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