Monday, July 18, 2016

The End....

Elders with Bryce!
Bryce's Baptism Day!

Hello everyone and happy Monday!! I hope you all had an amazing week. We definitely did - luckily we stayed busy so that made the week seem a lot faster! We actually had a ton more lessons this week than the previous weeks, so that was great! And we definitely saw some amazing miracles come out of it!!

Monday Night was pretty awesome. We stopped by to visit De-Jaun (from a part member family) and set a baptismal date with him. It's actually going to be this Wednesday the 20th!!! So that's another blessing before I leave! Other than that it was a normal Monday. It's funny though - I look forward to Mondays, but I also don't this week because I love the missionaries in the zone and I really don't wanna say goodbye..

On Wednesday we met with our investigator Jackie and set a baptismal date with her for August 14th!!! She is SUPER excited for it too. And we had our baptismal interview for Marie and she passed! She wanted us to be there in attendance so we are holding the baptism the 24th HAHA! It is awesome though! Jackie and Marie are so prepared for the gospel it's crazy! They are super solid. Marie even said (when we taught the Plan of Salvation) "my grandma always raised me saying there was more to life than just being here, dying, and being placed in Heaven or Hell. God loves us WAY more than that!" It's been amazing being able to be part of their teaching process and to see the progress they have made as well!

The rest of the week was just a lot more teaching and finding. We did do a temple tour with Bryce, and Elder Creer was there doing baptisms with a few of my recent converts in Lake Placid! I wasn't able to see them sadly.. But it's all alright!:) Bryce loved the Temple and it was perfect timing because yesterday HE GOT BAPTIZED!!! WOO! It was a GREAT turnout from the ward, with tons of support! President Clark even told me (because I had a temple recommend interview) that this area is on fire and he is very proud of our diligence in the work! But to explain a little more, I had to get a new recommend because Aynn from Sumterville called me and said she is going through the temple on Thursday! So I got permission to go through with her. YAY! It'll be great to see one of my converts go through the temple and to actually be there with them!

Well.... Phew... That was the week...lots and lots of excitement! I'm trying to keep this fairly short and all, since well.. I will see you guys in 7 days! But I wanted to share one thing real quick. I have been thinking about and wanting to share this. This has been something that has changed the course of my mission among a lot of other things. Of course the Atonement and learning what Faith truly is has played a huge role, but so has Service. One of my new found favorite quotes is - "The key to our success and happiness was to love them while we served them." For the entire duration of my mission I have been like the scripture states in Mosiah 2:17 "...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." I have served my Heavenly Father by serving His children. That has been such a heart changer in my mission. I have come into contact with those strangers and immediately have a desire to help them, to serve them, and to bring them the happiness of the gospel. It's remarkable to see the transformation service can have on a soul.. Theirs and mine!

President Henry B. Eyring has an amazing quote that goes along with that! "By helping others come unto Him, you will find you have come unto Him yourself." There is so much about this topic I could say. It has transformed and changed my mission, my love for the gospel, and my life. Ultimately, service is the best thing you could give anyone, whether that be service temporally or spiritually.. This is my favorite quote, I've been waiting months for the right time
I felt to share it.  

PRESIDENT UCHTDORF: "Brothers and sisters, we each have a covenant responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of others and serve as the Savior did--to reach out, bless, and uplift those around us. Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own." (Waiting on the Road to Damascus). I know that as we serve those we do find those answers and we draw ever closer to our Father in Heaven. I can promise we find TRUE happiness when we serve others, and ultimately serve our God. I can promise you can see and witness those same things too - because I've seen it in my life. I've had the privilege to partake of small things that can have a large impact. --this video has helped change my view on so many things, it's a CES Devo. So its roughly an hour. But WELL worth it, I've seen it help lots of people.

I am so grateful for you all, and the constant love and support you have been for me while I've been here in the Promised Land of Florida. I love and appreciate it so very much. There are no words to even describe the feelings of love I've received on this journey. You guys are amazing! I also would like to thank my companions for their support, and all I've learned from them. I'm humbled to have had the privilege of being companions with you guys! I Love y'all. And of course I'm so lucky to have served in the areas I have, to help serve the people I have and to meet all the wonderful folks that have changed my life! Again, thank you ALL for everything. This has been such a defining moment in my life and I will forever be changed because of it. I'm thankful to my Heavenly Father for the blessings, and experiences I've had, and for the love He has extended. I am Also grateful for my Savior and the opportunity I have had to teach about His ministry, life, death, resurrection, and redemption that we receive of. I'm grateful for His sacrifice and the opportunity we have in this life to learn of and look to Him to find that everlasting life coupled with eternal bliss.

* Elder Cheung (MTC)
* Elder Cooper (trainer - 2 Transfers)>DeLand
* Elder Cotton (1 transfer)>DeLand
* Elder Davis (1 transfer)>Ocoee
* Elder Walker (3 transfers)>Ocoee
* Elder Uber (3 transfers)>Sumterville
* Elder Thompson (trainee - 2 transfers)>Sumterville
* Elder Anderson (1 transfer)>Melbourne
* Elder Bravo (1 Week)>Melbourne
* Elder Davis~Again (2 transfers)>Sebring
* Elder Rowley (1 transfer)>Lake Placid
* Elder Creer (1 transfer)>Lake Placid
* Elder Ashworth (1 transfer)>Ocoee
* Elder Hernandez (1 transfer)>Ocoee

Areas Served In
- DeLand (4 months)
- Ocoee (7 months)
- Sumterville (6 months)
- Melbourne (1 month)
- Sebring (3 months)
- Lake Placid (3 months)

I love you all!

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, July 11, 2016

Final Few

A reflection back to the start.  Here is Alex's with his trainer, Elder Cooper.

My dear brothers and sisters, I will first off apologize for the complete novels these next 2 emails are going to be. This last week has just contained a lot of lessons learned, miracles, and reflecting. And being that I am down to my last 2 emails (this one and the next) they might have some length to them!

This week definitely had its ups and downs. We saw some miracles and had some disappointments. We found a kid named Nam recently, and we were working hard with him. We had him on a baptism date for the 24th of July. And when we came back for another lesson his mom let us in, but he bailed out of his bedroom window and disappeared! It was kinda sad, because this kid really needs the gospel to help keep him out of trouble - but because of that we had the miracle of his mom and his grandma coming to church today! They skipped their church and attended all 3 hours! So we are going to start teaching them!

We also had Sarah and her son Josh come with us to do temple service this week, which was great! They loved it, and they were surrounded by like 30 missionaries, and got to help the temple out. And probably the biggest miracle, is we have been slowly working with an investigator named Marie. She is good friends with some members and has been taught all of the lessons previously.. Well.. She called us this week randomly and said she wanted to be baptized! So we are working with her and set another date for the 24th because she wants us to take part in the program before we leave!

A few weeks ago we knocked on a random door and found a girl named May. She wasn't interested In the gospel, mainly because she was hungover from the previous night - but she told us where her mom lived and that she was a Mormon! We finally caught her mom home this week, and to our surprise, her daughter ran away from home and they have been searching for her for 5 weeks. They had even filed a missing persons report! So we gave the address then told them what we could. We have no clue what happened, but it was just a wild experience helping find a missing runaway child. haha!

Last night we had a sweet BYU fireside, with a few players and the head coach. We took another of our investigators named Jackie to it, she loved it! It was a very interesting and spiritual meeting, with a lot of good quotes and stories, but I'll most likely save those for another time to share. This entire week I've been battling out in my mind what to share, I feel the sense of urgency to share these messages especially as I near the end. And this is what I have for the week:

This is a story from Randall L. Ridd - "I learned the importance of real intent when I was a young seminary student. Our teacher challenged us to read the Book of Mormon. To keep track of our progress, he created a chart with our names down one side and the books in the Book of Mormon across the top. Each time we read a book, he placed a star by our name. At first I didn’t put much effort into reading, and it wasn’t long before I found myself getting further and further behind. Spurred by a sense of embarrassment and my innate competitive spirit, I started reading. Every time I got a star, I felt good. And the more stars I got, the more motivated I was to read--between classes, after school, during every spare minute. This would be a great story if I could tell you that as a result of my efforts I finished first in the class--but I didn’t. And that would be OK if I could tell you that I got something better than first place--a testimony of the Book of Mormon. But that didn’t happen either. I didn’t get a testimony. I got stars. I only got stars because that was why I was reading. That was my “real intent.”

What is our real intent in this life? Are we those who just do it for the stars, or do we have a desire and motivation to act behind our intent? I think intent consists of a few things, 1-Desire 2-Believing 3-Effort 4-Action on what's received. Our real intent in this life should be to follow the paths and ways that our Savior walked -to do as He did, To learn of Him, to look to Him, and most importantly follow Him. It reminds me of a quote from the April 1974 conference:

"As you and I walk the pathway Jesus walked, let us listen for the sound of sandaled feet. Let us reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. Then we shall come to know him. He may come to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside he came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words, “… follow thou me …” (John 21:22), and sets us to the task which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands, and to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in his fellowship; and they shall learn in their own experience who He is. We discover He is more than the babe in Bethlehem, more than the carpenter’s son, more than the greatest teacher ever to live. We come to know Him as the Son of God. He never fashioned a statue, painted a picture, wrote a poem, or led an army. He never wore a crown or held a scepter or threw around his shoulder a purple robe. His forgiveness was unbounded, His patience inexhaustible, His courage without limit. Jesus changed men. He changed their habits, their opinions, their ambitions. He changed their tempers, their dispositions, their natures. He changed men’s hearts" -Thomas S. Monson

Let us have the real intent to do what we need to find and follow our Savior Jesus Christ. Let us strive to reach out and learn of Him and His saving gospel.

Thanks for all the support and love everyone! You guys are amazing! I
appreciate the help everyone has been since I've been on my mission and am excited (yet depressed) to be down to my last two weeks on my mission.
Thanks again for the love. have a great week everyone!

-Elder A. Olson

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

My Companions

Another week down, and like 3 more to go!! This week has been a total blur honestly. It's just seemed all jumbled together, but we did see a lot of great things happen with lots of success in the Pine Hills area!:)

We kicked off the week in such a amazing way. We had the opportunity to go and do temple service for the grounds of the Orlando Temple while they are closed for repairs and cleaning. And I got to do the coolest job ever, staining the cement driveway! It was ridiculously hot, but well worth the hard work. Basically there were like 14 of us with paint rollers painting the ground haha! It seemed to improve the look of the grounds to make that divine house even more gorgeous. Mainly this week was just full of lessons, and lots of service. We mowed a few lawns, helped clean a few houses and gave some blessings. It was a great week for some good hard work!

Also this week we had a pretty wild few lessons. We seemed to have lessons with a lot of people wanting to "Bible Bash" with us.. One thing I've learned on the mission is that the spirit never dwells with contention, so bashes never go anywhere. So we experienced a lot of that this week. I've just become bold throughout the mission. I used to try and throw a smack-down on them, but what I've found to really stop to bear a heartfelt and genuine testimony. People can't deny something you know. Those words are powerful "I KNOW" Even if they try to dismantle you, it's YOUR testimony. What is said shouldn't change what you truly believe. 'We also knocked on a less active member's house I used to teach. He just went through a divorce and has apparently been super depressed. So we tried to visit like everyday with no success, and we got worried. None of his neighbors had seen him, the house never changed, his truck never moved, and the only thing we could tell from his house was the bathroom light was always on. And that was the only light on...For days! So we kinda panicked because we were worried, but thankfully, before calling the cops, we knocked on his door one more time and he answered!!! Phew. It was a good visit too!:)

Other than that we have just had a ton of lessons and are working with a lot of investigators and less actives! Bryce is still set and excited for July 17th for his baptism, plus we are meeting with another kid named Deshawn and going to set a date with him as well on WednesdayWe also were knocking doors on Sunday and ran into a guy named Nam, who met with missionaries in the past. We set a potential date for July 24th with him as well! So we are seeing lots of great things happening in Ocoee! It's been a huge blessing to be back!

I wanted to tell you all something, which is probably one of the biggest lessons I've learned since I've been on a mission - Heavenly Father really does love us for our intrinsic values as his children. He does not love us because of our strengths, our weaknesses, or because of anything we do or don't do. It's not something we deserve. And it's not something we earn... It just is and will always be there for us. Our Heavenly Father's love never vanishes. His ultimate love is incomprehensible, but I know and can testify with absolute surety that it is there, that He is there, willing to send forth His loving Son, our Savior, who allows us to press on, continue in Hope, partake of redemption, and return to the presence of Him who created us.. There is nothing more loving than creating this plan for us, then sending His Son, a perfect Son, and watching His suffering for the temptations, flaws, and pains of the rest of his children.

Psalms 116:8 - "For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes
from tears, and my feet from falling."

Thanks for everything everyone! I hope you had a splendid Independence Day! God Bless this Country and all the blessings we receive from it! I love and miss you all! Have a great week this week!

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, June 27, 2016


We had quite the wild week back here in Pine Hills!! So obviously the week started off saying goodbye to lots of members Monday night. It was super difficult to leave that area, not to mention, I had to say goodbye to two separate areas, Sebring and Lake Placid members.  Being that they were so close I didn't say goodbye the previous transfer when I left Sebring for Lake Placid. But luckily I have good relationships with people there so I will definitely come back and visit them!

Then Tuesday was quite the adventure getting up bright and early to head into Orlando!! I ended up seeing a lot of my mission friends and previous companions that were flying home the next day! So that was awesome, and then met my new companion, Elder Ashworth, there! He's a solid kid, so we have had a blast of a first week! We don't know what's going to happen to the area though, because Elder Ashworth and I fly home early together! It's super cool being with him though. He's been my Zone Leader in the past and we've always got along great! It was super weird though, my first day back in the Ole' stopping grounds was so fun. We actually got to go see my recent convert Kedicia!! And to make it even better, we are teaching her step-son who is 10 and trying to work with her husband! And her son is on track to be baptized on July 16!!

Wednesday we went and did a huge zone-wide volunteering for a Local Food Bank called Second Harvest, so that actually took up most of our day. It was like 4-5 hours long. But after that, we just visited other less actives and current investigators we are working with. Still..Super weird to see some familiar faces!

Thursday was a fairly normal day, just lots of lessons. Nothing too extreme went down! Friday was pretty fun though. We had our usual time set apart for weekly planning.. Then at the end of the night we had a temple tour with our investigator Sarah! Her, her husband and two kids have been investigating the church, and actually have been attending the church in Texas for about 2 years. Only Sarah could go, but we had a good time at the temple and she felt really good about it! So we are just continuing to work with her. She knows it's right. And we are just waiting until she is ready basically!

Saturday was a totally wild day. We got a call Friday night saying there was a car accident involving a few missionaries and were both okay. Long story short, one Elder needed to be Emergency transferred to a new area, so President Berry called and asked if we could take in another companion! His name is Elder Hernandez, from Orem Ut. And let me tell you, this kid is a RIOT! He's stinking hilarious! We will have him until we leave, which is AWESOME! So it has pretty much been a fun time so far! Lovin' being back here!

1 Corinthians 10:13 says: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." As we go through trials we often ask "why me?" But as we apply the Atonement and sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. It's easy to look at his pain, suffering, and temptation. He faced the ultimate burden for the children of men! As we go through trials and face the obstacles of temptation, I pray that we turn to our Heavenly Father. God does not give us more than we can bear. As we go through trials make we look ahead and think of the growth possible through the hard times we may face!

Thanks everyone, I'm super excited and nervous to have one month left. I appreciate all the love and support offered! Y'all are the best! Love and miss you guys!

-Elder A. Olson

Dragon Ball Z Car!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Old Stomping Ground

Elder's at Pirate Ship Apartment!!

Two of my favorite people from my mission!!

Departing Missionaries Last Temple Trip with President & Sister Berry.

Good Morning everyone, hope you had an amazing week this last week. I heard that Orlando has been in the news a lot recently. Please pray for those troubled in this area! Lake Placid was pretty awesome. Although...I realized, I didn't spend much time in Lake Placid this week hahah! I'll tell you what went down.

The beginning of the week was pretty average, and nothing too out of the ordinary really and we just had some solid lessons. Thursday was a big day for us. We had district meeting, apartment checks, and then right after at I went and had a day exchange with Elder Bravo, in Sebring. So we had a fun time visiting a bunch of people from my old area, and his current area! Then after dinner, we ended up driving to St. Cloud and stayed in a notorious apartment named the "Pirate Ship" with Elder Davis and Elder DeMille, because the next morning, Friday morning we had the departing temple trip for the missionaries leaving soon!!! WOOHOO!

That was an amazing temple trip! It was so amazing to be in the temple one last time before I leave Florida. And to make it even more special, it was President and Sister Berrys final temple trip as well! It was a very spiritual, and wonderful experience to spend that time with them, in the temple, and to hear their testimonies at the end of the day!! I'm grateful for them, and all their hard work, help, love and the influence they have been on me in my mission!! After we just chilled in Orlando for some time, waiting for interviews with President for those leaving tomorrow. So we went out to eat, and I got to go visit Elder Rowley!!

Saturday was just a super weird day. We waited for transfer calls and visited a few people in the meantime. And well... The transfer news came in!.... I'll be leaving Lake Placid. I'm pretty bummed about it. I kinda didn't want to leave for my last few weeks,BUT there is some interesting news concerning transfers! IM GOING BACK TO OCOEE SOUTH!!! YAY! So yeah, I'm going back to my old stomping grounds and that should be way interesting. PLUS my companion will be Elder Ashworth, who leaves the same day I do. It should be a SOLID few weeks though. It's going to FLY!

So that's the week! I've just been saying my goodbyes and getting ready for the transfer starting tomorrow. 

Here is a quick quote I found this week from President Kimball: Spencer W. Kimball, emphasized the need to continually read and study the scriptures. He said: ‘I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 67]”

Thanks everyone for all you do!!! I appreciate all the love and support. I Love you all and miss you all! Have a great week!:)

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, June 13, 2016

Final Six Weeks

Well... Another week gone in Lake Placid! It's been quite the good week, well, For the most part! The week started off pretty wild with a tropical storm warning. Lake Placid ended up getting quite a bit of rain, but nothing too bad! We were asked to retire to our apartments early so we avoided most of the storm!

We also had a Zone Training Meeting on Wednesday all the way out in Vero Beach again, which was really good. I only have one more, and with transfers coming up I was excited to go and say goodbye to most of those people, since I might not see them again before I leave. So it was a good little trip with a pretty spiritual and awesome meeting attached! The mission is also doing a "fast food fast" for a month. So normally we would go grab food, since it's another 2 hour drive home, But because of the fast we went to the Zone Leaders apartments and ate some French Toast.

This week we had a lot of people not answer their door, so we ended up doing a bit of finding.. We were in a particular area and decided to stop by a member's home, who we have never met or heard of really. He was surprisingly really nice, and as we sat in his home, talking with him it was so strange. He has been married to his wife of another faith for 30 years, who doesn't really approve of the Latter-Day Saints. He has a rock solid testimony that the church is true because of experiences in his life, however, he voiced he is worried about his relationship, which is understandable. I just think the craziest thing about it all is the fact that he recognizes the hindrance in his life. He hasn't even prayed or tried to read scriptures In those 30 years.. We asked him to pray, once a day and he started weeping, saying he knows that eternity is on the line, but he is literally scared to pray because he KNOWS what the answer will be.. He KNOWS God will answer him.. His faith is so strong, and it's the action on that faith we are trying to work with him on.

We also has a GREAT lesson with an investigator of ours this week. His name is Joe. He is a young and VERY solid guy. He attended LDS services before, while in the military, and enjoyed it very much! We taught the restoration to him and he loved it!! We also set Neil on a new baptismal date for July 16th!! He is still working hard and loving the visits! He's a great man! And we set a baptismal date with our investigator Patrick as well! So that one will be held July 23rd!! WOOHOO! President Berry emailed us and said he was proud of the work that has happened in this area, since it's been a part of Orlando Mission! you are all aware, there was a crazy incident that happened in Orlando. It is very saddening.. I ask you pray for those in Orlando that peace will ensue after this attack. It was really just down the road from where I served in Ocoee..

Thank you all! Love and miss you! Have a great week!:)  Here is a spiritual thought for the week.

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, June 6, 2016

Lake Placid Livin'

Another great week in Lake Placid!! It was quite the adventure this week and it seemed to go fairly quick too! We started out the week with an exchange on Tuesday/Wednesday.  And was a little different. I was with a missionary who hasn't been out very long, and he basically just throws down on everyone he teaches and usually brings up unnecessary topics.. He totally bashed one of our investigators, abandoning the lesson we were supposed to teach.. It was a good exchange regardless, we had lots of lessons, and got in contact with lots of cool people! It was just a HUGE stress to the week this week. But that could potentially be my last exchange on the mission!

We have continued to work with Neil and our other fellow investigators. We had a good lesson with one named Patrick and his roommate. They had lots of questions about the Plan of Salvation. It was cool to see how peaceful the gospel is to people. They were so uneasy about the concept of heaven and hell. After we explained our beliefs regarding after mortality, their entire attitude switched, so they are showing some interest!

There is apparently a pretty big tropical storm coming into Florida today, so we are expecting some flooding, according to what the news said.. And if not, just lots and lots of rain!! I'm sure it'll be worse closer to Tampa area. Also, sorry if this emails later than usual. We went bowling today with some of the youth in our church and their friends, so that was a blast! Also, Thursday we were invited to a Sebring ward's graduation party, So that was super fun. we talked to a lot of non-members there and partied.

We had a super solid day yesterday at church. It was definitely one of the most spiritual meetings I've ever been to! It was great, plus we had a great turnout with roughly 50 people attending the branch! We had a less active come who hasn't been in like 30 years, then we had U'quayzia (our recent convert) bring her friend TaLazarus to church, and she seemed interested, kinda. So we will hopefully start teaching her as well!!

Sorry this emails fairly bland, not much seemed to happen this week because we just jumped from appointment to appointment to knocking doors it seemed.. But I do have a few quotes to share.

"True, enduring happiness, with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the greatest difficulties, will come as you center your life in Jesus Christ." —Richard G. Scott, 
"The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness" 

"There will be days ... when your hearts are heavy and your heads hang down. Then, please remember, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the Head of this Church. It is His gospel. He wants you to succeed. He gave His life for just this purpose."
—Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?"

"Someone has written, “Love is a verb.” It requires doing—not just saying and thinking. The test is in what one does, how one acts, for love is conveyed in word and deed." —David B. Haight, "Love All"

Hope you all have a fantastic week this week!! I now have less than 50 days!!! Phew...crazy! Thanks for all the love and support, talk to y'all soon!

-Elder A. Olson