Monday, March 30, 2015

Ashton #11

Hey Chaps! How are ya? 
Just so you don't forget, this is what I look like. You see that sky? That's the norm. Yup. 
Alrighty! So my week this week went pretty well! It was one of the fastest weeks of my life, which is nice. It feels so nice as a missionary to have a busy schedule. If you don't, things just drag and the days are super long, but it was fast and I don't know what happened to the week. 

So on Monday last week after emailing we went to Oldham, about a 20 minute bus ride away, to meet up with some other missionaries at the church to play some sports. We got there and there were tons of missionaries! There must have been about 25. We played some version of volleyball similar to king of the court, but it was weird because everybody was constantly rotating. I pretty much owned, thanks to all the training I got from my almost state champ sister! It was a lot of fun and it was nice to meet up with other missionaries to help relieve stress. I have some good friends serving in nearby areas so it was good to be able to talk to them. 

A week or two ago I spent some time calling all of the former investigators and potential investigators that were saved in the phone. I managed to set up an appointment with a former and then last week we had that appointment. It was a really good visit, a little unorthodox, but good none the less. They are an African family of 7, so it kept me on my toes. Families that big in England are rare, and I've only taught families that size twice on my mission, and they were both member families. So it was a new experience. I've learned that the key with people who have come from Africa is to focus on Jesus Christ. Most have a pentecostal background, so it's always full of "amens" and "hallelujah"s thrown in there, which is so much fun! :)It was really good to meet with them, because turning my focus to Christ like that helped me to realize that I should be doing that with everyone I teach! I realized that while I've been talking about Him and teaching the lessons, I haven't planned my lessons around Him, and the Investigator. So I have a new plan going forward as how I'm going to teach lessons. 

Over the weekend I went on exchange with my district leader, Elder Lxx. We worked in his area, mostly. We exchanged on Friday morning, and went to his flat for lunch, which is where the crepes come in! Elder Lxx's companion is Elder Cxxxxxxxxx, who is from France. He made us a big bowl of crepe batter so we made some crepes! It was one of the highlights of my week. :) Anyway, my exchange with Elder Lxx went really well. We were supposed to have a super busy day, but one by one all of the appointments fell through, except for our service. We painted a fence for a single sister, so we did it while she was inside cooking food for us. We had a really good conversation about different trials that we are going through, and we were able to help each other out a lot. I currently have a situation that God has given me, as a test and as a growing experience for me. I'm definitely learning so much from this. Anyway, we lucked out because our dinner appointment for that night fell through right as it was supposed to start, but the lady we did service for had given us food! Talk about a tender mercy. And it was curry! We extended the exchange a little and swapped areas the next day, and Elder Lxx and I went to go teach Mxxx and Axxx. We didn't present any new information, but we went over some of the things we had already taught. It was such a good lesson. The spirit was super strong and I was able to learn good teaching skills from Elder Lxx, who's amazing. 

Last night I had a crazy experience, but before I get into it, I want to say that Satan is real. I've had experience after experience that have led me to know that. Most of them are negative experiences, but last night we had a really positive experience dealing with the Priesthood and Satan. It's not one of the more drastic stories that I have, but the implications of what could have been are scary. We were able to go to bed early last night, which was nice, but while I was laying in bed, I began to feel uneasy, and I got really nervous. Elder Bxxxxxxxxxx must've felt it too because he got out of bed to check that the doors were locked. A few minutes after he got back, I still had the really uneasy feelings, and I had one of the most distinctive promptings I'd ever had. It was a clear feeling that we needed to dedicate the flat right then. So I got us both up and we knelt there and dedicated the flat. I immediately felt peace and comfort and went to sleep easily. Yep. I know it's small, but God's power is real. 

Anyway, I love you all. You're the bestest! 

Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ashton #10

Hello all! 

This week I taught Mxxx and Axxx, again on splits. I was with our ward mission leader, Brother Hxxxxx, and we taught the Word of Wisdom. It was the first time that I had ever taught or attempted to teach it, so I was really glad that he was there with me. He kind of took over the lesson, which usually is really bad, because some members teach weird stuff, but Brother Hxxxxx did a really good job! They both committed to live it and work on cutting down on cigarettes and quitting the alcohol. I'm really excited for Mxxx and Axxx. I think sometimes we as members don't realize how hard it can be for people to join the church. Looking at it from their perspective, 2 strangers are coming into their home, telling them that there is a supernatural being out there who loves them and watches over them, that they are sinners and need to repent in order to be saved, and asking them to change their life style from a commonly accepted standard of living to what we call a "higher standard" of living. It's a lot to take in! But Mxxx and Axxx are champs and they're doing a good job accepting everything. 

Other than that, not much happened this week! I don't have any more time, but I love you all! 
Thank you all for you're love and support. 
Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ashton #9

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had a good week this week! Especially all you women because yesterday was Mothers day over here in Britain! So Happy Mother's day!! 

For this email I will write some highlights and fun happenings from this week. I won't do a day by day but I will try to put this in chronological order for the most part. All in all it was a pretty good week. From going on exchange and different studies that I've conducted this week I've learned a lot about my potential and capacity as a missionary and how I can apply that to my proselyting and other aspects of being a missionary. 

Axxxxx is the most recent convert Ashton 1st ward has. He was baptised by my trainer Elder VW when he was here 18 months ago. He has a problem with and is working to over come alcoholism. He rung us up and asked us to come over to have a visit with him, this was the first time that we would see him because he had been previously living in a nearby town in a rehab center. He came home for the weekend and got drunk and that's where we come in. He called us up and asked for a visit so we went over to see what we could do to help him out and found him in a drunken state. We did what we could to talk about how the atonement of Jesus Christ can help us overcome anything, including addictions, but it just wasn't sinking in for him. Talking can only do so much, at some point, faith (we're talking verb sense here) has to kick in and action is required. So Elder Bxxxxxxxxxx distracted him, while I went around the room and picked up various half full bottles of drink, and dumped them down the sink. We then proceeded to vacuum his floor because there were at least 50 cigarette butts lying around. When we left there were tears in his eyes and he thanked us graciously. It taught me that charity can penetrate through the walls of anything and anyone. 

I had an exchange this week where I worked with Elder Cxxxxxxxxx, a Frenchman, in my area. He is one of my favourite elders in the mission and I learned so much from him. He came out about 2 months after me, but he's an amazing example of finding joy in missionary work. He turned 18 in the MTC so he's quite young and full of boundless energy, so we didn't tire out and just kept going! And going... We were having so much fun and seeing so much success, stopping people and teaching lessons that we didn't realize how late it was. So that evening when we got to our destination, trying by an investigator, we had spent so much time teaching on the street that it was 9:20! But I didn't know that until after I had already knocked on the door! So we had a short conversation with them where I was profusely apologizing and then we left for the flat with a return appointment set up! Luckily a bus was coming around the corner so we made it back to the flat before to long. I had so much fun that day. :)

 On Wednesday we went on splits, me with one member of the ward and Elder Bxxxxxxxxxx with another. I went with Brother Hxxxxxx to go teach Mxxx and Axxx. When we went last week to teach the Law of Chastity Mxxx was ill and didn't catch a lot of it, so we went over that again and he understands it, even though he doesn't want to live it. But he promised he would pray about it. 

This is the fun part here... :) We got to do service this week for the Fxxxxxxxx, one of the best families in England. They have lots of land that had been neglected by previous owners so there is an unending task list. We started out using a heat gun to scrape old paint off the outside of there house, that was a monotonous and long task. We spent some time on that and then moved on to the next project, which was clearing vines of the top of a shed. We started out on ladders just pulling off what we could reach, but this is a big shed so in order to get the vines from the middle I had to get up on the roof of the shed to do it. I cleared off all of the vines and was walking back to where the ladder was so I could get down, when all of a sudden the roof collapsed under me! I fell through the roof! which happened to be made of asbestos... It could've been a REALLY bad accident, but luckily I have monkey like reflexes and threw out my arms and got tangled in the rafters! So I'm perfectly fine, just a small bruise on my arm (I promise it really is small mom!) So now I have to go back and fix the roof...

This morning at about 9:00 we got a call from a less active who said he needed our help as soon as possible. So we called the assistants and got permission to leave the flat early and extend P-day as long as it takes and then we went to his house. Turns out last night he tipped over a candle and set his bed on fire. He said he had a pretty good burn on the back of his leg and lower bum. But he was sitting on it so I didn't think it would be that bad, but something inside me made me question him about it. So I asked what it felt like when he touched it and what color it was, etc. When all of a sudden this 70 year old man stood up and pulled his pants down for me to see! It was a pretty bad burn. He said he could sit on it because it was numb. But he refused to go to the hospital for it so I walked him through basic first aid for burns and that was that!

And last but not least, mothers day. The mothers day programme at church is a universal thing. Except this time, I was without my mother. I think it made me appreciate her a little bit more. The primary kids sang a couple songs, and then passed out flowers to all of the women (including Axxx). The entire programme touched my heart and I cried through the whole thing. I haven't seen my mom in 8 months, but I can feel her prayers. I love you Mum. Thank you for all you do for me. You're the best mom in the world. Thank you. 

Well that's it for this week! You'll be hearing from me again next week, same time, same place. I love you. 

Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ashton #8

Hello everybody! This week had ups and downs to it, but I wanted to focus this email mainly on the biggest up. 
In our mission, well probably in most missions, a lot of missionaries struggle with getting up on time to exercise. As a incentive for us to exercise, he promised us a reward. He didn't tell us exactly what it would be, but on Tuesday I got to reap the rewards of my labors. Those of us who exercised got to go the the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Wow. What a great experience that was. We took a train up to Chorley where the temple is, and then I had to go on a short exchange for the day, and my new companion and I went to the temple. I feel like it's been such a long time since I have done baptisms, so being able to do it again made it special in and of itself, but we had the great privilege of being able to not only be baptised and confirmed for the dead, but to baptise and confirm. I had never before had the chance to preform the baptisms, so it was so neat and spiritual. They didn't have any officiators doing anything, So I got to keep the records as well. Ah! It was so good! 
Here's a picture

I want you all to know that I know that God answers prayers. I have gained such a testimony of this simple principle the past few days and weeks. It's so simple! Just like a loving parent wouldn't kick a child out of the house without making sure they had the means to communicate with them, God didn't send us down to earth without providing a way for us to communicate with him. We can pray to God and receive answers! How absolutely amazing is that?! I love my mission. Even the hard times because that is when I learn to truly rely on God. Thank you for your prayers in my behalf. I know that they are answered because I can feel them. I love you all. 
Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ashton #7

Hello everyone!
So this past week was transfers, so for the last couple of days of the transfer, we had P-day, and we didn't do much that day,Tuesday Elder Sxxxxxxx wanted to say good bye to members in the ward, because this ward is amazing, but unfortunately for him, we had completely booked the day with lessons with Investigators and Potential investigators. I know right? It's such a bummer, we actually had a full day! The thing that made the situation bad is that every single one of those appointments fell through. So we had a whole day of walking to appointments that didn't end up happening. 
But! We did manage to find a street right out of Frozen during our travels!

I know it's not the same, but it's close enough! 
So unfortunately we weren't able to say goodbye to the members for him or do the appointments. 
Wednesday was transfer day, so I said goodbye to Elder Sxxxxxxx and said hello to Elder Bxxxxxxxxxx! Ever since then it's been lots of fun, but stressful as well (taking over the area). We had an adventure travelling with all of the luggage. 14 missionaries 7 of whom had everything they needed for 18 months to 2 years of their lives all on a bus. We were so lucky someone in a wheelchair didn't get on the bus. I don't know what we would've done. 

As far as news with Elder Bxxxxxxxxxx goes, I don't really know what to say! I don't really have anything I want to report from the last couple days of serving with him. 
Oh! Except for this! Yesterday night, the mission had a fireside where anyone who had been baptised in the last couple months had the opportunity to bear their testimonies. Mxxx and Axxx went to that, and it would've been really good, but it went WAY to long. We didn't get home until after 10. It was supposed to be an hour and it took 2 and a half. But other than that not much! Just some pictures because they are worth 1000 words. 
Love you lots!
Elder Olsen