Monday, May 30, 2016

Seeing The Fruits of Our Labors

Hey guys! We had a pretty awesome week this week, so I hope you did as well! This week started out pretty crazy with our Zone Conference. We had to get up at 4 a.m and we had to make the long trek all the way to Vero Beach, in order to be there by 7. So not only was the morning long, but that meeting lasted until about 6 p.m. or so! It was a super solid meeting and sadly it was President Berry's final ZC so he said his farewell and how much he has loved it here, serving with, for, and beside us! Also something cool happened while there. We had a senior couple come to our apartment the night before to install something, and during out meeting we got a shout-out from the mission leadership because apparently we have the cleanest apartment that they've seen in over a year! WOOHOO! So that was cool, cause well.. Awkward fact about it is that we didn't bother to clean up but just pick our stuff up after we use it. Simple as that. I didn't think I was THAT clean though and either I'm cleaner than I thought or the rest of the mission are just slobs. hahah!

We were able to see some miracles though!!! We have been doing a TON of finding, and well.. When you go knocking it's cool because that's where you can see and witness how the Spirit guides you to the right people. Elder Creer and I decided to go knocking, and I just drove down a cool looking street, parked on a random side street and we knocked that area. But the street I ended up picking at random was a solid one. They were SUPER nice people and all of the doors ended up being positive, although not everyone was interested. It was hot and I was tired and I didn't want to knock on this particular door. But we did anyway and BAM!!... Joe. He is a SUPER awesome guy, and was so nice! Honestly he seemed interested in learning more after we taught a little! So we have set a rough return appointment and we will see how things go!

We have continued to work with Neil and a few others. A lot aren't progressing though, which is rough cause we can't always keep working with some of them if they deny the change. To choose Christ is to choose change. So we are going to see how they pan out. Neil, on the other hand, is doing well, although not progressing much and now has some problems to work through. But all is well!!

We weren't able to go to the temple this week, sadly. The recent converts cancelled last minute, but no worries. We have plans to go later, early June sometime to see it. Ashanti won't be there, since she moved out for the summer, but it will be a worthwhile trip regardless!

We had a combined Sebring and Lake Placid BBQ at a members home. It was another "bring a friend" thing, so that was great with lots of food, lots of laughs, and met some cool non-members! (All of which are in Sebring) but it's all alright! It was a good time! It makes me excited to do some fun outdoorsy things when I get back to Utah!

I have a quote from Paul H Dunn: I've changed a few words here and
there so it's directed to everyone, not just the men he was speaking

"In life you will stumble a time or two. That is a part of the growing process. The lives of many great people will testify to you that ofttimes they have many failures, and there is no disgrace in falling down; the disgrace is lying there. To get up one more time than you fall is to be a winner. To stay down is to be a loser. Never let fear, discouragement or disappointment keep you down! Get up once more and you'll win, stay down and you'll lose. It's one thing to be born with the ability to succeed, it's another to discipline it and control it, so that you WILL succeed."

Love and miss you guys, have a GREAT week!!

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, May 23, 2016

Season 16: Episode 2

So first off.. To explain the title I'm on transfer 16 - week 2, just to clear up confusion haha! This week was a pretty sweet week! Basically the same usual stuff went down, but it wasn't as stressful so that was nice! We just had another solid week of lessons and meeting some new people, along with getting to know some new faces and we even spent a bit of time knocking doors! We were able to visit some old people I used to teach in Sebring, that now live down here! They have lots of questions about the church, which is good, but we are just trying to see how truly interested they are!

We have continued to work with Neil and he's such a funny and awesome guy! We taught him the principle of prayer and how we can communicate with God. He always thought prayers were memorized and told us he was ashamed he doesn't know any. After teaching him how we pray and how God doesn't want to hear the same words every time he hears from us. He WANTS to hear our struggles and what we need help with, he wants to hear how our day went, he wants to hear what we are thankful for, he just wants us to be us! And so Neil after 87 years said his first prayer!

Also quick, random, kinda gross story about a lesson we had with them this week. We took a member with us, and well... At first they weren't home. The member quickly blurted out "I urgently need to use the restroom" so we made a mad dash for the local Walgreens. He came out looking refreshed and we headed back to see if they were home (which they were). Luckily Neil and Ruth are hard of hearing because out of no where the words uttered from that members mouth were somethings like: "what did I eat to cause such a reaction?" Neil and Ruth didn't catch a word! Phew... It was quite comical!

Anyways, this week we spent a lot of time focusing on less active members and visiting all the ones we don't know or have no information on. So that was great, and doing so actually set us up with some great service opportunities to help families move and such! We did meet some awesome members we've never met before though, and also a lot of them had non member family living there. So we will hopefully continue to meet with those families and help bring the joys of the gospel to them again!

Elder Creer and I also were brainstorming on some ideas for a fun branch activity we could throw. There is an outdoor movie screen on the side of one of the buildings here in Lake Placid, and so we figured we are going to talk to the owner and try to plan a "Bring a Friend BBQ and movie night" and show the new church released movie Meet The Mormons!! So that would be SWEET if it all works out!

We were also able to get lots of pics with the Murals here in the town, so I'll attach some of those pics!! This upcoming week is full of meetings for the zone and stuff like that, so lots of travel and waking up at like 3:30 in the morning so we can make the commute to Zone Conference on time.

Just a few quick quotes I used/found this week from various leaders of the church.

* "Our spiritual stability increases in proportion to the degree to
which we establish Jesus Christ as our foundation."
—Dale G. Renlund,
"Spiritual Stability: Building an Unsinkable Ship", Liahona, April

* "You and I can not only survive but prevail ... in our efforts to
stand for truth in perilous times."
—Susan W. Tanner, "Glad Tidings
from Cumorah"

* "As we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become
better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our
       —David A. Bednar, "The Spirit of Revelation"

* "Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if
you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart."
       —Henry B. Eyring, "This Day"

I love and miss you all!! Have a great week this week. Thanks again as always for the constant support you are to me! It's just been unsettling to think that in 2 short months all this, this amazing journey, comes to a close. Missionary work never stops, but the physical call and full time devotion do. This is the very thing I've come to embrace, live, enjoy, and love doing! It's strange, it's almost like I can't imagine how "normal life" is even going to be like anymore haha! Anywho, have a fantastic week! Also pray that we are guided to the elect who want the gospel!!!:)

-Elder A. Olson

Monday, May 16, 2016

More 'Gators and Murals

Happy Monday! I hope y'all had a great week this week. I guess there isn't much to say about our week sadly. It was a busy week but not a lot to write about. Tuesday we had transfers, which was pretty cool. We don't do the actual transfer meeting anymore so Elder Bravo and I just chilled together for like four hours waiting for our new companions to come down. I got a new companion named Elder Creer.  He's a super cool kid from Spanish Fork!  It's been funny to think that I've had companions from Payson and now Spanish Fork when there are hundreds of missionaries in this mission. Anyway, he's awesome! He's been out for 9 months now and so far it's been a solid transfer with him. So we will continue to see how things go!

We did end up having a great week this week concerning teaching and finding. We taught like 32 lessons this week and found some new investigators. Some aren't as solid as others, but you never know the effects the gospel could have on someone, so might as well give em a shot! We have continued to work with our current investigators. Carl has been doing okay. He finished the Book of Mormon and has started rereading the Old Testament. The only problem we are having with him is getting him interested in coming to church. So we will see what we can do. We also have been working hard with a investigator of ours named Neil. He's an awesome 87 year old man that we found a few weeks ago. He has been really interested in the lessons and has never really had the influence of religion in his life. Last time we talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how we should follow the example of Jesus Christ. So he accepted a baptismal date for June 18th and so we will continue working with him! We also have been working with Randy who is the boyfriend to a less active member we teach.

Elder Creer and have been taking lots of pictures with the murals around town too and so I will attach some pictures with those. Overall, it was a pretty long casual week, and nothing overly exciting, however, it was successful so that was GREAT!!

Anyway, here is a talk given by Jeffery R Holland titled "None Were With Him" I suggest you look up and read/watch the full talk. It's amazing. Here's just a fragment of it. —

 "I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me. … I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me].” He ventured into the Garden of Gethsemane alone. Falling on His face in prayer, “sorrowful … unto death,” the record says, His sweat came as great drops of blood as He pled with the Father to let this crushing, brutal cup pass from Him. But, of course, it could not pass. Returning from such anguished prayer, He found His three chief disciples asleep, prompting Him to ask, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” So it happens two more times until on His third return He says compassionately, “Sleep on now, and take your rest,”  though there would be no rest for Him. Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually--that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind--us, all of us--would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone. But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path--the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel."

Sorry that was LONG, but that is a crucial topic and an amazing talk! Thanks for everything, love and miss you all! Have a great week!:)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Chill Week

Hello Everyone, I hope you all had a great week this week!! It was a pretty average week here and nothing out of the ordinary really happened work and lesson wise! Brother Short came back from his vacation (he got to meet some of my family at the floral in Salem)so we spent a while with him this week! Also, most of our week was spent finding new people to teach. We just went around trying to find potential investigators, or former investigators basically, and along the way met quite a few new people!!

We tried to knock on a former investigator's door and a man walked out from behind the house. It wasn't the man we were looking for, but it was his father who lived in a trailer behind the home. So we had a good chat with him. His name is Randy and he's a little on the crazy side of things... But hey, he said he's always wondered what made Mormons happy so we will help him see the gospel now!! We also went and visited a less active member and her 5 kids. All of her kids are under 11 and LOVE Elder Rowley and I, so we like to go visit their mother, Mandy, and try to help get her and her kids to church. And while there, we went around back to where they were fishing in the backyard and also met another guy named Randy, who is a family friend. We invited him to church Sunday and he said he would come and that it would be his first time coming to a church in 25 years!! He did show up and brought Mandy and her 5 kids with her, so we will see how we can continue working with him!

We also had a good little fiesta with a member in the branch. She invited lots of people both members and non members to her fiesta, so that was a great opportunity for us to briefly explain what we do and just get to talk to all sorts of people. I have a few pictures of that to share and I'll have more next week because I forgot my camera today...

Also, just a quick update on Carl. He finished the Book of Mormon. So that's super awesome!!! WOOHOO!! We are still working with him  to try to get him to come to church.

But the ultimate best part of the week was of course the Skype home we were able to do on Mothers Day! It was AWESOME! I'm grateful for the support system I have back home and for all they do for me! It was nice being able to have a great conversation with my family again. I'm so grateful for them and their constant support and love! Honestly that was the highlight of the week, seeing those I love and miss so dang much! I love you all!  Through the whole Skype it was just running through my head that it was my final Skype home on my mission, and in a short 11 weeks or so I'll be home! It's just so surreal to think that it's almost over... But I do hope everyone had a great Mother's Day. I'm continually grateful for the special roles you women play in our lives. God bless you! Thanks for all you do for all the rest of us! I hope you truly feel of the love and special divine calling given by your Heavenly Father!

Just a quick quote for a little spiritual uplift- As we walk the path of discipleship, it refines us, it improves us, it helps us to become more like Him, and it leads us back to His presence. Living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal--a preparation for inheriting the grand glory of the eternities. Enlightenment and understanding come to us when we do the will of the Father. Jesus Christ has cleared the way for us so that we too, must never feel unloved or alone. So that we too can progress to unimaginable heights!

Sorry this is a short one this week. It wasn't all that exciting other than the Skype home on Sunday!! And well... I talked to the majority of who I email anymore then hahah!! I love and miss y'all! Have a great week this week! Thanks for all you do!

—Elder A. Olson 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Great Baptism Week!

Hey everyone! I hope you guys had yet another fantastic week!! Ours here in Lake Placid was quite a good week. I mean.. There wasn't anything exciting like racing in a Corvette or anything, but it was still pretty good!

Overall, we had a good week of lessons and service again plus it's also the last week of the transfer:( We were able to go on exchanges and have a great time. I stayed in Lake Placid and Elder Bravo came down here with me and it was a great time! He replaced me in Melbourne, plus he served in DeLand, so we had a good ole time talking about the area and the people in it. And we actually had the opportunity to utilize his Spanish speaking capabilities and go knock some former investigators doors who only speak Spanish. Sadly none were interested, which might also be a good thing cause well...Neither Elder Rowley or myself would be able to teach them! But we were wracked on miles so we ended up walking most of the day and luckily a member came out with us!

We did get to experience a few awesome things this week though. We had a lesson with one of our investigators named Carl. Now Carl can be hot and cold at times, meaning he is interested one visit and the next it's the complete opposite. He was raised in and has always attended another denomination, and he is HUGE into history, and has a overall great knowledge. After meeting with the missionaries for months this week he decided that since he finished the other books he planned to read, he might as well read the Book of Mormon. As we talked about it, and after he expressed how he liked the stories inside and where he was (he read half of the Book of Mormon in a few days) as we walked away from that lesson to our car he said, "Hey boys, thank you for this book. It's truly helped me feel that God truly does care about all of his children. I appreciate the feelings I get and none of this knowledge would be made possible if it wasn't for you bringing it to me."  He expressed a very sincere love for the gospel, the Book of Mormon and how it's helped change him, and a love for Jesus Christ. One of the most humble things I've had thus far on my  mission!

I was also blessed with an amazing answer this week. Lately I've been praying to know how to best help the relationship we have with one of our investigators who is struggling, and we can't quite tell how interested she is. Well... Every Tuesday we do service for a local Food Bank, and on Tuesday morning she called in panic because her job basically fell apart, and she doesn't have resources to help her and her handicapped son. So she asked if we knew a local food pantry. I pointed out it was interesting that she called, because we help do service for them, and that we could help get her set up for that needed help! I believe that truly helped strengthen that trust!

We had our baptism Saturday for Troy and Sidasia!! It went very well! The water heater is now working, so it was warm this time. But anyways, we are excited to see the progression of the girls. They have made a huge change in their lives and we are excited to continue working with them! Overall a great baptism day.

I finished the Book of Mormon again this week, and although I've had the
opportunity to read it multiple times since I've been in FL I felt like I learned and am actually applying more this time than ever before. So I'll share a thought about a few verses that stood out to me this go around. 3 Nephi 17:5-7...."5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, He cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon Him as if they would ask Him to tarry a little longer with them. 6 And He said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. 7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy." It's interesting to see that the love of our Savior, and His ultimate and unlimited grace and mercy is sufficient for all. No matter what you face. my favorite part is where it states he is here to heal any manner of affliction. We all face affliction, but our Savior cares for us individually. He knows and has felt our struggles, and knowing that any manner of affliction can be healed through Jesus Christ, we can be healed no matter who we are, what we do, what we look like, or who we were.. I extend to you all, as you come across trials in your life, call out, cry out, and reach out to the love, peace, and mercy your Savior Jesus Christ offers to all! And specifically to you.

Also, if you haven't heard of it already, I suggest you find him. There's a local Utah rapper named "Jamesthemormon" he released a couple of EPs this week and they have made their way to the top of ITunes music.. I haven't listened to them, but I've heard lots about it! Check them out!

I Love you all! Have a great week! Happy (early) Mother's Day to all the women out there who actually read my updates!! Haha! I hope you understand and know of my appreciation and everyone elses.. You all play a very huge and significant role in this life!!:) love y'all!

-Elder A. Olson