Monday, February 29, 2016

Bishop Palmer

Yes! It's true! 
Yesterday our bishop got released and now we have Bishop Palmer! (he is the father of the family we are living with). THIS IS SO COOL! I'm seriously so elated right now I cannot even express it in this email. And what's better is he is super on fire. He bore his testimony yesterday for the first time as bishop about missionary work. It's awesome. I'm so happy. 

Our sweet investigator didn't come to church this week. She is still doing really good though. We saw her on Saturday night. Her countenance has changed. Her kids are happy. I love the gospel!

We basically got the greatest member referral ever
 this week. One of our members was talking to her friend who was telling this member how she feels something missing in her life. So our member was a rock star and said she should come to church. Her friend came to church yesterday and loved it. She talked to us for like 20 minutes about how she wants to be baptized so that rocked!

We got another member referral because another rock star member was riding her bike and saw a lady that needed help. She went over and helped her. Since his lady is on the member's regular bike trail, she made friends with her. She needed some weeds pulled so we are going over there with the young women and doing that for her.

We have really been working on helping members with their missionary work this week. I was pretty happy because looking back to when I first got here we only had one investigator. Since then we have had a baptism and we have two families and one single guy we are teaching. The baptism was from a part member family and one family and the single man are from member referrals. So I'm pretty happy. But I know the reason it's happening is because we have been fasting and praying for our members. We have become their friends and their cheerleaders for their own missionary work.

I wish I would have done this better in other areas I have served in. I've always been really close with all the members, and I made some dear friends, but I had a different attitude about member missionary work. Now it's different. Now it's exciting! Helping and serving the members makes my mission more fun. It's awesome.

I just love missionary work. But it has to be done in the Lord's way. Nothing works if you try to do everything yourself (I learned that the hard way). He has a plan. He loves us. There is nothing more rewarding and nothing that can bring more happiness then sharing the gospel with others.

Have a great week! Love you all! Thank you for all of your support. I feel it with me every day when I am out on the street. I feel my team of angels behind me and I know it's from all of you.

Sister Ashlee Olsen
California Redlands Mission

Monday, February 22, 2016

Training Round 2.5


I'm training a new missionary. Sooooo that was a curveball. In the back of my mind right before transfers I had this thought that I would probably be training, but I disregarded it and just assumed I would be put with a more experienced sister. I think I will probably be senior companion for the rest of my mission. I have mixed feelings about that; mostly inadequacy.......but hey if the Lord wants me to then I can do it! Also I said round 2.5 because I started Sister Erickson's training and finished Sister Anderson's training, but then I was with her for two transfers.....So I don't know.

My new companion is Sister Ashcraft. She is from a tiny little place in Idaho called Ririe. She said Yucaipa is bigger than her home town sooooo there's that. She is probably the most enthused new missionary I have ever met. She is always wanting to role play or plan or something. So she is definitely keeping me on my toes! This week has flown by fast because we have been super busy and planning loads. I kind of feel like a new missionary again and it's pretty exciting.

None of you probably remember this, but one year ago almost exactly, I was in Banning and we did something called "Missionary for a Day." Banning is actually in the Yucaipa stake....I 
think I might have neglected to mention that..... Every year this stake does mission for a day. All of the priests and laurels have a special fireside on a Friday night. They hear talks from recently returned missionaries and President Miskin. Then they split up into groups and missionaries teach 15 minute presentations about teaching, testifying, commitments, etc. Saturday, they are assigned to a companionship either here, or San Bernadino, or Redlands. They do studies with the missionaries and go out and work with them until 4 pm. Then they have dinner and a testimony meeting to finish it all up. It's pretty cool. Last year, sister Magleby and I had two laurels. One of them is actually the bishop's daughter here. But I had only been out for a month and had no idea what was going on. Not only that, but Saturday mornings are usually the slowest day here. So Sister Magleby had to deal with three girls that had no idea what they were doing. Fast forward one year, and I knew missionary for a day was coming up and I was praying that I wouldn't get any laurels because my companion had only been out for 4 days and we have no appointments on Saturday mornings. Well I got a call from the zone leaders on Thursday night saying I had to do some of the training portion of mission for a day on Friday night. I assumed since I was doing that that president Miskin wouldn't send me any laurels. Don't worry because right in the middle of our presentation at like 8 pm he texted us and said we were getting two girls.


So basically after we did the training, I ran home and prayed/pleaded/begged that the spirit would help me plan so that these two girls would have a desire to serve a mission and that my new companion would be happy that she did decide to go. I really was praying for them, and as I did that our plans just fell into place. We were able to set 6 appointments for that day. One of which was with someone that hasn't been to church in probably 15 years. These two girls bore such a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and at the end of lesson the spirit was really strong and the person we were teaching said that they wanted to go back to church. And then we had a lesson with another man who committed to be baptized. And then we had a lesson with a family in which the member told us how influential missionaries have been in his life. At the end of missionary for a day, these girls told us that they had really been praying that they would have a good day and that the spirit would help them feel adequate and they would know what to say. It was super awesome. Later that night we taught a lesson at President Miskin's house. Sister Ashcraft totally rocked it and committed the person we were teaching to be baptized on March 19th! It was so awesome! I was super proud of her. President Miskin gave us some advice on our teaching skills so that was really helpful. But the Van Cotts found out about it shortly after and Sister Van Cott sent us a very nice text. So I felt really good that day and I know it was because I completely relied on the Lord.

Our investigator came to church on Sunday. They were even a little early for sacrament meeting so that rocked. And we got a referral from a Ward missionary who called us and basically said they wanted to be baptized. That was awesome. Hopefully I will have more to tell you about next week. 
Side note: we also had lunch in Oak Glen and it was super fun. The guy that worked there said he just got home from his mission in Billings, Montana and knew Ivy Peterson. So that was incredibly weird!
Umm this is the longest email ever so I'm just going to stop now.

I love you all! 
Have a great week! 

Sister Olsen

Me and Sister Ashcraft

Got to see one of my favorite Banningites, Emily Moreno, at Missionary for a Day. 

My two little trainees all grown up!

Our cute girls that we worked with on Missionary for a day
District photo from last transfer. The guy on the far right was our District Leader.

Monday, February 15, 2016

From DC to Yucaipa: A City Girl Attempts Country Life

 Sister Anderson and I took care of the Palmer's animals this weekend while they went on a mini vacation. I fed the chickens, gave the horses hay and mucked their stalls, fed and played with the dogs that are half wolf, fed the cats (we don't actually see them very much. They wander to who knows where. It kind of reminds me of the stories Dad used to tell us about Bailey's adventures), fed the fish. They do have a bird. But they said he had gone a week without food before so we didn't need to worry about it. We also took a wrong turn down a dirt road one day and took some cool photos. Enjoy!

The darker horse is Sadie. Sadie is a lady. Dunny is the lighter male that Brother Palmer rides. Yes I am wearing Brother Palmer's giant cowboy boots. No I don't have makeup on. That's the country life style, right?

This is Penny. She wasn't very good at selfies....

"For God doth not walk in crooked paths,
 neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to
 the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round." -D&C 3:2

Well. It took me a million years to send those photos. So now I don't have time to do a weekly email....

This week we had a regional broadcast on Sunday with stakes from California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and parts of Canada. You can probably look it up on IT WAS AWESOME. Elder Hamula (he just visited our mission a couple weeks ago) conducted and gave a talk that sounded like the one he gave our mission. 

Transfers are Wednesday and we find out about them tomorrow. I feel like I will probably be staying and getting a new companion, but we will see. Zone conferences are next week. I'm looking forward to that. We also got a referral for a family, so I might have some new people to talk about this next week :) Sorry this is so short. The library is closed for Presidents' Day and our wifi here is terrible.

Love you all! It sounds like you are having wonderful missionary opportunities and that is so awesome! Keep inviting! That's all we can do.

Sister Olsen

Monday, February 8, 2016

Surprise visit from a General Authority

What a week!

I have learned a lot this week! Also I emailed a lot of people individually, so this email will probably be really short. I will sum up three cool experiences from the week.

1st- When Sister Anderson and I go to plan every night, we try really hard to plan in areas where we will be needed. We always pray that we will be able to be a blessing to someone that day.

After we prayed and were planning our day, Sister Anderson really felt like we needed to go and see a particular woman. When we showed up the next day, it turns out she had just heard from the doctor that she had cancer. She was praying for help and comfort right before we showed up. I am mostly writing home about this because she asked me to. She wanted you all to know how much it meant to her that we were in tune with the Spirit. That made me feel really good.

2nd- We found a new investigator this week! There is a part of our area called Oak Glen. Basically it's all farm land. A family in our ward, the Chudys, live up there. They have a friend who lives about two ranches up from them. Sister Chudy is basically the greatest missionary of all time. She invited their friend to dinner with us to hear a spiritual thought and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon with her testimony in it. We talked about the Atonement and Jesus Christ. He really felt the Spirit and was moved to tears. 
We have a return appointment tomorrow and Sister Anderson and I are quite excited!

3rd- I have been to four mission conferences now and this one was definitely my favorite. Elder Hamula of the 70 came to speak with us. He is the general authority over California and Hawaii. Our mission president always says puny preparation= puny revelation. Our mission has grown so much. Not in numbers, but in obedience and Spirit. When I first got here, there were some disobedient missionaries. I think the reason this conference was the best was because the missionaries really tried to prepare and really worked to feel the spirit. 

There was a lot of things great about it, but I will tell you what I learned. As I have been on my mission, one of my goals was really to get a sense of who I am and what Heavenly Father wants for me in my life. Elder Hamula talked to us a lot about our lives before we were born. He told us that we were valiant. That we loved God so much that we were willing to die for him and his plan. Because of our obedience before we came here, we were blessed to be able to serve a mission. (When I say "we" I mean all the missionaries in my mission.) Anyway, he went on quite a while about this and the Spirit taught me something. Everything that happens to me and will happen to me is based off the decisions that I make. I made certain decisions before I came here that got me to my home to "goodly parents who love the Lord." I really felt that Heavenly Father was very pleased with all the decisions I am making now and my desires to do what he wants me to do. I felt that there is a plan for me. And I am so excited about my future! I have no idea what's going to happen, but I know I am going to have a family and that Heavenly Father is going to bless me if I keep making good decisions. 

I don't know if any of that made sense.... but that's what I learned this week. And it's not just for me. Heavenly Father loves all of us so much. He has a plan for all of us. The more we obey him, the more blessings we will receive.
Love you all and hope you have a great week! Remember who you are!

Sister Olsen
Beautiful, scenic Yucaipa

Panoramas are cool

Look at all these creepy birds!

I thought for a split second I was in that scary Alfred Hitchcock movie....

Some pictures from our mission conference

A couple of my old roommates whom I love dearly

Monday, February 1, 2016

I feel crazy.

This week has been CRAZY! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aaliyah got baptized this week! Yay!  President Miskin in our ward (President Van Cott's first counselor) helped us a lot. He is the Williams' home teacher so he gave a talk at the baptism and it was wonderful. We also had the activity day girls sing which was awesome. Sister Anderson and I stood at the top of the stairs to help Aaliyah get out of the font after she was baptized. She looked so happy! It was so sweet.

Kierra got baptized as well. She is the daughter of Misty whom we are also working with. Kierra is probably the sweetest little thing I have ever seen. We have grown pretty close. Her mom told me at the baptism something Kierra said about me before they got there that was really sweet and made me feel pretty good. There are people here in Yucaipa that I really like a lot.

Sister Anderson and I taught the Message of the Restoration while we were waiting for everyone to get changed. We had the talk portion of the baptism in the chapel because there were so many people and our stake center is kind of small. I had never taught the Restoration in the Chapel before. That was a pretty awesome experience. may have cried when I talked about the first vision... I just really felt the Spirit. And I knew that Heavenly Father really was pleased with me because he knows I am trying my best. Some things are just out of my control and that's okay. I just do what I can and he makes up for the rest.

One of our investigators came to the baptism! She actually called us right after because she went with her daughter to the store to get her some new church clothes. That was really cute. I love that little family.

This week has been a wonderful time for me because I have recognized a lot of answers to my prayers. On your mission you learn a lot about who you are. Being in Yucaipa has really been hard for me because I have been put in a lot of challenging situations. This one morning I was really praying and looked up and saw that picture that mom sent me from President Uctdorf's talk- the one of the pioneer girl skipping. I decided there are just so many reasons to be happy. It's so important to think about those things. I have also been reading my patriarchal blessing a lot and thinking about my future and what is in store for me. I was doing something dumb and comparing myself to other missionaries and thinking about how my mission hasn't been as "successful" as others' or whatever. But I have been really feeling that Heavenly Father has a plan for me. Everything I am experiencing now is to prepare me for something great. My mission is just a tiny part of my life. Whatever is after this is even bigger and greater. Not like I am going to be president or anything....... I just really feel that I am loved. There is a plan for me. It is personal. Whatever is going on right now is to help me for what's going on later. That brings me a lot of peace and I think that's what makes this life worth it.

So there is my cheesy two cents for the week. Love you mom and dad! And Taylor and Tara and Dannon! And Bailey (if he is even still alive)! And everyone else!
Have a great week.

Your missionary, 
Sister Olsen

A little pool side planning! Hope that doesn't make all you East Coasters jealous!!
Sister Anderson and I with Kierra at her baptism.

Pictures from Aaliyah and Kierra's baptism

This is Aaliyah. She is so stinking cute and I just lover her to pieces. Yes I am wearing my Christmas skirt.

More pictures from the baptism.

We caved!!!!!