Sunday, May 26, 2013

Don't Hold Anything Back

May 24, 2013

My time here in the Provo MTC has been simply incredible, and I'm thankful for everyday that my visa doesn't come because that means I can stay and have more amazing experiences! I am learning lots of Spanish, but teaching in Spanish is still really difficult. My teachers Brother Stevenson (aka Pepe) and Brother Busath have had to endure some pretty slow and painful lessons. Last night Brother Stevenson pretended to be us and give a lesson to another teacher to show us that even without much knowledge of Spanish we can still teach through the spirit... I kinda wanted to throw something at him when he was pretending to be us because it was reeeeally bad! We all know more spanish than he was using and he kept pretending to do the same things we do when we don't know what to say. However, in the end we all got a really good laugh out of it and I decided that throwing something at the teacher probably wouldn't be the best thing to do -- ha ha. My teachers are pretty great, and they are super patient with us while we are learning!

Oh, how we love laundry!
About the most exciting part of our week.
Nothing incredibly exciting has happened this week because, well, this is the MTC, but every day I become stronger spiritually and know how to better teach and speak in Spanish. There are people in my class who had absolutley no Spanish before coming here and now they are speaking so much! I can testify that the gift of tongues is a real thing and that we have indeed been blessed with it!

There are a couple of really great things that I learned this week: "Don't hold anything back" and "Submit your will to that of the Lord." I want my mission to be great, and so I want to be able to say that I gave my all and did exactly what the Lord wanted me to do! The hymn "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go, Dear Lord" comes to mind often when I remember think of these two things.

My district out for our weekly Sunday Temple Walk

So, my district is awesome! Two elders that were previously our district leaders have been chosen to be the new zone leaders because all of the other districts have departed except for one, and the district that left last had the previous zone leaders in it. Once that district leaves on Mon and Tues, our district will be the only one left in the zone until Wed, and as far as we know, we'll be getting only one other district for sure...It seems so weird to go from 4 zones to 2 and soon 1! Our table in the lunch room seems so empty!

My awesome district -- who knew we could sing?
Hermana Hyer left on Wed for Peru, and she is doing well and having a blast down there. It was really cool to see the Elders give her a blessing before she was most of their first time giving a blessing! And last night, our Zone president, Pres. Tyler came in and asked them to give him a blessing because he had dislocated his shoulder. It surprised me for him, someone who is older, wiser, and has so much more knowledge asking them, who are newly ordained Elders, to give him a priesthood blessing. He told them "I know you can do it. I don't really care who gives it, becuase it is really the Lord who is giving me this blessing." I just thought it was a pretty good experience!

We also discovered that our district can sing! We just started singing "Nearer My God to Thee" because we wanted to try and bring the spirit back into the room after we had been having trouble focusing and studying. To our surprise, we were all able to pick out parts and sing a capella! It was way cool!

Me and my cousin, Elder Bone
I finally had the opportunity last Sunday to see my cousin Elder Bone! He entered the MTC on May 1st and is going to the Berlin Germany Mission. I had been trying to find him since I got here, and we just happened to run into each other behind the temple during our temple walk! He is doing great! I'm not gonna lie, was a little awkward because we couldn't do anything but shake each other's hand and stand like 6 inches apart for the picture -- ha ha. I'm pretty sure that picture looked just as akward as it felt :) But I am so glad that I got to see him! If I am still here next week, I can try to find my cousin Sister Langford! That will be super cool to have two cousins in the MTC the same time as me!
Thank you for your prayers! I feel like I really need all the help I can get in order to learn the language! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Visa Watch Continues, But That's OK

Friday, 5-17-13

My aunt and cousin volunteering as Spanish investigators

I saw my aunt and my cousin yesterday! My aunt volunteers at the MTC every Thursday to pose as an investigator and help the missionaries learn Spanish (she speaks Spanish very well). My cousin came along to help (she leaves for her own mission on May 29th), and I couldn't believe I bumped into them on my way to my class. This place is so crowded, it's amazing I saw them. Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering why I'm kinda gross in the pictures, it's because we had gym right after that hour so I didn't really worry about doing my hair beforehand -- haha.
Anyway, some good news! One of the Hermanas in my room got her visa two days ago, and applied for hers in mid January just like I did! So, the visa may be coming any day now. However, I'm really liking it here, so I don't know if I want to leave here anymore! Oh well, I'll go where the Lord wants me to be!

Me and my super awesome companion.
Hermana Lind is awesome! Before coming in to the MTC, I was worried that my companion would be lazy, dirty, or rude, but she is none of those! I love her and the other girls going to Peru. It will be way fun! I hope I get to spend time with them. Especially Hermana Lind as we try to be good Sister Training Leaders! If my visa comes in the next few days, then I won't get to do that! I would hate that! I am really enjoying it here, and I'm even OK with being reassigned to the states for a while. Totally different from when I was at home, right? I guess I just have a little different perspective now.
So, last Tuesday we had a devotional and I got to sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with the choir. Guess who spoke at the devotional?! Elder Russel M. Nelson!! It was so good! I got to sing for him! As soon as he got up to speak, I could totally feel the spirit. He had lots of good things to say. One thing I really liked was that it is better to have character than to be one. He also told us that if we wanted to be more like Christ, and therefore be a better missionary, we need to study His life. He told us to go to the Topical Guide and look up all the scriptures that are listed there. There's 18 pages!!! So, I've started, but it's going to take a while. One other thing Russel M. Nelson said was that my purpose as a missionary can be stated simply: We Follow Christ. Those words have a lot of power. If anyone ever asks me what I'm doing on a mission, I can say that I am following Christ's example.
When I came into the MTC, I was expected they'de at least at least give us a full week before we had to teach in Spanish...boy was I wrong! We got to teach Pepe on day 3! We didn't know how to say anything haha! It was probably really boring for him becuase we were reading from our books the whole time. We finnished teaching him a couple of days ago, and by then we were a little better at not doing everything according to the book. Now Pepe, or Elder Stevenson, is our teacher and it's kinda weird, but I think he will know how to help us be better teachers. Hermana Lind even got me to sing with her during one of our was so scary! I guess that's why the Lord wanted me to be her that she could push me out of my comfort zone a little bit.

Here at the MTC, we don't get to listen to our music, so I am starting to go crazy! I used to listen to music everyday for at least 3 hours, and now none is way sad! On the other hand, now I appreciate singing hymns and hearing special musical numbers. Hermana Lind plays the flute, so we might try to rent a violin and a flute and do a musical number together! That would be super cool!

I have been going crazy learning Spanish! Like I said, they have just thrown us right in. I actually know quite a bit and the gift of tongues has brought a lot to my remembrance. I feel like my English is starting to suffer from all the Spanish being put in! So sorry if my sentences don't always make sense or I start to spell things like they're Spanish -- haha!
I just want you to know that I love you all and that I am working super hard here at the MTC. I am all good, and don't have any complaints :)
Love, Hermana Olsen!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best Day of My Mission So Far

5-12-13 (Mother's Day)

Today was the best day of my mission so far, and one of the most uplifting days of my life.

Yesterday, we had our first 'lesson' for a new 'investigator,' which had to be in Spanish. Hermana Lind and I worked so hard to plan and translate what we wanted to say word for word. However, despite all our planning, the lesson didn't go well because we couldn't understand him to answer his questions. I started to feel so discouraged and disappointed in myself.

So when I woke up this morning, I was feeling down, but once I got to Sacrament Meeting, things began to change. In Sacrament Meeting, which we have with our whole zone of missionaries, President Tyler chooses two missionaries to give 3 to 5 minute talks, but no one knows who until we get there, so everyone must prepare one a talk on the topic for the day. Fortunately, I wasn't called up, but those that were had been in the MTC for a while. Their thought were so uplifting and I could feel the Spirit.

Then, before Relief Society, Sister Lind and I were called in to one of the counselor's office and asked to be future Training Sisters for our whole zone, and to begin our duties next week. I had had the impression that I might be called to that position, so it wasn't too big of a surprise to me, I just didn't realize it would be so soon! We went to the training meeting and we will follow the current Training Sisters around this week. We are super excited to serve all the new and current sisters of our zone! After this happened, I felt that maybe I wasn't doing too badly if the Lord has trusted me with this responsibility.

Next, I went to the most awesome Relief Society meeting ever! First, we began by watching 'Music and the Spoken Word,' which was all about mothers and helped me feel the Spirit so strongly. I love you, Mom! I so want to be a mother. Then, we listened to a talk by Janice Kapp Perry. She is such an amazing woman. She gave us great advise and helped us know and feel what she was saying through her music. The best part was when she had us sing a new song she has been working on. It had never been sung before, so we were excited to be the first. The lyrics were so beautiful! By the end of the song, I don't think there was a dry eye in the entire gym.

After that, I was feeling so much better. Hermana Lind and I decided to join in with the choir to sing at next Tuesday's devotional. We get to sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," which is one of my favorites. Today, music has uplifted my attitude and feelings. I haven't felt the Spirit so strongly in a long time! I LOVE MUSIC!

Me and my Hermanas
The best part of my whole day, though, was the very last part at the Sunday Night Devotional. We watched "Character of Christ," which is a talk that was given by Elder Bednar a few years ago to the missionaries in the MTC on Christmas Day. It blew my mind! I don't know if you can watch it, but I highly recommend doing so. My mission has taken on a new meaning. I need to try to turn to God, or turn away from myself. As I do this, I can be converted. Having a testimony of the Gospel isn't enough. One must also be converted, or be consistently true to what they know, in order to be a lifelong disciple of Christ. If I lose myself in serving others and trying to become like the 'Character of Christ,' I will find myself without looking for myself. I know this is true!

I love my Hermanas and I am super excited to be a training leader. Since I am looking forward to being with them and serving the new sisters, I don't want to leave the Provo MTC any sooner than 6 weeks anymore! However, this may mean that my visa may actually come soon now. Oh, well. Come what may, and love it!

With love, Hermana Olsen

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meetings, Rules, and a Trip to the Provo Temple

May 10th, 2013

I have been learning lots since I got here. I have gone to lots of meetings and orientations since I started, and I've been memorizing a gazillion rules, but I think I will have it all down really soon. The MTC has been a good experience thus far; it's actually been refreshing to not worry about the cares of the world. However, I have on several occasions reached down to grab my phone out of my pocket only to remember that I bestowed it upon Alex at the California Pizza Kitchen.

The food here really isn't bad, I'm just trying to eat more of the healthier things. It is pretty amusing though when I see elders sit down with like 4 plates of food and some dessert on their plates...I don't know how they can eat so much!!! My hermanas and I are excersizing almost every day so we can keep off any weight. Hermana Jones has run a marathon and hermana Lind is also a pretty good runner because her mom is a marathon runner and has taught her some things. Over all, I think I'll be pretty healthy while I'm here.

My mission president is named Pres. Tyler. He is way amazing! He is way nice and I know he knows the gospel really well. I had an interview with him yesterday night and he told me he was glad that I came here at 21 because I am more mature and have lots of wisdom. Well, I don't know about the wisdom, but I do feel like I am comfortable with myself. Some of the Elders in my zone seem to be struggling a little bit with being reverent, so maybe maturity will be a bigger influence on them.

So far, I have been really humbled by how much i need to learn while I'm here. My Training Hermanas and Hermanos are really great at speaking spanish, and they impressed me even more when they told me they had only been in the MTC for only 4 weeks! I hope that I can be so far along at that time. Even though Spanish has been hard, I can already feel el don de lenguas helping me to remember everything I learned in my half-semester class! I think I can do this! My teachers are really great, and I think they will be a great help. They have taken a very similar approach to teaching as my Spanish teachers at BYU, which has been pretty nice for now.

I had the opportunity to go to the temple this morning and do an endowment session. It was really good to go again. I was able to understand a lot more and retain it afterwards. I think we get to go once a week, so I look forward to learning more before leave (if I'm still here that is!).

There are lots of people waiting for visas here, and not just for Peru. My companion got her call a month after I did, so she didn't put her visa application in until mid Feb. That means she will probably stay here for the duration of her 6 weeks. Sis. Hyer, though, put hers in the same time as me, so we will be leaving together. We're pretty confident that our visas will come within the next two weeks.

Well, I know I said this in my letter, but just in case you don't get it in time, Happy Mother's Day Mom!!! Love you lots!

First Day

May 8th, 2013

Lots of happy, smiling missionaries on the curb as we arrived

What a busy day! When my parents pulled up to the curb of the MTC, we were greeted by a bunch of Elder and Sister missionaries who were all waving and smiling. My parents were joking that the MTC must conduct "Homesickness Interviews" the day before, and if any of the Elders or Sisters fail, they're not allowed anywhere near the curb on that first day :).

One last hug with my family

One of the Sister missionaries stepped up out of the crowd, and she introduced herself as Sister Caldwell, my 'Host Sister.' All the missionaries helped me with my luggage, which is great because my biggest bag weighs about 42 pounds. After one final hug with my family, they hopped back into the car and were gone.

Sister Caldwell (with the black bow in her hair)

Sister Caldwell took me around the campus to become more acquainted with the MTC, and gave me lost of great tips on how to survive the MTC, like the benefits of doing laundry at 4:30 in the morning and not drinking the orange juice. She also helped me when my key wouldn't work to get into my room. She is almost ready to leave the MTC and is really nice.

I then met my companion. Her name is Sister Lind, and she is way cool. She's funny and pretty down to earth. Right now, I'm rooming with two other girls and we all seem to get along great and we're becoming fast friends.

After getting all my luggage in my room, we had classroom time, orientation, dinner, and then a teaching experience. I learned a lot about how to teach people, and how to rely on the Spirit when I teach. I told my companions the '3 C's' Dad told me. They loved them! I will definitely remember them while I'm serving.

My President here in the MTC is President Tyler. He is almost like listening to a General Authority! He has asked us to memorize D&C 6:36 -- "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." I really like that scripture!

Me and my companion, Sister Lind
One thing that may be hard while I'm here is that we're supposed to refrain from using sarcasm... struggle! I'll do my best haha :). I also found out that the last day of my mission will be November 18th, 2014, so the day after my birthday! What a present it will be to come home on that day :).

After my first day, I already feel like I'm learning so much! I was pleasantly surprised by how much Spanish I knew. I'm definitely not going to find learning to speak it easy, but I'm off to a great start. While I know it will be hard to learn the language and the lessons, I know the Lord will help me and that I can do it -- working hard and having fun, serving the Lord as His missionary.

Friday, May 17, 2013

It Begins...

Originally, I was scheduled to depart for the Peru MTC on May 22nd, 2013, but my Stake President received a telephone call the first part of April asking if I could move the date up 2 weeks to May 8th. Of course I said 'yes,' but as a result I didn't have my visa for Peru yet. As such, I ended up at the Provo MTC, which is where I am currently learning to teach the gospel in Spanish (there are a few missionaries here waiting for their visas). I wanted to share a few photos of the time leading up to entrance into the Provo, Utah MTC on May 8th.
Me, my aunt, and my mother just after my 'farewell' talk at church on April 28th. I was sure glad that was over.

My and my grandparents outside the church just after I got set apart as Hermana Olsen on Tuesday, May 7th.

Last minute packing the night before I went into the MTC. There is a method to this madness (I think).

On our way to the MTC in Provo, Utah, we stopped for one last family meal at the California Pizza Kitchen at in Orem, Utah. It was delicious.

Me, my sister, and my brothers across the street from the MTC.

I was a little surprised at how upset my brother was with my leaving -- but of course, he was comforted by the knowledge that he will be inheriting my cell phone and our old, family van that I have been driving around Provo for the past three years.

My family wishing me 'Vaya con Dios' in front of the Provo, Utah Temple. We then drove across the street and they dropped me off at 12:30 PM MDT.