Monday, March 20, 2017

New Iowa Friends

Hello hello,

This week started off with a treat when Jackson Averett (formerly Elder Averett) came to visit us. We just walked around campus and showed him the football stadium and made a neat little video. It was some good times hanging out with him again :^)

On Wednesday we set up this family history booth that we have at Turlington Plaza, which is at the heart of campus. But there was this huge group from some church in Iowa that came down and was street preaching, and then a bunch of people were just blending in and talking with students. We aren't really sure what their purpose is, because none of them really knew either haha. But a lot of them were being soooo bashy and it just made the afternoon pretty inneffective. And
because they were going so hard in the plaza, everybody on campus was pretty burned out when it came to talking about God.

The  best part about it though was that these two girls were telling us that since we grew up in the church we weren't actually converted to it, we were just blinded/brainwashed by our parents. But then one of the sisters' investigators, who was kinda hanging out with us, came up to us and said, "I actually just met the missionaries last week, and they gave me a Book of Mormon and I KNOW that it is true. Also their church matches the church found in Acts more than any other church I have ever been to, and I know that they have a prophet guiding their church." Then he threw down on them with the Bible, which isn't what we were going for, but it was still pretty awesome haha. They just kinda ignored it and changed the subject. Vintage.

But apparently the sisters met one of them that was actually interested and they set up an appointment with her and her "mission team" at the institute, and the sisters called us in for back up. I was expecting it to be a big bible bash, but we set expectations that we just weren't going to do that and it actually turned out to be a really positive experience! 3 of the 6 of them took copies of the Book of Mormon so hopefully we planted some seeds.

All of our investigators are kind of dropping off right now which has been frustrating, and it's been a tough week for finding, so things are a little rough as far as the work goes. The cool thing is at UF is there is just SO many people, so anyday at anytime we could meet that one person that is super prepared for baptism, so we're just pushing along trying to find them!

Love you all!

Elder Olson

Iowa Friends

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring Break


It has been quite the week that is for sure. Spring Break has been low key brutal not going to lie. It's just been a battle with everyone gone, and the only people that aren't gone are old people that aren't YSA and then also the foreign students that don't speak english.

Because of the lack of people and investigators on campus we did a lot of service. Most of it was for a member that I knew in the 5th ward, Sister May. She is moving out and she needed a ton of help because she has so much stuff. We also went to the Ronald McDonald house and did some good stuff there. One pretty unique service opportunity that we had was at a place called "Jungle Friends". It's a animal rescue facility for monkeys that were used in laboratories and stuff. We didn't actually do anything with the monkeys but we were doing yard work right next to these monkey enclosures so it was pretty fun.

I have been really exhausted this week and I can't really figure out why. It's been frustrating to not be on my 'A' game, like I was nodding hard in sacrament meeting and I felt like a greenie in the 5th ward again haha. But we are just pushing through it and this week should be solid with all of our investigators getting back.

Love you all!

Elder Olson

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sleepover or Exchange?

Hello hellooo

This week has been pretty good. On Monday night I started an exchange with Elder Mahoney which was really fun. Kinda weird though because we did service with our companions, and lunch and dinner so it almost felt more like a sleepover than an exchange. It's way different than Lake City where you are 50 miles out of your area. 

We had a few investigators at institute on Tuesday night which was really fun. Our companions also taught Ray, the Serbian girl we met on Saturday and they say that it went really well. Haha I was low key really not happy that I missed that lesson but its really not a big deal. 

On Wednesday we had to drive to Jacksonville for Zone Conference which was pretty good. It was basically just a review of everything that was taught in the last MLC but it was still a great meeting and you learn more and more every time you read/hear something. Zone conferences are getting so weird, I feel like I don't know anyone in the mission because all the missionaries are so new. 

We had some good lessons this week. The people we teach are all so diverse Some of them are super hippy and others are super scientific, some are basically dry Mormon's and then we have some that are hardcore anti, like quoting from the King Follett sermon in our lessons. 

It's been pretty dead the last few days because it is Spring Break this week. Basically everyone on campus started peacing out on Friday and Saturday so finding has been a struggle. This next week is just going to be knocking on a bunch of empty doors searching for the one and hoping for a bunch of service. 

Love y'all!

Elder Olson

Loving life during choir practises

Dinner time naps, though . . .

Monday, February 27, 2017

First few days working in YSA

Hi everyone!!

It has been a crazy long but great week. Being in White Springs feels like forever ago.

The last day in White Springs was probably one of the most emotionally exhausting days of my life, but really good though. Leaving White Springs was just so hard, I love the people there so much!! We had dinner with the Harris' which was great and we also had one last lesson with Cathie and Johnna which was awesome. I may have cried a little... or a lot. I am going to miss White Springs so much!!

Wednesday was also pretty draining. I was just wrecked after Tuesday and then the long drive from White Springs to Jax and then Jax to Gainesville. It is super weird to be back in Gainesville, especially back in the same apartment complex as the beginning my mission.

My new companion's name is Elder Kautai, we get along really well. He has been out for 9 months and he is Tongan and from Texas. He redshirted on University of Utah's football team, but we don't let that affect our relationship haha. He has tons of energy and passion, it's just directing that passion in the right way. He is really great though and he really fits well in the YSA.

Serving on campus is soooo different though. I felt like a total greenie on Wednesday it was so werird. The work is just totally different and there are so many people... and they are all smart and educated. But I've mostly adjusted by now to serving in the YSA and it is super fun. It's crazy: if we don't have appointments we are just constantly street contacting on campus, and we've met some really awesome people.

I've seen a few 5th ward members, and one person from Calgary which was super weird. Apparently she lives in Auburn Bay or something but I didn't know her.

We've had some awesome miracles so far too. A bunch of new investigators and really solid people. On Sunday night we were still 3 NI's short of our goal so we went tracting for the last hour of the night. Elder Kautai was like "hey so we don't have time to go all the way to the fourth floor last door, so lets just skip to the fourth floor" and I was fine with it and then the first door we knocked on the guy let us right in and we taught him and and his 3 roommates!! They are so elect, they are all East Indian graduate students at UF and really want to know the truth!!

Anyways I feel like I've been all over the place, but that's just how the week has been. Gainesville has been a blast and I love you all!!

Elder Olson

Monday, February 20, 2017

Returning to Gainesville (and transitioning to YSA?)

Wow so much has happened this week it has been one to remember for sure.

P-day was really awesome, we found some singletrack MTB trails and we hit them up and wow it was so awesome. Obviously there aren't any real hills in Florida and the trails honestly weren't thaaat good but it was super fun to get to do some real riding again.

On Wednesday we went to Jacksonville for our MLC meeting which was really awesome. It was mostly a review of things that we had talked about in the past but it's always a treat to get training from President and Sister Lee. After MLC we went on an exchange with the assistants which was super fun. We both stayed in their area and we only had a few hours to do it but it was so much fun. I was with Elder Britsch who was my zone leader way back and we had such a fun day. He just has a way of drawing faith out of you that you didn't know that you had. Hahahaha at night we were talking about school and stuff and Elder Ward was saying that he was going to be living at King Henry apartments when he goes to BYU and we laughed at him because apparently King Henry is just bro central where everyone goes to get buckets and Elder Ward says "Ahh man I don't want to get buckets, I want to get covenants!!!" Haha it was classic.

On Friday we had another exchange with the Branford elders which was great. I got to take Elder Curran to White Springs with me which was super neat, because I took his place here in White Springs! We had a fun day of teaching and seeing a bunch of people that he taught that have since gotten baptized. We went and saw Cathie and Johnna which was really awesome. They told Elder Curran about everything that has happened since he left and just thanked him and told him they loved him and thanked him a bunch more and gave him a big hug when we left. Oh yeah I forgot to mention, Elder Curran goes home tomorrow so this was like a last hurrah for him. Anyways as we were driving out of their driveway we had a pretty tender experience. We were just quiet and the spirit was super strong, and then I looked over at Elder Curran and saw a few tears running down his cheeks, and eventually he said "I've been waiting for that moment for my whole mission. And now its finally come". It was pretty cool. 

On Saturday we had transfer calls and I found out that I am leaving White Springs... I am pretty sad to leave all the members, recent converts, and investigators, but I realize that it would be unfair to hog White Springs and not let anyone else have the blessing of serving here. But I literally could not be happier about my new area!!

So I am getting transferred back down to Gainesville, and I'll be serving in the YSA there! It's going to be super weird, because my geographical area will basically be identical to my first area when I was in the Gainesville 5th ward, but now I will be teaching students at the University of Florida! It's going to be a blast. My new companion is Elder Kautai and I honestly know nothing about him but I am super excited because I hear he is a solid guy.

I just feel super blessed to have served here in White Springs and I'm going to miss all the members all so much!!

Love y'all!

Elder Olson

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 85


So this week I wanted to start by sharing a little story from earlier in my mission. Flash wayyy back to my first p-day on the mission, sitting in a laundry mat at the MTC. I had my first weekly letter written out, I was pumped about it and all that was left was the subject line... But I could not for the life of me think of a clever/creative subject. So I just wrote "Week 1".

Flash wayy back again but not quite as much as last time, now we are on the second p-day of the mission and I find myself in the same place. Weekly email written, but no clever subject line. So I just wrote "Week 2". From there I really just lost all hope of ever coming up with a creative subject line, so I figured I would just stick with the "Week X" approach. But every week for the last few months I have really been regretting my decision haha. Crazy that is is Week 85 now. Gross.

This week has honestly been really good, really not so good, and just all around hectic. We had a zone p-day on Monday which was really fun. We went to see a tiny little waterfall and played some ultimate frisbee. It was fun, but always super stressful when you have the responsibility of babysitting 20 teenagers, and get to be the one who apologizes for the group when a football kept hitting this old guy's camping trailer hahaha. Fortunately I've had plenty of practice when it comes to apologizing so we got it all smoothed out.

This week we had a really good lesson with our investigator Rose, who is the younger sister of one of our other investigators, Katie. She has had a really hard life, but she just wants to do this and come closer to her Heavenly Father. She came to church on Sunday and she even brought her daughter and 2 of her granddaughters!! She is looking really solid, so that is just another really solid investigator that is an older single sister. Idk what is is but I feel like 90% of the progressing investigators that I've had on my mission have been older single sisters.

On Thursday we had to drive to Starke to interview someone for baptism, so that took up a lot of our day. Despite the hour drive each way it was easily the best baptismal interview I've ever been to. The man getting baptized was the boyfriend of a member and her parents offered to have us and the Starke Elders to their house and make us a steak dinner! Doesn't happen at every baptismal interview.

These are a lot of the good things that have happened this week. Most of the not so good things were having 2167 appointments fall through, most of them at the last second, and some stressful lessons with some recent converts. We got it all worked out though, and they are now stronger than ever!

Probably the best part about this week was how busy we have been and that we have always had something to think about. Nothing is worse in missionary work than having nothing to do, which can sometimes be a struggle in country areas, and we didn't have a lot of that this week so it was definitely a week to be grateful for.

Love y'all!!

Elder Olson

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chuck's Baptism

Hello hello

It has been another really great week in White Springs! The weather has been getting really nice, even though it's only February which we are appreciating now but I'm sure in a few months we are going to be missing the cold again.

We've had some really good lessons with Sophia, the 13 year old girl that we have on date. A few over Skype, and a few with the whole family. We've had some members Skype into lessons a few times and it's been a really neat experience being able to use the technology to build the kingdom. I've learned that front facing cameras weren't just created for selfies but also for teaching the gospel haha. Unfortunately due to some miscommunication with Sophia and her parents she wasn't able to make it to church, so we will have to re-adjust her baptismal date, but she is still progressing well. 

We also got to start teaching her older sister's friend, who lives in Jacksonville, and so the missionaries over there are going to start visiting her. If she gets baptized she will have an interesting conversion story that starts off with being at a friend's house for a law of chastity lesson haha, I never thought that would be the lesson that would get a teenage girl interested in the gospel but hey you never know I guess. 

Probably the highlight of the week was Chuck's baptism on Saturday! It was a small simple service, and Elder Beenfield baptized him which was great. Chuck was all worried that Elder Beenfield wouldn't be strong enough to lift him out of the water but he did all right. After Chuck came up out of the water he raised his arms in the air and cheered, it was so funny. Classic Chuck. 

Our investigator, April, came to the baptism, and then she also came to church the next day and it was her first time. She walked in late and just sat at the back and so we didn't see her and the next thing we know she gets up to bear her testimony!! We were low key freaking out but she bore a really awesome testimony and the members just swarmed her afterwards so it turned into an ideal situation. Hopefully we can get her on date soon

Hmm that's really all I can think of that was note-worthy... oh we also had interviews with President Lee which was good as always. But yeah it was a really good week :-]

Love y'all!

Elder Olson