Monday, October 27, 2014

Stretford #1

Before I get into my letter I just want you all to understand how hard it is to write these letters. So much happens in a week that I just can't fit it all into one little email. But at the same time If I was reading a missionary letter I wouldn't want to know most of the things that happens in the life of a missionary simply because many times nothing happens. If that makes sense. If not... you probably haven' served a mission. 

I feel like it was forever ago that I last emailed! Last week in Carlisle we basically spent the whole week visiting members and investigators and saying goodbye. I don't think I told you but Elder VW and I both left Carlisle which is really unfortunate because we were having some really good progress. We taught a woman named Dxxxx who accepted baptism so we had 2 people scheduled for baptism and now that we are both gone we can't keep an eye on them to make sure they're doing ok. Which is a bummer. 

Thank you all for your support and confidence in me as a trainer. I really do appreciate it and it means more to me than you know. I got my new companion on Saturday so we have spent a total of 2 days together. His name is Elder Rxxxxx and he is from New Zealand. He's 18 and he's great! I feel super blessed to be his trainer. He's going to be great! As you can imagine I've been feeling quite inadequate, but I have been so blessed in so many ways. We are in one of the only 4 man flats in the mission with the zone leaders so they're helping me to keep and eye on him as well. And we have an amazing ward. Everybody is super keen on missionary work. Some of the best missionaries in the mission served in Stretford so I'm with esteemed company. :)

Can I tell you how amazing prayer is? I'm going to. 
I have never prayed more in my entire life. I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, homesick, tired, stressed, deranged, to name just a few. But as soon as I start praying It leaves me. One thing that I've learned through study and personal experience is that prayer is a form of work. Real true prayer is not a casual roll out of bed type thing. For me at least, it involves breaking a mental barrier that the natural man has to make a connection to Heavenly Father. When I break that barrier everything flows, and the amazing thing is that it flows both ways! My thoughts and feelings flow to heaven, and the blessings flow to me. When I break that barrier I don't get distracted by day dreams or anything! It's amazing. I have seen myself change as a result of prayer. I've been lifted beyond my own capacities to become better. I have truly felt the enabling power of the Atonement and I can testify that it is real. I've noticed myself become more personable and charismatic, more approachable and fun to be around, better looking and stronger... more humble.    

One of the other tender mercies of the Lord that I've seen is that being in a 4 man flat opens up a whole new world of foods to eat. I've been eating almost nothing but curry and pasta for the last 3 months and I'm sick of it. New people, new ideas, new food!! And guess what!!! I have a bunk bed and I'm on the top bunk! It's been too long since that has happened. It's wonderful. 

Well, I've included some photos (you're welcome)

Elder Rxxxx and myself. 
Elder Grxxx (zl), me, Elder Rxxxx, and Elder Oxxxxx (zl)
Me and the chapel in Carlisle
Thank you all. I love you loads. You should all send me an email. By the way, a special thanks to those that do. You people are top notch. :) I love you!
Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Carlisle #12

Well, it's that time again. Another 6 weeks are up and it's time for transfers. It's so crazy how fast time flies, it feels like 3 weeks ago that I was on the train from the MTC to Carlisle when in reality it's been 12 weeks. My news goes as follows: I'M GOING TO BE WHITEWASH TRAINING!!! On Saturday I will be transfered to the Stretford area in downtown Manchester. And I'm going to be training. In an area that I've never been before. And I'm going to be training. What the heck?!?! I've only been on my mission for 3 months! The only thing that has kept me from having a mental breakdown is the faith that I have that this call comes from God. He who is called is qualified. I have a testimony of the truthfulness of that statement. I got the call from the assistants on Thursday afternoon and the only thing thatI could say was "uh huh" and "wow". I was completely overwhelmed. As soon as I got back to the flat I kneeled down and prayed. I poured out my soul to Heavenly Father and asked for comfort and strength to be able to not freak out. I can't describe the answer that I recieved. It wasn't a heavenly manifestation by any means, but it was the closest that I have ever recieved and it was more than enough for me. All of my stress melted away. I felt comfort like I had never felt before. I felt like I was being hugged by a warm fluffy cloud where unicorns live. I know that God lives and that he answers prayers. He knows each of us personally and he loves us. Another part of my answer was a sure knowledge that this is what is best for me. This is how I'm going to be able to best serve my companion, the people, and God. This will enable me to become a better missionary. I'm going to miss Carlisle, but I will go forward with faith.
Wow. This week has been full of miracles. This first one still blows my mind everytime I think about it. It involves Pikachu, but I don't want to call him that, that's just weird. Let's call him Pxxx. Pxxx is the gay hit man that I've mentioned earlier. The alchoholic that has a crush on us. The last time we saw Pxxx was about 4 weeks ago. We went to his house and he was not feeling very well. He was contemplating suicide and He was struggling a lot. We told him that he needed to go to the hospital. A couple days later we went to his house without an appointment but he wasn't in. We spoke to one of his neighbors and he said that Pxxx was in the hospital. We prayed for Pxxx every now and again but kind of forgot about him for a couple weeks. Then last week on Monday his name popped in my mind during planning for Tuesday so on Tuesday we went to his house and lo and behold, he was there!!! We talk to him and Pxxx is completely sober. He tells us his story of what happened. Long story short, the night we last saw him, he was lying in bed, he threw up blood, his lungs were filling up with blood. He calls 999 (the english version of 911) and they rushed him to the hospital. His esophagus had burst. They performed surgery on him. He had a 10% chance of surviving but survive he did! The doctors told him that if he kept drinking he would be dead in 6 months. Pxxx hasn't had a drop of alchohol since. Miracle. And guess what! He's getting baptized!! He'll have to be interviewed by the mission president because he's committed a serious crime but I think he'll pass.
I could share more miracles but this is already longer than most of my letters. Basically, last week was really good. We taught some really good, powerful, spiritual lessons, we had investigators attend church, I've had some really insightful studies, and I've come to know my Saviour more. I want to share one more experience with you.
Last night we had a missionary fireside where Sisters Bxxxxx and Fxxxxxxx and Elder VW and myself sang songs and played music. The theme of the evening was the Restoration and the Saviors Atonement. I had a couple solos and I would like you to know that I nailed them. :) The spirit was so strong throughout the evening that you could cut it with a knife. I just want to let you all know that I know that the Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is my brother, my Redeemer, my friend, and my Savior. I know that he took upon him my sins and for that I will always love him. I know he lives. He truly was resurrected. I know it and I will not deny it.
Thank you all for your prayers. I have been able to feel them the last few days. I love you and am so grateful for your support. Thank you!!! I love you!!
 Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Carlisle #11

The week has been really really slow and quite hard.
When I wrote last week we had a really good week planned out, but one by one almost all of our appointments fell through. On Monday we went golfing again which was quite fun. We had been going to a city council run course so it was rubbish. This week we went to a proper golf course so of course it was much harder. I would like you all to know that I have either inherited golf genes (thanks Pappa) or I have the power of God behind every shot. I am a total baller when it comes to golf! ;) Unfortunately we had to cut our game short because of time constraints, but that's ok. We had 3 appointments planned for that evening and we were able to teach one of them, but the others were cancelled when we were on the doorstep to the house, so we wasted a lot of time going to and from different parts of town.
Tuesday it was zone conference so we took the train to Lancaster. As part of the meeting we carved pumpkins! Elder VW and I would've done really well but we were given a bread knife to work with so that didn't work out all that well. That night we had planned to have a dinner appointment with our branch mission leader and his family who aren't members, so we couldn't miss that. But we also were invited to go to a part-member less-active family's home for dinner and we couldn't miss that either! So we ended up making the sacrifice of eating at both houses. I was ready to die at the end of it. I felt so bloated. I found a scripture that's appropriate for this experience. 2 Nephi 9:51 the last 7 words. "and let your soul delight in fatness." I was trying so hard to delight in it, but I felt like their was a kangaroo with boxing gloves bouncing around in my belly boxing the inside of my ribs. I was convinced I would explode if I ate another thing.
On Wednesday I was feeling ok. I had tamed the beast inside me so my kangaroo was content. We helped someone move! English houses are really small, so we may have scratched a few walls with the sofa. That took up most of the day. We had a few appointments planned in the afternoon but like Monday, those fell through. At 7 we went to bible study with Jxxxxx at her church. It was super good! Everyone was trying to bash with us but we wouldn't bash back so they felt really dumb and it was great!
Thursday. I don't even want to talk about Thursday. Suffice it to say, though we worked hard, we accomplished nothing.
I don't know what it is with Fridays but it seems to like raining on Friday. And by raining I don't mean a drizzle. If that's your definition it rains every day, It RAINED on Friday. I don't know how to describe it. If you view "raining cats and dogs" as raining hard, it was raining pregnant elephants and obese hippos. It was chucking it down! Basically though we worked hard, nobody let us in.
Saturday was just as bad. It was the baptism of an 8 year old named Rxxx. The branch president asked us to fill up the font and to lock the building up after the baptism, and because of the party after the baptism, we were at the church for 7 hours. But Jxxxxx came to the baptism!! It was so good! Jxxxxx is going to be baptised. I know it. Something like 80% of investigators who attend a baptism will be baptised. I'm so excited for her!
Sunday. I love fast Sunday. It's pretty much the best thing ever. I love hearing the testimonies of steadfast members. Almost all of the adults in the branch are converts and they share powerful testimonies.
That's pretty much my week. We tracted and walked around in the rain. I have learned loads about diligence. It will pay of to keep working. I'm hoping and praying that the pay off will come this week.
But guess what!!! I love my mission!
I love you. Thank you for reading my emails. :)
Elder Olsen

Monday, October 6, 2014

Carlisle #10

So it has been a crazy busy week. Here's the run through.
Monday-P-day. We went golfing and shopping and it was great.
Tuesday-Normal day in the life of a missionary. Not really. We had district meeting which was good. We went tracting which is no fun. Nobody likes it. But the exiting thing came towards the evening. We kinda got kidnapped but not really. So the sisters and we got picked up by a member to go do service at her home. It took about 30 minutes to drive to her place. We spent about an hour cleaning her home, then for the next 3 hours we just sat around. The member did not want to take us home, she just wanted to party and chat and so we were stuck at her place for the better part of 4 hours. She got us home by 9 but because of what happened we didn't get much done. 
Wednesday-Good day. We met with a part member less active family and they fed us some.. interesting lasanga. It was strange. We're starting to teach them so that's good!
Thursday was normal. Appointments fell through, we ate curry, and walked around the streets of Carlisle.
Friday- I am convinced that rain brings miracles. It rained harder than I have ever seen it rain before. So what did we do? We tracted. :D I was thoroughly drenched within 10 seconds of stepping outside. We took a bus to one of the outlying towns and went to work. We saw so much success and taught so many lessons on the door step. :) It was one of the coldest, funnest days of my mission. When we caught the bus to go back to Carlisle, we sat down on this bus, which was packed. About 2 minutes into the bus ride a woman sitting in front of us turns around and asks "Are you Mormon?" Automatically I thought, Oh no. This isn't going to go well. We said yes and then she asked if we believe that the Lord's kingdom will once again come on the earth. We thought we were in loads of trouble now, that's a typical Jehovah's Witness question when they want to bash with us. Well we said yes and she looked thoughtful and said, "Oh, I believe that as well" What? You aren't going to bash with us? Anyway, we taught her this amazingly powerful lesson right there on this silent but crowded bus! After we finished she turned to the people around her and started doing missionary work! Preaching and telling people to repent and all that. It was great! That evening we stopped by 2 members homes and both times they gave us a towel to dry off with before they let us come in their house. We were wet.
General Conference!!! So on Saturday I was able to watch the 1st session live. It played at 5:00 p.m so that's how far apart we are.
Sunday morning we watched the Priesthood session at 10. Then the Saturday Afternoon session at 1. Hey guess what! So Joanne, our bashing investigator, dropped us last week, but she came crawling back to us and ended up coming to conference! It was amazing! She came in right as Elder Anderson was starting his talk and I swear that talk was written for Jxxxxx. It addressed one of her biggest concerns. Everything from that point on was just perfect. Conference was written for me and Jxxxxx. Sorry all of you who had to listen to it, maybe next time they'll write it for you. HA!
Anyway, at 5 we watched the sunday morning session live and that was great! We haven't been able to see the last session but I am going to listen to it as soon as I can.
Conference is like a shot of spiritual caffine. It just energizes me and makes me happy.
I love you all. Thank you for writting me and for your support. I love you!
Elder Olsen