come to church! We will likely have even more next week!

One of they people that came is named Juan. We found him a few days ago just out in a parking lot. He invited us to come back the next night so we did and we had an awesome lesson with him for about an hour and a half! He asked the perfect questions and the whole time he was really excited! The spirit was very strong and we set a baptismal date with him for April 10th! As we began to sing the opening hymn in sacrament meeting, I looked over and he was crying. He couldn't sing at all because he was so emotional. He had a great experience and is excited to learn more!

Well, I could go on and on about all the other awesome people we found this week and how they're doing but I think I'll wrap up now. We are definitely being so blessed right now! We've seen so many miracles this week! The church is true! I love you all!

Elder Olsen

P.S. Today is my 8 month mark. I'm 1/3 of the way done now. CRAZY!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Hey everyone! The biggest news from this last week is that I've been transferred but... just down the street again. The Douglas rumor proved to be false but I did get transferred so I guess it was half right. I have been transferred into the Sonora Branch which borders my last area. In fact, I was actually already in my new area when I received the transfer call. There is still some debate on what the borders are between the two. I found out that I've already done significant amount work in my new area because we worked in it a bit on accident my first couple months here. Anyway, I'm really excited! I loved the Valencia Branch but this was a much needed change. My new companion is Elder Farnsworth from Bountiful. He's only been out about a month and a half longer than me, but we have great unity already and we're going to do some good things! The thing I'm most excited for in my new area is the member support. The members are incredible and help us so much!

My first week here has been pretty good. We are teaching some solid people and we have a baptism coming up this next Saturday. Her name is Julia, and ironically enough, Elder Muniz and I had talked to her before because of the area boundary confusion. We had actually started teaching one of her sons, but one day she came out and told us she didn't believe in "the book of the mormons," and that her son wasn't interested either. She was even a bit hostile with us. Fast forward six months and now she's getting baptized! A member that lives nearby actually referred her a few weeks ago and I guess that changed her perspective. That's what made the difference in her joining the church! Members are SO crucial!

We are also teaching a couple other families. The Valensuelas have been investigating the church for about 15 months now. They are pretty much members but haven't taken the step of baptism. Last night we went over and went back to the basics. We shared the first vision and it brought the spirit in very strongly. They said they believe the Book of Mormon is true and that they need to get baptized. They just don't want to be pushed into it. We have a family home evening with them tonight in the house of some members! I'm excited to work with them and I think they will take that step in the near future.

Another family is the Lopez family. The husband is ready to get baptized but the wife doesn't want to. I guess she's started to change this last week though. She's become more friendly and open to us. We had some really good lessons with her and I think she'll accept the gospel in time too. The other thing is that they need to get married, so they may be a bit of a project.

So now I have a story. Once upon a time a few weeks ago Elder Jenne and I were at Wal-Mart. All of a sudden a lady shouted out his name. We came to find out that it was a girl who had recently been baptized in Douglas. She was with her boyfriend (Raymond) who would have been Elder Jenne's first baptism (he started his mission in Douglas). The couple had even separated so that he could live the law of chastity and get baptized. Unfortunately, Satan attacked him hard on the day of his baptism and he couldn't do it. Then they found out that his girlfriend was pregnant so they moved back in together. All that happened about 9 months ago in Douglas and then we randomly ran into them at Wal-Mart up here in Tucson! They moved up here with their new baby for college and work. We got their address and told them we'd go by. As it turns out, they live in my new area! We went by the first day I got to this area and found out that he's been reading the Book of Mormon and has gotten through 3 Nephi 27! He is ready to be baptized! The only thing holding him back now is that he and Michelle (his girlfriend) aren't married. But... they want to be! They just want to have a small wedding to get it taken care of and then have a party with their families some other time. It may happen as early as this week! We are really excited for them and there is no way that we ran into them that day at Wal-Mart by coincidence.

So that's what our teaching is looking like these days. As far as my last area, I think it's still doing really well. They could have a lot of success this transfer. It was actually kind of weird because we just switched companions. I took Elder Kinsey's spot and he took mine. I think it is going to be a good experience for both of us.

Church yesterday was pretty interesting. There were two baby blessings scheduled during sacrament meeting, but then the parents of the two babies decided to bring up their other kids to get blessed as well (even though they were older). More and more just kept coming up. When all was said and done, we had two babies blessed and four other kids received their baby blessings. I can't say I've ever seen that before. The branch presidency looked confused. They didn't know what to do so they just blessed them all. We also ran out of water for the sacrament so that took some extra time. We ended up with less than 10 minutes for testimonies. In priesthood, four men received the Melchezidek priesthood! It took the entire time but it was pretty neat.

Wow! This e-mail is really long now. I love you all!

Elder Olsen

P.S. Since I still live close to Elder Jenne, we're going to record the song we wrote one of these days. Then I'll attach it so you can all hear it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hey everyone! This week has been pretty good overall. The biggest news that I have today is that I will be being transferred on Wednesday morning. I thought I would be transferred the last two times too because of rumors from the zone leaders, but this time is pretty concrete because President Walker told me in my interview on Thursday that I would more than likely be leaving. I won't find out for sure where I'm going until tonight but there was a rumor floating around that I might be going to Douglas, Arizona, which is right on the border. I've heard good things about that place but I've learned not to trust the rumors, so we'll see what happens tonight.

Gabriel and Catalina have finally returned from California! We were able to see them on Saturday night and they came to church again on Sunday. Apparently, they got a lot of negative family pressure while they were over there though. I guess Catalina stood up for us a bit though. She's still not sure so we'll see what happens.

The Contreras family came to church again this week which we were really excited about! We made a lot of progress with the dad this week and they're doing great! It's been a long process for them but everything is finally starting to come together.

We found another lady earlier this week named Rosa. We have taught her every night (long lessons) since we met her. She loves having us over and she LOVES to pray. Earlier this week we asked her to give the closing prayer so we all knelt down and she began but then she never stopped. She just kept going and going and going and going. When all was said and done, she had prayed for 25 minutes! It was a great prayer but it was the longest public prayer ever! So Elder Jenne and I decided we would teach "prayer" the next night. We did and it went really well. We all knelt down and asked her to say the closing prayer again. Not to be outdone by the previous night, she prayed for 35 minutes this time! They are really sincere and heartfelt prayers though, so if that's what it takes to get her an answer it's worth it. It's just not something you see every day.

Rosa also has also started to do missionary work for us. She took the "Finding Faith in Christ" DVD over to her friend's house to watch it. Then she told her friend (Norma) about us coming over every night and Norma asked if we could come visit her too! We visited her and we have started to teach her, her father (Marcario), and her son (Cesar). They all have baptismal dates for March 27th and want to get baptized! The only thing that will hold them back is being able to get to church every week.

We also had another cool experience the other day. We had been trying to visit a lady but she wasn't home, so we were walking back to our car when another woman saw us and stopped us. She asked who we were and then told us that her mother-in-law is a member down in Nogales. She said she had seen us in the area before but never got up the nerve to come out and talk to us until now. She told us that she wanted to start learning and come to church and just "get a new start", including getting baptized. She is a single mother raising four children under six but she is excited to learn and make time for the the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's kind of sad that I have to leave all these awesome things behind now to go to a new area, but I'm glad I'm leaving the area how it is. Elder Jenne and his new companion could have 5 or more baptisms next transfer! It's hard to leave behind but I'm also excited for a change.

Thanks again for all the support you all give me! Have a great week!

Elder Olsen

P.S. Elder Jenne and I also wrote a sweet song this week. Maybe I'll attach the lyrics next week.