Monday, December 29, 2014

Stretford #10

Hello everyone! Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you!
It was a really good week being Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I told you about Monday and Tuesday last week because I emailed on Tuesday, So on Wednesday, Christmas eve, we stopped proselyting at 4:00. At 4:30 we went to a member's home and we at dinner. It was a traditional mainland European Christmas eve meal, consisting of dozens of types of cheeses and sausages. It was really good. I was stuffed afterwards. After that we met up with most of the ward and we went carolling at 2 nursing homes. Then we went back to the member's and watched Frozen. :) After we got back to the members, we watched Frozen again with the other missionaries in our flat. :)
The next morning we got to sleep in til 8, so at 8 we opened our presents! :) Thanks to all those who sent me something. I love you!
There you go. That's a picture.
Then we got ready for the day and went to one of the senior missionary couples with a whole bunch of other missionaries and we had lunch and partied. While there we watched Brave and Despicable Me 2. After that we went to a member's home and had dinner and Skyped home! It was a good day. That evening we packed up our stuff and went to the assistants flat to spend the night. It was us 4, the assistants, and 2 more elders. We watched the Lego movie that night, then got up early the next morning to go shopping. In England the big shopping day is the day after Christmas instead of Black Friday. So we all went shopping and it was crazy and there were a lot of people there and I forgot my wallet. But that's ok. I didn't want anything anyway!
So yeah. That was pretty much my week.
Here's another picture

Love you!
Elder Olsen. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas testimony

I have a testimony. That is why I am on a mission. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a testimony of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. When I left on my mission 5 months ago I felt like my testimony was strong, powerful, and unshakable. But the first day out here, when I had doors slammed in my face, English people turning up their noses at what I hold so dear, and having to sleep on a hard, flat pillow, I wasn't so sure that my testimony was as unshakable as I first believed. But after buying a new pillow and spending enough time talking to people to develop a thick skin my testimony started to grow stronger than ever before.
I know that God loves us. I know that we are his children. Jesus Christ is our older brother and our Savior. Joseph Smith is who he chose to reveal his gospel to, and because of that, we have prophets on the earth today. I know with absolutely no doubt that God loves us and the only way we can participate in the fullness of his love is found in this church. Jesus Christ truly died for us. I know it.

Thank you for your love and support.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stretford #9

Hello everyone!
I've had a great week this week. I think it may have been one of the best weeks I've ever had. I loved it. 
So on Monday we went to the Manchester Christmas Market. It's a European style street shopping, where different vendors come and set up their shops. Supposedly it's supposed to be the best one in England, So we were excited for the opportunity to go. It was a LOT of fun. We bumped into lots of other missionaries serving in Manchester that also decided to go, so we had fun looking at all the merchandise and having fun together. The whole thing is traditionally German, so I was having flashbacks of the time that we went to Christmas Markets while living in Germany. It was so much fun for me to remember the fun times from 12 years ago! Pictures are attached. 
Tuesday we were privileged to be able to go to the temple. It was sooo good. I don't think that missionaries get to go enough. This was only the second time that we've gone since leaving the MTC. I had such a spiritual experience, and I loved every minute of it. I've been studying a lot about the Atonement and birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, so it was really good to be able to go and learn more. Speaking of the studies that I've had, I've made some really interesting comparisons between the birth of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. As we know, when Jesus was born he was laid in a manger, which is what animals ate their food out of. Tradition tells us that a manger is made out of wood, but in reality, it was made out of stone. So animals eat their food out of a stone manger. The connection that I made is that a stone manger is very similar to an alter. In the Bible dictionary it tells us that alters are usually made out of stone. So we have this alter. Things are sacrificed on alters. Jesus Christ was sacrificed for us. He said in John that "I am the Bread of Life" and living water. Bread and Water go on the sacrament table, which is kind of like an alter. So the Bread of life is lying in this stone manger alter at birth. And on Sunday we have Bread on an alter which help us remember his death. Just interesting similarities. I hope that makes sense and it wasn't just me rambling. 
On Wednesday we had a really good day. We were able to teach a few lessons to people on the bus, and got a new investigator, so that helps us out a lot. 
Thursday we have weekly planning, But this week we have very little time to go out and work, so we spent most of the time planning what movies we are going to watch this Christmas (because that's allowed) and so we had a lot of fun. 
Friday and Saturday were similar to Wednesday, we taught a couple lessons and had fun. Saturday night we were supposed to meet a family at a restaurant and they were going to take us out to dinner, but they cancelled on us once we were already at the restaurant so we had fish and chips instead. 
Sunday was one of the highlights of the week for me. Church was amazing, and we had a good day working, but the highlight was that evening. The Stake put on a carol concert. It was absolutely amazing. I've never seen a stake with more musically talented people. The spirit was so strong. Along side the concert, there was a video played about the Christmas Truce. Which is absolutely amazing. It's a video produced by the Church about the end of World War 1. It's an amazing story. On Christmas, I don't remember the year, but the Germans and Englishmen got out of their trenches and played a game of soccer together. They sang carols and buried their dead together. All because of the spirit of Christmas that they felt. 
On Monday half of the mission got together at the Manchester Stake Center and we had a big dinner, white elephant gift exchange, and President Ulrich gave a talk. It was incredible. I loved it. President Ulrich expounded some deep doctrine that I don't think would be appropriate to share here, but it blew my mind. 
That was my week! It was good to hear from so many of you this week! I'm thinking about and praying for you all. Thank you for all the support and prayers. I love you.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stretford #8

Cache Valley boys all in one zone
Well, another week has come and gone and I am totally amazed at how fast this week went by. I feel like it was just the other day that I sent my last letter. Which I read again today, and I sounded totally depressed!! I would like you to know that I am not depressed, not even a little!! But missionary work is hard when people don't accept what you believe with all your heart! But in saying that, we are progressing a lot better. 
So I won't go through a day by day because I don't have tons of time (I really need to work on my time management). 
This week we rode a lot of buses. And we spoke to a lot of people. I am really starting to enjoy it! We call it bus contacting. And when you are bus contacting, you meet some really interesting people! I've met engineers and homeless drunk people, and rich drunk people, and someone who's biggest desire in life is to assassinate the queen, and every other type of person out there. But we are still in the same boat. We have no people to teach. We can teach lessons on the bus all day long, but it doesn't mean anything to us if we can't get any follow up appointments. But we are pushing through it and Elder Rxxxx and I know almost all of the bus drivers and we are pretty much pro at talking to people. Sometimes we talk at people because they don't listen, but that's ok. I'm sorry if this doesn't make any sense, I have very little time so I'm just word vomiting. Anyway, My week was great!  I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been working so hard and I had the best night sleep of my mission last night. So yeah. I love you all. Thank you for your support. Love you!
Elder Olsen
I live on my own road!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Stretford #7

This is crazy. Transfer 4. Nothing has really changed in my situation. One of the zone leaders who share our flat left and a new one came in so the dynamics of our flat slightly changed but things are pretty much the same. 
So this week has been amazingly uninteresting. Like, if I were to send a normal email, I wouldn't want to read it. I would be so bored. So real quick, Monday was p day and we went shopping. I bought a new tie (with matching cuff links, and rudolph cuff links. 
Tuesday was a normal day.
Wednesday was normal.
Thursday was normal.
Friday was normal. And by normal I mean riding buses 5 hours a day, just so we can talk to people. I feel like it's kind of a cheap way for missionaries to get out of doing missionary work, but it's what they want us to do and it's how they want us to do it so I'm gonna do it! After that we tract in the evenings, because that's when families are more likely to be home. That is a normal day. 
I'm personally kind of struggling with the work, just because I LOVE teaching people. And we don't really have anyone to teach so we are trying to find people all day and it just gets old after doing it 7 days a week for 6 straight weeks. 
Saturday was our ward Christmas party. It was fun but it wasn't an effective use of our time. I sound like a negative Nelly right now! This isn't good! We had a part in the program, but it was at the end so we couldn't leave, and the music was such that we couldn't listen to it, so we spent some time in the hall just sitting there. Saying that, I had fun.
I feel like this was a downer email. But don't think that!! I am not down right now! I am loving being out here and doing the work. I am happy and enjoying myself. But I would appreciate a few extra prayers on our behalf this week please. I love you. Thank you for your support. 
Love, Elder Olsen

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stretford #6

Mission Grandpa (Elder VW), Dad (Elder Olsen) and Son (Elder R)
This 6 weeks has gone by so fast. Time is super weird when you're on a mission. I can't describe it, but it's really weird. As far as Transfers go, Elder Rxxxx and I are both staying in Stretford for Christmas. :) Alright, here's a quick run down of the week. 

Since Monday is P-day all the missionaries in the Manchester zone got together and we played American Football! It was so much fun to get out and it felt so good to exercise like that. I'm getting so out of shape it's not even funny.  Anyway, It felt really good to run around for a couple hours. After that we all went to a Carvery, which is pretty much a posh Golden Corral and ate Thanksgiving dinner. That evening we had a lesson with Jxxxxx, our Golden investigator. I don't remember how much I've told you about Jxxxxx so I'll start at the beginning. President Ulrich promised us that people are being prepared behind doors, so the focus of the mission changed from street contacting to tracting. So I was praying about a street to tract and my eyes were drawn to a certain street. I kept looking at the map but I couldn't pull my eyes away from that street. So the next day we knocked the doors on that street. About a quarter of the way down the street we knocked this door and this lady popped her head out the upstairs window and asked who we were. We told her we were missionaries and she came running downstairs and let us in. We taught her the restoration there that night and set up another appointment with her. She is such a good investigator. She asks all the right questions, she agrees with everything being taught, and she actually keeps the commitments we give her. To date we have taught her the 1st 2 lessons and she is dated to be baptised on the 20th of this month! 
Tuesday was a pretty normal day, nothing much happened. 
Wednesday was the same.
Thursday was Thanksgiving day!!!! Which unfortunately isn't celebrated in England. But that's ok because if you have memebers from America in your ward they might just invite you over for dinner! Which is exactly what happened! So our dinner appointment was scheduled for 5:00 and it was about an hour away by bus. Come 4:00 we go to catch a bus, but Elder Rxxxx lost his bus pass. So we almost ran back to the flat to try to get money to catch the bus, but we had no cash in the flat. So we very quickly walked to the ATM to get money out, but both of our cards with Church funds were empty, and the ATM wouldn't take either of our personal cards. At this time it's about 4:30 so there is no way we can make it there on time, let alone make it. So we try to get ahold of this member but we can't get through until almost 5:00, But as soon as she finds out that we can't make it, without hesitation she called a taxi for us and told us she would pay for it. It was amazing. So we got a proper Thanksgiving dinner. 
The rest of the week was nothing special. But we did mud masks! Pictures will follow. 
We didn't have any cucumbers
so we used lemons...

The highlight of the week for me didn't come as a story. It's not something that we did. It's something that I experience on my knees. I was praying, desperately trying to figure out what I could do to be a better missionary, and it hit me like a pile of bricks. I need to be myself. Looking back on my mission, It feels like I tried to squeeze myself into a missionary mold, which is wrong. I needed to just become a missionary. I don't know how to explain it, but I'll report next week on how it went. 

Thank you so much for all your love and support. I love you.
Love, Elder Olsen

Stretfortd #5

Well it's been an interesting week. :) But I absolutely loved it. On Monday we went shopping at the Trafford center, one of the biggest malls in the UK. It makes the Cache Valley Mall look like a... Well, this was a big mall. I didn't end up buying anything, which means I have developed self control! YAY! It was really fun. I have pictures but I wasn't able to bring my camera today, I'll send them next week.
If I were to look at my week from an outside perspective, I would think it was a terrible week. We didn't teach many lessons, we had so many doors slammed in our faces, and we got rained on. But I had a way good week personally. I grew so much more as a person, and my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has gone up so much as well. 

Some of the Anti-highlights that we had: 
We were tracting, and this black African man opened the door. He looked like he was going to say something but then just stopped. He looked at Elder Rxxxx and just said, "I'm shocked!" For the next 5 minutes he proceeded to tell Elder Rxxxx that he is an embarrassment to himself, his family, and all "colored" people everywhere for being a part of the Church, which is "one of the most racist organizations to every exist. That was a fun one for us to try to sort out. 
Another time we were out tracting and again, an African man opened the door. It's important to note that the door swung out. And he just stood there. And stared us down. It was my turn to speak at the door so I asked him how he was doing and he just stood there and stared at us like we had just killed his mother. I asked him if he was religious and suddenly he just shouted at the top of his lungs "NO!" And then he went quite again. Just that single outburst and that was it. I asked another question and the same thing happened. "NO!" I asked if we could come in to share a message with him and this time he didn't say anything. So I grabbed the door and closed it and we walked away. Right after the door closed he opened it back up and like a normal human being asked us very politely to shut the gate. 
Last night we went to teach a less-active member and we brought a fellowshipper with us. At this Less-actives home was her Muslim boy-friend. Bruce R. McConkie said, "You should never get into a bible bash, but if you do, make sure you don't lose. So we did just that. We tried everything not to get into a bash, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. This Muslim had read the bible, the Book of Mormon and the Quaran. We Destroyed him!!! :) But we left as friends so it's ok.   
We had some other experiences similar to this that aren't worth mentioning. But the gist of it is that we had a rubbish week. But I loved it. On Friday, we went back to the flat for dinner at about 6. And I just poured my heart out in prayer. It was probably the most discouraging day I had ever had. Which resulted in the most sincere prayer I had ever had. That evening after dinner we went back out and we had 2 AMAZING lessons. The spirit was there and these are incredible investigators. I'll tell you more about them next week. 

It was stake conference on Saturday and Sunday, and it was one of the best stake conferences I had ever been to. I feel like I was hit by a spirit bomb. It was amazing. I loved it so much. 

Today for P-day, we played American Football with a lot of missionaries. It was so much fun. I loved it. I am so dirty right now. It was muddy. :) 

Anyway, I'm happy right now. Thank you for you're love and support. I love you!!!
Love, Elder Olsen