Monday, April 26, 2010

Hey everyone! I don't have a whole lot to share this week. It's been kind of a rough week but it turned out pretty good. We had seven people come to church and there's a lot of potential in them.

We moved up Olga's baptismal date to this Thursday because we have stake conference this weekend! She had her interview yesterday and she is solid and ready to go. We tried to get her to have a member baptize her but she asked me to so I'm excited for that. It's really been neat to see that change come into her life. She's seeing a lot of blessings too. It's been amazing for me to see the past couple of months how quickly the gospel can change lives.

We have also started focusing a lot on the Valenzuela family (I think I mentioned them about a month ago maybe). They have been investigating the church for a really long time but it seems like a lot of the previous missionaries have just been waiting around for them to get baptized. We set up daily contact with them and we are reading from the Book of Mormon together every day. We decided to start it from the beginning and now they are getting really into it. Things are going really well with them and I'm excited!

I'm sorry I don't have a whole lot to share this week. Hopefully next week will be more interesting. I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Olsen

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hey everyone! This week has been a bit crazy. It began last Monday when we got transfer calls. We weren't really expecting anything to happen but Elder Farnsworth got a call to serve in El Paso. My new companion's name is Elder Moore from Minnesota. He's only been out two transfers and he's been in the Gila Valley for his whole mission so far and it's almost all white over there. They did over 90% of their teaching in English so he's struggling with Spanish a bit but he'll get there. He's very dedicated and hard-working so hopefully we have an awesome transfer!

Also on Monday night, we had an incredible lesson with Olga. She told us that she liked the Book of Mormon and all of the things that she was learning but she wasn't sure if it was true yet. We read a bit with her and then watched Elder Holland's Book of Mormon talk from last conference. Then we all knelt down and prayed and promised her that she could receive an answer. She offered an incredible prayer! It was so simple but she asked directly if the Book of Mormon was true and if this church was true. Then we waited for about five minutes. The spirit was incredible! It may have been the strongest that I've felt it so far on my mission. After about five minutes she looked up with tears in her eyes and told us that she knew it was true! She told us that she felt an overwhelming burning sensation in her chest and that now she knew! It was one of the coolest experiences of my mission so far and she is preparing to be baptized on May 1st.

However, we all know that there is opposition in all things. It came last night and it came hard. We were eating dinner when we got a phone call from her telling us that she was getting kicked out of her trailer. Until a couple of weeks ago, she had been out of work since December, and consequently had fallen behind on her rent. She came home from church and they told her that she had to be out by that night. We left dinner and went over to see what we could do. We helped her pack everything up and made a bazillion phone calls and finally we found a member that is going to let her borrow a trailer for a couple weeks. We're not quite sure what she's going to do long-term, but we're grateful that we were able to work something out for now. When we went over to unlock the trailer, the member that is letting her borrow it told her his conversion story and bore a powerful testimony. Hopefully what could have been a faith breaking experience has turned into a faith making one.

While all this was happening last night something else kind of crazy happened. We went to the dumpsters behind the Family Dollar to get some boxes for Olga to put her stuff in. While we were looking, we found a box that was full of stuff. Elder Moore opened it up and found a soft cooler filled with all sorts of merchandise from the store. Somebody from the store had apparently been putting it there to steal when they took the trash out. We took the cooler into the store and the cashier saw us and looked away really quickly. She seemed really frantic so we went to the only other employee in the store, but she looked just as shocked when we talked to her. They ended up telling us some story about some guy robbing them but it was obvious when we left and thought about it a little more that they were the ones who had been in on it. Unfortunately since it was about 8:00 on Sunday night, they were the only ones working but oh well. We did what we could.

Well, that's just a little piece of this crazy week. You never know what you're going to get on a mission! That's what's so fun about it. There's also nothing I've experienced as rewarding as seeing someone change their life and enter onto a path of happiness and blessings that will last forever. This really is the work of the Lord and there's nowhere I'd rather be. I love you all!

Elder Olsen

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hey everyone! I don't think I have a whole lot to say from this last week but I'm finally sending more pictures! Frank and Juan were finally confirmed yesterday which was really exciting. We had a really good fast and testimony meeting and we got Juan to go up and give his testimony. It was so rewarding to see him up there in front of everyone and testify of the truth! Elder Farnsworth and I also gave our testimonies and it was a very spiritual meeting to say the least.
We have been finding some awesome new people to teach and we have several baptismal dates for the beginning of May! One of them, who we've actually been teaching for a couple weeks now, is named Olga. She is passing through some incredibly difficult trials in her life right now but she is showing some great faith. She has a hunger to learn and hear the word of God and she's been progressing really well. On Tuesday we watched The Testaments with her and she was speechless afterward. She tried to express what she was feeling but she couldn't quite get it out. She had this look on her face when it was done that I'll never forget. It was a look of amazement and happiness and peace all at the same time! There was an incredible spirit there! She is working towards being baptized on May 1st and is well on her way. I think she is already finished with 1 Nephi!

She also saw a really cool miracle this last week. She has been out of a job since December and doesn't really even have food in the fridge right now. One day she went to do her laundry at the laundromat and she decided to take the Book of Mormon to read while she waited. After a few minutes of reading, a complete stranger walked up to her and offered her a job cleaning houses! She is so sincere and we're really excited. She also has two sons who we are working with, Angel (18) and Isaias (13).

We get transfer calls tonight again but I bet we'll both be staying in this area. There will probably be some surprises though so we'll see. President Walker is going to be making a lot of changes before the mission splits at the beginning of July so anything could happen. Until next week...

Elder Olsen

front left to right (Elder Kasat, Elder Jenne, Me, Elder Cuevas) with the branch president's family in the Valencia branch

Julia's baptism

Frank's baptism

Juan's baptism

There are A LOT of members of the "cool church" in Tucson.

district meeting

Monday, April 5, 2010

conference+baptisms=great week

Ok, I have absolutely no time this week, even though there is a lot to tell. Most importantly, Frank and Juan both got baptized this last Friday! It was an incredible baptismal service and a ton of people came. They are not confirmed yet because of conference but that will happen this next Sunday! Juan is so solid! He has such a strong testimony and is finding every way possible to get involved. He loved conference and came out teaching with us right after. He's going to be a valuable asset for us and help bring many more people to the truth.

So as missionaries we have this rule that the passenger has to back up the driver whenever we back up in the car. On Thursday, Elder Farnsworth was driving and I was backing him up. When he had backed up far enough, I went up to the side of the car to start to get in like I usually do. This time though, he wasn't watching me and kept going back, and for some reason my foot was behind the front wheel of the car. My ankle got ran over and twisted up pretty good. It was pretty black and blue but I managed to limp around. It's actually getting a lot better now. The reason I tell this story is because Juan had asked me to baptize him the day before. I was already kind of stressing out about it because he's about 300 lbs. Not being able to put any pressure on my foot really worried me that I would drop him. So I called him up on Friday morning and told him I might not be able to do it. He was insistent that I do it regardless of the risk. I was stressing out about it pretty bad but then we called him back and asked if Elder Farnsworth could be in the water with me to help just in case. He loved the idea because originally he wanted us both to baptize him anyway! So it all worked out just fine. We both baptized him and everything went smoothly. Frank is doing awesome as well. Elder Farnsworth baptized him.

It was an awesome week overall, capped off by an awesome conference! It was so relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. I have to go now but I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Olsen