Monday, April 25, 2016

2 Carlilse #14

Good morning everyone!
I want to start this letter out with how much I love serving in the EMM. I know that the Lord tailors all of our circumstances for us individually, and that is such a blessing. We had a great experience this week that really helped us to understand how much the Lord loves us and wants what's best for us.

Working with Rxxxxx has been very enlightening for me. She has taught me things and has been such a great listener. She's one of the best people I've worked with on my mission as far as a teaching environment. I look forward to every lesson with a nervous anticipation. This week we had a lesson scheduled with her but our member friend that we were planning on going with had to cancel on us. We felt like we should go ahead with the lesson anyway, but we really wanted this member couple to become friends with Rxxxxx, so we rescheduled for the next day. Unfortunately Rxxxxx had some issues come up and had to cancel that appointment so we rescheduled for after church a few days later (she wasn't able to make it to church either). 30 minutes before our lesson was to begin our member friends once again had to cancel. We called around franticly, trying to get someone to come with us, but call after call was either a no or no answer. But with just a few moments to go we found a different number for our branch president! And he saved the day! Not only did his presence allow us to go in and teach her, but he made such a difference in the lesson. He added some great input and taught very naturally with us. Because of some of the things that had happened earlier in the week, she was going to drop us, but because of the testimony of the Carlisle Branch President she is looking forward to another visit with us!

Heavenly Father has really prepared people, and they are coming! We made a mistake not going to Rxxxxx's on our original appointment. We don't know, but the conflicts the next day may never have happened! But God wants her to succeed so He prepared everything so that Rxxxxx could have the best experience for her on Sunday night. It was amazing.

We found several new people this week who I'm excited for. We also had a referral come in that we had to contact. So we called the phone number and scheduled an appointment! It looked like it was going to be a golden referral! We had a bit of a surprise when we put the address into the GPS. He lives in a little village called Keld, population, probably about 25. This village (if it's worthy to be called a village, hamlet might be a better word) consisted of 1 street. It was a nice drive 45 minute drive in the countryside on a beautiful day. But, when we got there, the person who had been referred to us had no idea what was going on and had no interest, it was just a prank from one of his mate. Disappointing, but we had a beautiful drive anyway.

It was a week of testing for us! We had 11 investigator appointments fall through on us. We showed up to all of them, but they weren't in for any of them! So again, disappointing, but it gave us an opportunity to do more finding! And we took advantage of that time, we put in a lot of hours of knocking doors this week.

I think that's it from me today! Thanks for the emails and prayers!

Love, Elder Olsen

Driving on the wrong side!
Tracting in Keld
2 ways, 60 mph speed limit, I went like 30

Monday, April 18, 2016

2 Carlisle #13

Hello Everyone!
This week has been absolutely crazy. It's been so busy and lots of fun! Emailing last week was pretty much a fiasco, P day had been moved to Tuesday, and we had transfers that day as well. So I had to drive 3 hours to Manchester and 3 hours back. But it was good. 
Elder Pxxxxxx and I are getting along well. We've had lots of laughs and worked hard, when we had time to work. Wednesday was really good, we went out and tracted for about 5 hours., and met some really good people. One lady, Axxxx, had been to the Temple open house 20ish years ago and was  good friends with one of our branch members! This member had invited her to several activities over the years, and Axxxx had gone! But she describes herself as a doubting Thomas. Sometimes I want to grab people by the shoulders and shake them until they accept what we say! We're pretty sure that Axxxx knows that the Gospel is true, she described a powerful experience that she'd had where she had felt the spirit at the temple. But people are so skeptical!

One Friday there was a joint mission leadership council with district leaders in Manchester, so we drove to Lancaster on Thursday night and spent the night with the zone leaders so we didn't have to wake up super early to get to Manchester. MLC was super good! I was really happy to be able to be there and be involved in the discussions to help the mission. We were able to all get on the same page to help us move the work forward in unity.

On the way back from that we stopped in Lancaster to pick up Elder Pxxxxxx who had been on a split while I'd gone with his companion to the meeting. We picked him up and took him to the Lancaster flat so he could pick up the rest of his stuff, and as he ran in he slipped and slammed into a pole! It was super funny to watch, but I felt bad the next morning sitting in the emergency room. Elder Pxxxxxx cracked his sternum.

So that slowed us down a bit, but we were able to get a mileage extension on the car, because it hurts Elder Pxxxxxx to breath. Finding is still going really well, we found 6 new investigators last week, and that's with spending 2 full days outside of our area! We met an artist, and he gave each of us a piece of his art, so now I have a snow leopard on my study desk!

On Saturday morning a text came in from our branch mission leader saying that his wife had set up an appointment for us for that afternoon! Luckily we were able to make it out of the hospital in enough time to make it there. We had a lovely visit with Nxxxxxx and talked to her a lot about prayer. The next day at church the member came up to us saying how much Nxxxxxx had liked our visit! So we have a really good recipe for success with this family!

Well I think that's it for me today! Thanks for all your emails!

Love, Elder Olsen!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2 Carlisle #12

Hello everyone!
It's been a great week. Prayers do get answered and miracles do happen. I can hardly type fast enough! I just want to tell you everything!

I'll start this letter off with the beginning. After emailing we got a call from the AP's letting us know that they would be coming to work with us that evening and go to our district meeting on Tuesday as well! Elder Nxxxxx (shout out Cache Valley) worked with us and his companion worked with the other Elders. It was so good! I was really pleased to be able to work with him, and he brought lots of energy that we had frankly lost. 
District meeting happened. I'm still district leader this transfer so it must have been ok. After that we had to wait until the fuel was syphoned out, someone put the wrong fuel in the car. When that was finally done I drove to Lancaster! I drove! It was great! We had an exchange with the zone leaders, I was with Elder Nxxxxx, who is a fireball! It was really good exchange! We went finding for most of it, and I was able to learn a lot. I struggle with being myself around people that I don't know, and the exchange helped me to find ways to get over that.  After the exchange we drove out to Barrow, and I conducted a baptismal interview for a 15 year old girl. She passed. After that we embarked on a difficult drive through the Lake District. Narrow roads and sleet made the journey interesting, but I was loving every minute! It was amazing to be driving through one of the most beautiful parts of the world listening to general conference. It was a great day. 
Thursday was one of the best days ever. We had some really good finding, but the best part was our lesson with Rxxxxx. We taught the second half of the Plan of Salvation. It went really well and I felt like we were actually teaching Rxxxxx, not that we were teaching a lesson. During part of the lesson I felt like I was trying to hard on my own and that I needed to trust the spirit more, so I followed a prompting and showed Because of Him, a 3 minute video clip about the Saviour. While that was playing I started praying for Rxxxxx and for us as teachers. After the video the spirit was tangible, and Rxxxxx felt it! She felt it so powerfully, so we invited her to baptism (again)! She said she needs to time to think about it. But it was the most powerful lesson I've ever been in. The spirit did a really good job. I've never taught anyone like Rxxxxx. She just laps it up and is so accepting, but she isn't rash either.

We did a lot of finding on Friday, which went well. With my recommitment to talking with everyone this week I found myself stopping bicyclists, and I even shared a card with a motorcyclist while he was waiting at a red light and I was crossing the street! The book of Proverbs has it right, "the righteous are bold as a lion"! I just loved the Gospel more this week, and that created a natural desire to be better and bolder!

On Saturday we had a branch activity! We watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's performance of Handel's Messiah. So Good! On Friday and Saturday we invited everyone that we spoke to to the activity. And 2 of them showed up! We had a 16 year old young man and his mum come. We later found out that the mum is a less active member, but a practicing Buddhist now. They really enjoyed it! Some of the members recognized her from when she was an active seminary student. She is one of the focuses for the branch now. 
And that brings us around to today! The day of transfers. I will be the Lone Ranger staying in Carlisle! The rest of my crew is leaving me! Elder Sxxxxx and Elder Fxxxxxx are whitewashing out, and they won't be bringing in a replacement companionship. The flat is being shut down leaving 2 of us here! So it's me and my companion Elder Pxxxxxx. He is Danish and has been out for about 8 months. I'm looking forward to serving with him, he's s goofball. 

Well that's a wrap for me! Turrah loves!
Love, Elder Olsen

Monday, April 4, 2016

2 Carlisle #11

Hey Everyone!

I had a horrible week this week! It was miserable and pretty much rotten; manky as they say here in northern England. 
So many things went wrong, nobody wanted to talk, and the worst part is, I was ok with it. I want you to understand, I'm not writing this letter as a confessional, nor am I putting my neck in the chopping block of judgement or scorn. But rather I'm attempting to accurately describe some of the dangers of missionary life and how to avoid the pitfalls. 
I honestly don't know why this week was especially difficult, in reading this it may not seem that it was. Everything about this week was set up for success. It was going to be perfect. I mean, we started the week off by going to the temple! There is no better start to a week than spending time in the house of the Lord. But I took it for granted and let everything slide. 
I think the best way to describe my attitude for the majority of the week is the word shallow. There was no depth to my desire, no depth to my work, and no depth to my prayers or studies. I was obedient, mostly. But I wasn't valiant in my obedience. We were out the door on time, we woke up on time, we didn't come in early, but I gave up on people at the doorstep. The scriptures describe me exactly, "men's hearts shall fail them." This week I took the easy way out, and the result was... nothing. We had no results to account for at the end of each day and the end of the week. I felt disappointed, but I reasoned and rationalized, shifting the blame to other people. They wouldn't have wanted to talk anyway, type thing. 

I don't want to dwell on mistakes that I've made. I'm definitely not perfect, and because of that, I don't particularly enjoy sharing all of this. But if I can help someone learn from my mistakes rather than from their own, I'm all right with that.

I don't want anyone to get caught up in the first part of the email because the next part is the part that matters.

I went into General Conference how I always have. I wanted to learn and to be spiritually edified. And that's what I got! I felt so uplifted and strengthened. What had become dull and monotonous was suddenly exciting and fun! In the conference I learned that I was doing wrong and therefore establishing a bad pattern for my life. I realized that I was the definition of taking the easy way out. But I was also given the tools to overcome it. Heavenly Father in His mercy laid out a plan for me, so that I can overcome myself. I know that I don't have to be bound down by exhaustion anymore. I've given so much on my mission, and I learned how to give more. Not more of myself, but more of my Saviour. I went home on Sunday evening and applied this plan. I invited Christ to revitalize me, It's my testimony that He can do it. He can give us strength beyond my own. I know that I've been blessed with interrupted sleep the last few months so that I could learn how to access the enabling power of grace.

 Blessed are they who are compelled to be humble, but more blessed are they who do not have to be compelled. I learned the hard way. Learn from my mistakes. I promise that the joy and energy that you feel on the other side far outweighs the exhaustion and sorry from before! I feel the song of love in my heart. I feel it. Do you? It is not enough to merely become clean and sanctified by the Atonement. Not in this day and age. Not with the tasks that are ahead of us. We must learn to access the power of heaven in our own lives. I testify of these truths in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

So what now? I am so grateful that I don't have to wonder. My game plan for the next weeks and months is to tear apart the conference talks. Those who gave those talks speak for the Lord. I need His direction. And then I will put it in action! I love this work. 

Here's some pictures as promised!

Lots of Love!
Elder Olsen
Elder Kxx and I at the temple!

the most unhealthy Easter treat... Caramel filled chocolate egg, with cake baked around it, and the whole thing dipped in chocolate. Diabetes.