Monday, February 29, 2016

2 Carlisle #6

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are all well, and that life is treating you nicely. I'll just jump right into my week!

Last week after I emailed we all piled into the car and drove to the Scottish border! I didn't go past the sign so I can't say I've been in Scotland, but I have been to Scotland! Right up next to it. :) I was sat in the back sticking the camera out of the car snapping photos the whole time. It was a good ole adventure!

Tuesday was district meeting! I loved it because I didn't have to train on anything! Delegation is the best, other people can do the hard work. We learned about the difference between pride and confidence. I think it's an interesting balance. Sometimes they compete with each other but other times they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. After district meeting we went to do a street display in Workington town centre but we were kicked out by the council before we were 5 minutes into it. So we packed up and headed back to Carlisle, with 2 more missionaries in tow. The exchange policy for this mission has changed, instead of swapping companions and working in each other's areas, now all 4 missionaries work in the leaders area. So I went on exchange with Elder Mxxxxxx, from Tonga. He's a big teddy bear with strong desires to do what's right. I was able to talk with him really openly and since I've come through some of the things that he is going through it was a good exchange. He lacks self confidence and that's a battle I've fought myself. It was really good and we were both edified.

It's a good thing we have a really big flat, especially with other missionaries staying over more frequently now. The next day we went out and hit the streets some more! I learned from Elder Mxxxxxx that finding is an attitude, not an activity. I really liked that and it's true. It's the principle of forever finding put into practice. Not much more happened on Wednesday, except I found a spot where there used to be a leper hospital not far from where we live! I'll get a picture of the sign today.

Thursday was going to be dynamite! But everything fell through, so we just knocked doors all day. It was the first time on my mission that I'd knocked a whole street with not one door opening. Not really a bucket list item, but I'll cross it off some list anyway.

Friday... I made the most amazing curry for dinner. It was so good! So there's that... The only other interesting thing that happened is the swarm. There is an area in Carlisle called Botcherby. It's a bit rough, one of the roughest in Carlisle, which isn't very rough. But as we walk into Botcherby the sky darkened. I'd say that the sun was blocked, but the clouds were already doing that. It was the biggest cloud of birds I have ever seen. There were literally millions of birds in this cloud. And they were all synchronized creating shapes, diving and rising together. It was amazing. I was pooped on not one, not twice, but 6 times when the flock flew over. It was literally raining bird poop.

Saturday was a good day too. We worked hard and talked to a lot of people. I don't have much more to report about the rest of the week...

We got transfer calls and I will be staying in Carlisle. Elder Kxxxxxx is leaving to go to Liverpool. My new companion will be Elder Kxx, from Spain. He was in the district this transfer so I've gotten to know him a bit. It'll be good!

Here's some border pictures!

Monday, February 22, 2016

2 Carlisle #5

Hello everyone!
It's been a good week for the most part. Here's a few of the highlights from week 4 of this transfer! I'll try to stick to basics rather than going off on some tangent like usual, but no promises. 
On preparation day last week after we did our shopping and got everything done we went bowling! We were going to go to a castle but miles restrictions prevented us from going. We had a great time and I only embarrassed myself badly once! It was a funny moment, I was trying to put some curve on the ball and as I released the ball my feet slipped out from under me and I fell down in a pile of uncoordinated shame! I didn't get a gutter ball though! I got 3 or 4 pins so I was able to pick myself up with a small piece of my pride intact! :) 
On Tuesday we went to Workington for district meeting. The other set of Elders in Carlisle have the car, and we don't ever get to use it, so even though I have my license I'm not the designated driver, so I haven't driven since my test. So they drove us out there. We had a street display afterwards which went well. We have a powerhouse district. I'm really impressed with some of the missionaries we have. The level of diligence and hard work really impresses me. It makes me want to be a better missionary! 
What else...? Ok, so Thursday morning we got a call from the other Elders, who had gotten a call from a less active man just minutes before. He was wanting help moving and it was happening that day. We didn't have any appointments so we went overage proceeded to help with the most difficult moving job I've ever attempted. There was a lot of big stuff, and some of it was heavy, but he hardest part was the location of the flat. It was a 3rd story flat over a shop and it had a super steep staircase with a 180 degree turn halfway through. And that's after we work around the banister and in and out of bedrooms whatnot. At one point we had a sofa wedged in so tight that we had to through ourselves at it to try to get it to budge, and when it did fall we had another person below who had to catch it coming down the stairs. We only wrecked 2 walls and the ceiling though! It could've been worse! That night we had coordination meeting, and it felt like we were on the hot seat! We only had one name on the progress record, because all of our other appointments had fallen through. I'm sure our branch mission leader thought we were slacking off. 

Friday we worked just as hard as we have the rest of the transfer, but this time we reaped! We had a great day teaching people and schtuff like that. We found 4 new investigators, which is huge! That's probably the most I've ever had in one day. It was a really good day.

Saturday was just the opposite. We were so excited from Friday that during planning Friday night we planned the tracting in the same area for the whole day. That wasn't the best idea. We worked super hard but weren't able to teach anybody. It was one of the longest days of my mission. But we got through it alive. :)

Sunday was great as always and here I am on P-day writing again!

Thanks for reading! No pictures today, maybe next time. 
Love you all!

Elder Olsen 

Monday, February 15, 2016

2 Carlisle #4

Good Morning everyone!
Elder Kxxxxxx and I had some pretty good days this week. One of my favourite parts of this work is to see how the Lord takes average people who speak average things and magnifies their abilities and words. We saw that this week, 2 young men like us do not have the ability to do what we do. The Lord strengthens those who trust Him and Magnifies those who act with faith. Unfortunately I can't really illustrate this with an individual experience, but rather it's a collage of people and events that make it clear in my mind. The Lord takes raw materials, and refines them! I'm not perfect, but I'm a whole lot better off than if I was sat on my backside doing nothing. 
I learned a great lesson this week dealing both with heat and a lack of it. 1st, when it's cold, wear gloves, especially when biking. I got really good at biking with my arms folded trying to warm my hands and shield them from the cold. 2nd is that I need to pay more heed to common sense. I found a lighter on the ground so naturally I needed to set something on fire. Unfortunately my hand was in the way and I burned myself. It isn't terrible, but it's enough to remind me that I should be more careful. I was thinking about this earlier, and I drew out of this experience what I'd like to call the parable of the flame. 

Deep within each of us there is a flame. It can either be very good, or it can be bad. This is the flame of our passions, or our desires. As we feed this flame it gets bigger! And naturally the bigger the fire the more it consumes. It begins to roar and be rather impressive. The more we feed this fire the more it takes on its own. This can be applied in two senses. It can be either the fire of our faith which starts of small, but the bigger it gets the faster it grows, like the mustard trees. It can be the fire of our passions, which needs to be a controlled burn. But just like I tampered with the lighter to create a torch, tampering with our inner fire can lead us to be burned as well. If we want to have a roaring bonfire of faith but we cheat rather than doing the necessary steps of prayer and scripture study and pour gasoline all over it, it might get big fast but it'll burn out. And if we're stupid, we'll probably get burned. 

Alright, what else should I report on... So Hxxxx ended up texting us and saying she doesn't want to meet anymore. I hate it when people feed our investigators anti stuff. Everything that is not understood or that puts the church in a bad light is explainable! Sometimes the act of faith that is required of us is as simple as having an open heart and looking at the correct sources. That's why we have the scriptures! That's what prayer is for.

Back to my week. We did community service this week! It's good to see people rallying around and helping God's children. We were sorting supplies to send down to Syria. So many people here are against helping the people there, and it's hard to see. But it was great to be able to work around people of other faiths practicing true Christianity and serving God's children. 

Well that's all from me I think. Thanks for being fantastic!
Love, Elder Olsen
I clean!

Monday, February 8, 2016

2 Carlisle #3

Hey people! 

As always, thank you for your letters! I want you to know of the love that I have for each of you. I'm grateful to have such an amazing support network, it's blessed me so much to have you all there. And I love your letters! It makes me so happy to hear about how all of you are doing, the good times and the not so good, it's a reminder that life goes on! Anyways, on to my week! 
I got bit by a dog on Friday. Like always, it only happened because of my carelessness. And because the dog is vicious. I went to pet it and the vile monster snapped at my hand, catching me in its iron grip and drawing blood. I guess that's why you don't pet shih-tzu's. 
We had a pretty good week. I'm very pleased with it. It was one of those weeks that I could look back on and see the miracles. The hand of God is becoming more and more clear to me and the Lord is hastening his work! I have several examples of this I'd like to share this week, and the first one is probably evidence enough for those of you who have been paying attention to my letters. The story begins back in Wigan, and I won't go to deep into it, but basically we were teaching a Jewish man named Gxxxxxx. It was interesting teaching a Jew, he had some strange ideas about certain points, but about a week before I left his progression shot through the roof! And then this last week, like 2 days ago he was baptised! I'm really happy about that and even though I wasn't able to be at his baptism I'm glad I was able to be involved in his teaching!
The pictures that I've attached are from last Monday. We went to a river and skipped stones and had a photo shoot. It's so difficult only being able to take pictures on P-day. It makes you want to take so many! But it was fun pretending to be male models so I can't complain. We had a good time and now I actually have some pics to send! We were denied access to a castle though. The purpose of the exhibition was to see the castle, but it turns out that someone actually lives in it, so we were denied access to it. But we tracted it and tried to place a Book of Mormon! 
This week we taught a new investigator named Hxxxx. Wow! That was a super spiritual lesson. She has a 6 year old daughter so Hxxxx left the TV on and just muted it, but at one point when I was bearing my testimony and talking about my conversion to the gospel she turned the TV off because she wanted to feel the spirit stronger. I've never been in a more powerful lesson. The Lord is preparing more and more people, or else I have just reached a point where I have the faith to find them, I don't know. But I do know that Elder Kxxxxxx and I have been entrusted with some incredible people to teach. We're teaching Hxxxx again and I've never looked forward so much to a lesson. She'll be a kingdom builder. 
We had a similar experience with a lady named Kxxxxx. She describes herself as a skeptic, but when we taught her and bore testimony she describe the feelings of the Holy Ghost exactly. She's another one who is being given experience and having her prayers answered. This work is true. The last days are nigh and it's such a privilege to be involved in this glorious work. The opposition is good, but God is better. It is my prayer that when my Savior comes I will be prepared to meet him. That he will have no trouble recognising me. I want my banner to be clear. 
Well this email has turned out to be super long. Long for me anyway, so I'll wrap it up here. You can choose which of those stories is the one every missionary wants, I think all of them work! 
Thanks for reading! Spot on.
Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, February 1, 2016

2 Carlisle #2

Hello Hello!
It's been another great week in wet windy north Cumbria. One quirky little thing about the British is that the weather is one of the biggest topics of conversation. It's very different from back home where it's a joke to talk about the weather, a topic that you only go into if you're extremely desperate. Here anyone will talk about the weather. Probably because it's shocking if the weather stays the same for more than 3 hours... So staying true to my English roots I'll talk about the weather! We have to walk across a bridge over a river every morning and the water level is still quite high from the floods a few weeks ago. This week it rained a lot and was super windy but me and my scarf survived everything just fine. I think we've had most of the bad stuff so this coming week should be a bit better weather wise. 

This week we had the great opportunity to go to the temple! I am so blessed to have a temple within the mission boundaries. President Ulrich challenged us a few months ago to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and if we did we could go to the temple. So our first stop was the baptistry! After going through and doing baptisms and confirmations for several people it was time for our group to move on, but the group that followed after us was a group of about 25 sisters and they didn't have enough temple workers so Elder Kxxxxxx and I were asked to stay and help with them. I wasn't going to say no to spending more time in the temple so I jumped at that opportunity! When we finished with all of that we did a session and then headed home! So we didn't have the chance to do any proselyting that day, but man, it was so good to be able too spend time in the temple. I was dead exhausted going in, but I've felt so renewed since then. It really is the house of the Lord. I love it there! 

As fare as the mortal missionary work goes, it's been a pretty good week! We've kept busy and we're doing some strong work. Unfortunately our two most progressing investigators dropped us this week. Tithing is a big issue for a lot of people. It's a trial of faith but it just takes doing it to be able to understand the blessing that come from it! So that's a bummer, we have a lot of other people that we're just getting started with. People that we've found and we just need to start the process. I don't think I'm a very good teacher, but I can find a lot of people. Elder Kxxxxxx is a good teacher though,, so it works out pretty well. We have a good companionship, our strengths compliment each other nicely so it makes it a good experience. 

I'm not quite sure what it is about Carlisle, but both times I've been here our investigator pool has been about 80% middle aged single women. We started teaching one about family history, and it made me very grateful for the repeated training we were given on it back in Priest Quorum. I've trained every one of my companions on how to do it and this week we taught a Scottish lady about doing her work. I love the work of family history, and though I'm not a miracle worker at it, it's worth it to try. I miss the times on my mission when we were allowed to take an hour a week to do family history. So it was nice to talk to this lady about it. 

We're also teaching another lady called Jxxxxxx. She's full of questions and always wants to know why. Why is it that it's that way? Why does God do that? It's helped me a lot with my own beliefs, because there is something different about explaining it to someone. It makes things clearer in my own mind and helps things make sense. That's probably one of the greatest blessings that has come to me over the course of my mission. A greater understanding of the great plan of God. 

I love you all and I'm grateful for the prayers for me and the other missionaries. 

Elder Olsen
Pics, my companion.