Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time Flies, Work Continues and Giving Thanks

Hi Everyone!  I seriously can't believe I am halfway through another transfer! When other missionaries told me "after training, time flies" they honestly weren't kidding. Elder Cotton and I are having a way sweet time! It's so strange to think of how much we are getting done and actually having FUN!!! We set up another baptism for early January and picked up 2 new pretty awesome investigators!! The work here in DeLand is so great! We still have a week here and there of nothing happening and then we have weeks of intense work. It makes me really want to stay here through another transfer!

On Sunday I get to confirm our newest member Stacey C. who will be baptized Saturday! I'm pretty excited! Being able to give that amazing gift to people, the gift of the Holy Ghost, is like none other. It's special, sacred, and is a gift that is life long as long as you live worthy of it! It brings great blessings, and guides you like a compass! What a great thing we possess!

DeLand had an art festival kind of like Park City’s but not AS big! It was pretty cool though. People didn't really care what we had to say, sadly, and no drunk girls approached us this time haha!! But no worries! It was a pretty sweet week! The weather is more bipolar here than Utah. It got down into the low 40's with that bone chilling humidity in winter. And today it's like 80 degrees! No snow..sadly...

We got into another rad bible bash Friday night. It was totally hilarious!! Every Friday night these people (out of respect I won't say what religion haha) stand on the corners of Main Street and scream about Jesus and hand out cards and stuff. They always ask "Have You Been Saved?"  We talked to 2 different groups on different corners. Not to be rude, but the first time we just bashed a little back, and kind of dumped on their moods. But they were persistent and kept asking dumb questions! After them we got so sick of the bashing we ended up getting stopped by the next group and said "we just talked for like an hour!!" And just left them with our testimonies and rode off! It was hilarious! It's annoying but funny!

Anyway, I had an awesome message to share, but I'll save it for next week… Because as you all know Thanksgiving is this week. I truly hope you all have an AMAZING holiday. Remember those things you are truly thankful for! I have so much I could say I am thankful for, but for the reader sake I'll keep it fairly short. Haha.

I'm thankful I have this opportunity I'm living now, to serve my Heavenly Father and to bring those who need this Gospel into their lives. Through missionary work, I can help those people become closer to their Creator so they too can feel of this overwhelming love He has for us and bring their families closer together so they can return and live with their families after this life. It's such a blessing to be out here serving my Lord and doing all I can for others. I'm thankful for my family and friends. My support group is the best EVER! YOU are the best ever!! I wouldn't be out here or even be able to function without you guys. All the letters, emails, and prayers towards me! It's amazing...I can feel the blessings and the love. I'm also grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. What He has done for me, you, and everyone. He sacrificed himself so that we can do all we can in this life. We can live a happy and joyful life, and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven again!  And that no matter what we do in this life, they will ALWAYS love us. Our Savior knows EXACTLY what and how we fill. That's comforting to me!

I love and miss you all! And I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, November 17, 2014

Music Festival, Success, Crazy People and Baptisms!!

Elder Cotton, Willie, Trina and Me on their Baptism Day!!

Hi There!  This past week was a busy, crazy and hard week! Hard meaning a lot to do and goals to reach!! We actually got some AWESOME work done and hit our goals…..Well...most of them!  DeLand had a famous "Music Festival" with 150 small bands playing all throughout Main Street so that day alone we hit 56 street contacts, at the end of the week we had 93 contacts, 2 new investigators and 25 lessons!!  MAN!!

So a few crazy things, at that music festival, we had a group of drunk girls recognize we were missionaries (one was a former member apparently) and so they waited until we were done talking to this gentleman and asked for a group picture with us HAHAHA! It was quite hilarious! Then we had a guy try and bash us, saying he despises us. He told us to get a King James Bible and READ it. He didn't know what to say when we told him we do and pulled one out. People trying to bash He wasn't even attending a church! Crazy people!

Elder Cotton and I are doing really well. We teach together AWESOMELY! We have good things in common and have fun doing missionary work. So I'm pretty much having a blast right now!:) The only problem is he is an Elder that not too many people in our district they don't treat us the best haha! Oh well, we're having fun and getting work done! I haven't had to listen to country music ONCE either! WOOHOO!  It's crazy to think that it's also week 3 of this transfer…I might only have 3 left here..

It's also crazy to me to think that Utah is cold and getting SNOW!!! Florida is cooling down a little, in the 60's every once and a while. But everything's still very much green and the Suns still a shining away!:) It's not that bad. If it stayed in the 60's during the summer it would just be perfect! 

Another AMAZING yet crazy thing that happened this week is I actually got to baptize 2 people!! Trina and Willie had their baptism Friday night, and at last minute they asked if I could be the one to baptize them!! YES! It was seriously like one of the coolest things ever. The spirit was so strong and I've never been so nervously excited haha! But everything went smoothly and it all worked out. They had a great time and I'm so proud of them, their decision and how far they have come!!!

Also We set a few more dates with people!!:) We have 4 more lined up by the end of December and maybe 5 after today! I get to confirm our next person being baptized! Stacey has just been waiting MONTHS for her divorce papers to go through so she can be baptized and it worked out! So I'll be confirming her the 30th of this month.  Also Lezs has a date for December 6th. And I might be doing one or the other. It's such a good feeling and makes me happy to see they want and appreciate what WE do and let us be part of that special moment!

I heard a cool quote yesterday and added my own little note into it. Thought I might as well share.

"Light seeks light, Darkness seeks darkness"
Those in light function, work, and strive. Enter into darkness you become comfortable, confused and lost.

I kind of realized that, especially with that guy trying to bash us. He's been dwells in the darkness too long. Just like what was stated in The Restoration, when Joseph Smith saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. "Their lips draw near me, but their hearts are far from me."

I just wish this Gospel was available to everyone, to see the change it has made in me, and everyone else in it. The blessings that are received and the happiness it brings.  I guess that's the true purpose of me serving a mission. To make this available to those who truly seek and need it. I'm so thankful and grateful for this opportunity! It's AMAZING!

President told me once "there will be a point in your mission when you don't want to turn back, when you can't imagine being home because you love this, you love serving, you love the people, and you feel closer to your Father in Heaven than ever before" It's definitely sinking in. Yes I miss home, my family and friends. And I love them. But I also love this gospel, the feelings it gives and being a missionary. 

I love you all and appreciate everything. The prayers directed toward me and this work. It means so much to have such an amazing support group like the one I have. I miss you and can't wait to see how the rest of this mission goes! Hard times WILL come. But just roll with the punches, continue praying and you will have the strength to withstand anything!

-Elder Olson

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Companion, Drive by Shooting, More Baptism Dates and Faith

Missionary life continues to be crazy! I will say being just a regular missionary is nice, training isn't fun. It's strange, when I was training and I would teach, I felt like I was just speaking words. And now that I was taking lead all week because it's my area, I have felt my teaching was so much better!! And I truly focused on the needs of those I taught. I just felt the pressure as a trainee to be perfect. And I didn't feel like I was the most useful missionary, because I knew I wasn't perfect at anything I did.

I got my new companion this week. His names Elder Cotton! He is a wild child which is a good and a bad thing. He's kind of known around the mission for being a crazy outgoing missionary, (and also a disobedient one) I honestly feel like it is a test in my mission, to see how I'm going to handle it. He's NOT that bad though and we get along well and like the same music basically.  He is funny, gets work done and doesn't listen to country music! But I feel like he's going to be a companion that pushes me to see how far I'll go, or how far I'll stretch if that makes sense? But yeah he's actually pretty awesome! And I'm glad we get along and have some fun!!  (can't be too quick to judge:) All I know is it's going to be a crazy 5 more weeks!

We had a pretty successful week! I mean, even with a few days taken out of the week for transfers and such we still got a lot of lessons and contacts. We picked up 2 new investigators. And now have 4 baptismal dates set for November!!! WOOHOO! Trina and Willies baptism is Friday! I'm so excited for them! They've quit smoking and are SO excited to finally be able to be baptized!

Other than transfers, nothing too crazy has been going on over here though. We met a crazy guy that wanted to take us to the "underworld" or something like that. Also there was a drive by shooting yesterday about 5 minutes from our apartment. I guess that's pretty sketchy. The weathers still getting cooler and cooler!! I LOVE it! It's been raining for the last few days. It is still going to be odd not having snow. I thought I would be happy with that. But I miss my Utah snow and mountains!!

We have a big week ahead of us this week, got a lot of big goals to
reach with 20 lessons, 72 contacts and 3 new investigators to get!!! Man this
week is going to be packed! I hope we can do it! I know I've probably talked a lot about this topic in most of my emails, but it's so important to our lives, and it just becomes clearer to me as I continue along! So I wanted to share another little message about Faith.

I had an "Awakening" this week. I had the feeling like my prayers
weren't being answered. I knew in some way they were, but I read and
re-read the First Vision by Joseph Smith. And after having a lesson
and teaching about it, it came to me. I felt like my faith wasn't
sufficient for what I was asking.  I asked, but I didn't quite have the
faith that it would happen. 

Faith is the breaking ground to anything we do. Without faith, nothing
would be. It would be like me giving you a car without a key. Yeah you
have the car, but without the key it's useless and doesn't function.
The same is with Faith. We can pray and ask for anything, but without the
faith we most likely won't recognize it when it's answered.

Just like it says in Ether 12:12 "For if there be no faith among the
children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed
not himself until after their faith." We have to show and express our faith in him, and our faith we will receive.

I'm excited to see how this week goes and also this transfer. I
appreciate all the love and support I receive! You all are the best
and it means so much to me!! I pray for you guys always.
Thank you so much for the prayers directed toward me, this definitely
isn't easy. I struggle at times, but I'm thankful for this opportunity
and all of you! I love and miss you!

-Elder Olson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

20 Lessons, Miracles, Transfers and Halloween.

Hi There! I'm not sure if this week could have gone any better! There were so many miracles placed before us this week. It really just set the perfect way to end this transfer. The last week (week 6) of ANY transfer is always so hard for some reason, but this week was just great! 

First off we started this week out with a district wide goal of 20 lessons this week.  That's about 6 more than we are used to. The crazy thing is, ALL of the companionships made that goal!!! In the process of trying to get so many lessons, we came to the quick conclusion that if we get to that goal, all of our other numbers go up as well!  So basically this week we had a lots of lessons, lots of street contacts, met some great people and got a SOLID new investigator that goes to Stetson named Lezs (Lesh).  He already loves the Book of Mormon!

Also this week we received the transfer call! I am still in DeLand!!! YAY!.. And Elder Cooper is leaving.  It's kind of a sad moment. Although he was a pain at times, we really did get along well and had some good times!! I just hope my next companion is awesome!! Guess I'll find out! But this time I should only have a companion for like 6 weeks at a time, instead of 12. I'm just SOO glad I'm finally done with the 12 week training!

I had exchanges this week with the Elder I took to the hospital up on Daytona Beach!  I met the famous mission wide member everyone calls "grandpa" because he just takes care of all the missionaries. And he is HILARIOUS! It was SWEET! Elder Cushing in my district is DONE. He flies back to Vernal, UT on Wednesday! Man. Crazy!

We definitely saw the miracles from this week though, especially getting those 20 lessons. We set baptismal dates with a few of our investigators, ones we've been working with for 12+ weeks basically!! YAY! We set a day with Shirley, and also with Trina and Willie. Here's a cool little overview of that invitation. Two weeks ago we promised Trina and Willie that if they prayed with a sincere heart, asking for the help to quit smoking, attending church, and reading their scriptures daily, they would not have the desire to smoke anymore and they would be able to quit by November 1st. As of that exact day we set this goal, they haven't smoked!  They threw out all traces of that addiction and never want to turn back! That's all that's keeping them from baptism so they're trying the best they can to not go back!!! :)

It's been great and now it's just going to be weird being the companion that knows everyone and the area better than the other.  Although I won't be senior companion, I'll be the one in charge because I know the area.  Also just a weird added note, our district is getting a tri-companionship apparently?! That will be interesting.

The past few nights the temperature has been going down to the low 50's!!!  Now that I'm used to the Florida’s hot weather, it feels pretty chilly!...But it is MUCH better than the heat.:)  Still there are no leaves changing colors. I guess that won't even happen so I won't get my hopes up. But anywho...Halloween was pretty fun I guess. It felt just like a normal proselyting day…and it was! We just taught some lessons and ate at a member’s house and watched all the kids trick or treat! It's weird that I can remember last year’s Halloween so clearly that it doesn't feel like it was a year ago. How was everyone's Halloween?!

I've shared this scripture a few times this week with people. It's pretty awesome

Mosiah 7:33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in Him, and serve Him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, He will, according to His own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. 

He will do everything he can to help us out. This week was a shining example. We turned to the Lord for all of our teaching, preparation and finding. We wanted to serve those around us. This mission is not about us, but it's about helping those around us. No matter who, whether it’s ward members, family, investigators or random people. If we turn to our Heavenly Father, no matter what we’re facing. great or small, we will be freed from any "bondage" and anything holding us back from what we could become.

Sorry there's no crazy stories..I'll try harder to find some adventure with my new comp. J  I hope all of you are having a GREAT week! Thanks for all you do for me! I appreciate all the support and prayers! You guys are the best! Love and miss you all!!:)


-Elder Olson