Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"I thought you were my angel."

Have I ever mentioned how much I love being a missionary? No? Well I absolutely LOVE IT!!!
There is so much that happened this week! Hiding Sister Looney's lighters so she won't smoke, Christmas, being hit on, abundance of blessings from the Lord. Where do I start??
Well on Christmas Eve we went to the Tonkinson's house for dinner. They had a bunch of people over from the ward and had lots of different soups and breads. It was delicious!! And Sister Perrenoud and Sister Beaudoin got to come as well so that was super fun!! Afterwards our whole district went caroling in Lorain. It was so great! Everyone was so grateful to have us come. Some people tried to pay us,  but we just let them keep that and gave them a pass along card :) One house was my absolute favorite though. We rang the doorbell and started to sing, and then they opened the door and there was a huge family there and  they all invited us in and sang with us. They all had out their iPad's and iPhone's and were video taping us as well. We sang a few songs with them and then gave them our card and told them who we were. Then they gave their church card to us! haha they were Pastor's at the nearby church and invited us to sing at their service! We invited them to church with us Sunday, but sadly none of them came. They all gave us huge hugs as we left though. They were all so great!!
Then for Christmas we went to the Teaman's house for breakfast/lunch. (We also woke up to a dead battery in our car and sweet Brother Buchanan jumped our car for us) They had all the missionaries over!! They were so hospitable to all of us!! Our ward here is seriously SO GREAT!! We had a huge breakfast with them, then some of the missionaries called home, and then we all played games for a while. Afterwards Sister Stringham and I went to the Taylor's to skype home!! Honestly it wasn't too hard since I feel like I just saw you all yesterday, but it was so much fun to talk to you!!!
So we had been having a lot of farming days, without seeing any success. Almost all of our stop by's were never home, appointments kept canceling, and one of our investigators dropped us. Needless to say it started out as a pretty rough week. But we didn't get discouraged and kept working hard! And we saw the blessings pour in because of it!! We were able to meet with a less active family and commited them to reading the Book of Mormon for the next 30 days together! Then we had a wonderful lesson with our investigator that has a baptismal date in January and he told us that he is already living all of the commandments! Then we were able to set up 3 more appointments that day for next week! We were so so so stoked! We went tracting later that day and met a lady who had just found out a few hours previously that someone very close to her had just passed away. She was so upset and kept thanking us profusely for stopping by at that time and gave us lots of hugs. We gave her a Proclomation to the Family and are meeting with her again this week. We love knowing that God trusts us to send us to certain people to be answers to their prayers.
The New Year is coming up!! What are all of your guys' new year's resolutions?
The number one thing I miss most being out here, is being able to go to the temple!! There is no greater place on Earth than the House of the Lord. As one of your new year's resolutions you should make it a goal to go to the temple as much as you can. At least once a month. I know that your life will be so blessed by serving in the temple and attending it regularly. At least go for me since I can't!
So on my first day tracting we met a man whose life would be SO BLESSED by the gospel. We taught him a short lesson and left a Book of Mormon with him. We went back to see him this week and were able to teach him again shortly on his front lawn, but he had said that he hadn't read any since we first met. He seemed interested in what we were teaching him and we made a return appointment and gave him our number. The next day he texted us and we were so excited!! We could tell that he was so ready for the gospel and knew it would make such a huge change in his life. As he was texting us, we quickly came to realize that it wasn't the gospel he was interested in... He didn't quite understand that missionaries do not date at all while on a mission. We were so bummed. Hopefully there will be Elders in this area soon that can teach him.
Thank you so so so much to everyone that has sent me letters this past week! You are all so wonderful! I feel so blessed to have so much love and support from such amazing friends and family. I love you all!!
Sister Olds the II
Sister Missionaries at Christmas
Found these goodies in the left over box from old sisters. Of course we had to take pictures in them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


First of all, I miss the MTC!!! The last few days were so wonderful there!! It was so hard to say goodbye to my amazing district and wonderful zone. We grew so close!! As well as our incredible teachers. We learned so much from them!! They were all so great.Sunday all of the Elders in our district gave us sisters a blessing before we parted ways. There were 4 elders and 4 sisters so it worked out perfectly that they could each give one. The spirit was so strong and they were all such beautiful blessings. We all grew to love each other so much and were like our own little family. They are all going to be such amazing missionaries.
Getting to Ohio was pretty crazy. We left the MTC at 3am. Flew to Minneapolis. (On that flight the lady that was sitting next to me was TERRIFIED of flying and would cling to me and hold my hand during take off, landing, and any turbulance. I got woken up to her clawing at me numerous times. It was pretty funny....and painful.) Then we all had to book it to our gate because our layover was only 40 minutes and that airport was HUGE!! We were running through the airport and thankfully made it in time for our flight. President and Sister Vellinga met us at the airport and we were all so excited to meet them!!! We had lunch at the mission office, iinterviews, and a meeting. When we first got there, a senior sister missionary walked up to me, Sister Olsen, and just asks, "Are you Rosalie Bunker's granddaughter?" WHAT THE?!?!?!?!?!?! I got SO excited of course!!! Turns out she is from Mesquite. NV and so she knew her!!!! It made me so happy to know that someone here knows my sweet Gran. Sadly I had to break the news to her that she passed away a little bit ago. But she agreed she is much happier with Kent now.
That night we had dinner at the mission home and then went to bed early (thankfully. We were all so exhausted!!)
The next day was Kirtland!! Oh my goodness. Everyone needs to add that to their Bucket List. We went through the Kirtland temple and the spirit there is absolutely indescribable. It was so amazing to stand in the same room where both Heavenly Father and Christ have stood. We sat in Joseph Smith's office and read out of Doctrine and Covenants the revelations that he received in that very room. Honestly words could never do it justice to describe that experience. It was absolutely amazing. Afterwards we went to the N.K. Whitney store and the School of the Prophets. Heavenly Father and Christ also appeared there as well. I wish you had  all been there with me to feel the strength of the spirit there and feel it for yourself.
Afterwards we met our companions!!!! No doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father knows exactly who we need to be companions with. Sister Stringham is PERFECT!!! In the first 3 minutes we found out that we have a mutual friend!! She found out I was from Gilbert, Arizona and she goes, "Oh! I have some friends that moved there. Do you know Jaden and Jenae Feddock?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! Jenae is one of my best friends!!! hahaha so of course we hit it off great right from the start. We were so stoked!!!! So Sister Laura Stringham is from Calgary, Alberta and we are seriously like the same person almost. We have all the same interests and get along so well already!! She is such a wonderful trainer!! I am learning so much!! I am so so so grateful that I got her as my trainer! I love her so much!!
This past week has definitely been the most exhausting week of my life!! I have never been so tired before. Sister Stringham says that it is just my body adjusting and that eventually I will get used to it and not be so tired all the time. Thank goodness. My eyelids have never felt so heavy. But she is putting me right to work and I am loving it!! We are in the Lorain East area and so we cover Avon, Avon Lake, and Sheffield. I am seriously in the CUTEST area in the world! The best way to describe it is pretty much Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. Every house we pass I just go, " Oh that's so cute!! That one's even cuter! Oh look at that house!! It's so cute!!" haha And Sister Stringham gets a kick out of me getting excited over every single squirrell I see. I'm a desert girl! We're used to scorpions, not adorable little squirrells everywhere!
The ward here is AMAZING!!  My first Sunday here they gave all of the missionaries inthe ward this HUGE Christmas present!!! I'll send a picture. It is ridiculous!! It had everything in there!! Shampoo, soap, lotion, candy, food, nerf guns, toothpaste, etc. It was so sweet!!! We were so spoiled!! Also we live with a couple from the ward! The Buchanons. They are so great!!!! Their house is nice and it always smells like Christmas :) They have two dogs named LuLu and Max. They are so cute!! It makes me miss my Sophie girl so much!
I feel like there is so much more to say, but I have no idea what!! My mind is still so flustered!! But I am transitioning smoothly. Oh I have a new address!! This one will send straight to me instead of through the mission office first.
3106 Jaycox Rd.
Avon, Ohio 44011
But the other address will still work. They will forward my mail to me. Well I have a ton of pictures to send this week too!! I love and miss you all so much!!! Have a most wonderful Christmas!!!

 Oh my lanta. These Elders are going to do great things in Las Vegas. Love 'em to bits.

The most amazing zone the MTC has ever seen!!!

Oh I love these humans so much :)

The Sister O's with their desk buddies!!

Leaving the MTC :( Poor Sister Mummert was stuck there a little longer.

We got SO spoiled by the ward.

My adorable companion Sister Stringham!!!!

Our little Christmas tree and our presents!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"I do NOT have a crush on Leonardo Davinci!!" -Elder Crabb

Oh me oh my. What a week. We'll start where I left off though.

So last Sunday Sister Tuioti and I got called to be Sister Training Leaders! We were so stoked!! And then that Sunday was literally the busiest day of our life. We were running from building to building trying to make it to all of our meetings and such on time. It was pretty chaotic, but I am so happy for this opportunity to be able to serve the sisters in my district.

In Sacrament Meeting on Sunday Brother Hall ( a member of our branch presidency ) gave the most amazing talk on faith in Christ. He said, "If you have not read Jesus the Christ, then you do not know Christ." Then he shared his experience with reading it on his mission and it was so powerful!!!! Then as our closing song we sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again. That song has never hit me so hard. I remember just sitting in the back of the room, king around at all of these amazing people I have grown to know and love and realizing that I would have to say goodbye to more than half of them in just one week. I just started bawling. Our zone is seriously like a little family here. I am convinced that we have the greatest zone in the MTC, and that I have the BEST district ever. I love them so much. Our Elders are all like big, protective older brothers to us sisters. They always take our trays for us in the cafeteria, open doors for us, and get super protective when they see any other elder talking to us. It cracks us up, but they are so precious.  We always kneel in prayer together and have started a new tradition called "compliment circle" where we just go around in a circle taking turns giving each other sincere compliments. We decided that we are going to continue the tradition throughout our missions through our letters. I am going to be so sad to have to say goodbye to them in 3 days.. :( (So one night as we were kneeling down to say our closing prayer before we went back to the residences, I almost continued our family tradition after our nightly prayers and tackled Sister Tuioti to the ground. Thankfully I remembered that I was in fact in the MTC and not in my living room before the prayer was over. I told them about it after we said amen, and now they never let me live it down. "Oh Sister Olds, this isn't really family prayer! Don't go tackeling Elder Adamson or anything." haha)

Sad sad sad news. The Provo temple has been closed the whole time we have been here, so we wont get the chance to go at all while we are here :( We were all so upset!! I miss the temple so much!!! Go as much as you can for me!! Never taking the opportunity to go to the temple for granted. However, Sunday afternoon we did get to all walk to the temple!! When we got over there we song the Efy  medley as a zone and it was so great!!! That song is so amazing, especially when you are missionaries. 

So I had my first break down this week. That was no fun. I was just feeling overwhelmed because I felt like I didn't have the spirit with me when I was teaching and wasn't receiving revelation on what I should be teaching. I felt like all the other missionaries in the room had no problem with this and so I felt like something was wrong with me. I don't know. So I broke down in class and started tearing up and so Sister Tuioti and I went out into the hallway to talk. She is so wonderful!! She is the most loving and caring person I have ever met. She totally comforted me and just let me cry on her shoulder for a little bit. We cleaned myself up and then went back into class. Our teacher Brother Heath walked up to us and started explaining what we were doing, and then all of a sudden I just burst into tears again! Right in the middle of class. I was so embarrassed. So he was just like, "Sister Olds, come with me." He took me out in the hall and I just spilled everything that I was feeling and what was going on. He said EXACTLY what I  needed to hear. Our teachers care SO MUCH about us and love us so much. I am so grateful to have such amazing teachers. Then later Sister Lyon was talking to Sister Tuioti and I about how our lesson went with Kristine that morning (Kristine is one of our investigators, who is actually Sister Lyon) and she said how the spirit was so strong and how we taught amazingly and how we had answered Kristine's prayer from the night before. Then I started crying again!! Who am I?!?! I don't cry!! So then she just gave me a big hug and we talked for a little bit as well. Our teachers are seriously some of the most amazing people I've ever met. 

Elder Quentin L. Cook was the speaker at Tuesday Devotional this week!! It was so awesome and such a wonderful surprise! Also our whole zone joined the choir which made it even better. It was an amazing arrangement of The First Noel that was absolutely beautiful!!

Thank  you so so so so much to those that have sent me letters!! I got 7 in one day and felt so loved!!! And special thanks to Toree Day for sending me a letter on the exact day I needed it. I love you all so much!!

Well 4 more days and I will be in Cleveland!!! I am so excited!! We had In-Field Training ALL DAY yesterday and it just got me so stoked to get out there and start using all these things that I have been learning. Oh also Elder Christensen from the District was in this little play they did for us yesterday. Only missionaries will understand that, but he is pretty much a huge celebrity around here haha.

With lots of Love,
        Sister Olds the II

P.S. Regarding the subject line....We were giving Elder Crabb a hard time about having man crushes on celebrities and all of a sudden he goes, "I do NOT have a crush on Leonardo Davinci!!" And I just go, "....The painter?!" hahaha we all busted up laughing. He meant Leonardo Dicaprio. Then to make it even better, we were talking about how Michelangelo's paintings and Elder Adamson goes, "And he painted that with ONE EAR!!" "Nope....that was Van Gogh buddy...but you were so close." hahaha. I love them all so much.

Our whole zone!! (minus a few)
Of course we had to do the cliche MTC picture! All my cleveland sisters!!!

Awkward family photo!

Our district goals.

All the Elders in our Zone 

and all the Sisters in our Zone!!

We have a very wide range of heights in our district... (Elder Watters is 6'10"!! So Erin you can stop complaining about your height) 

Studyin in class (Elder Crabb, Elder Adamson, Sister Tuioti, Sister Jackson, Sister Urso, Elder Makaiwi, and Elder Thieme)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dearingist Darlingist Mommsy and Popsicle

Oh man..where do I even start???

I LOVE THE MTC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is seriously so wonderful here!! When I first got here my host sister that brought me in was from Italy and is going to France on her mission. So she is learning English while she is here and also French...made me so happy that I am speaking English on my mission!! From the first seconds here it has been go, go, go!!! But I love it. My first five minutes of being here an Elder from India thought it would be funny to mess with the new kid haha. He went on and on about how they gave him his name tag with no engraving on it and kept asking me where he needed to go. I don't know!! I just got here! But then he flipped it around to the engraved side. haha I felt like an idiot. 

My companion is so sweet!! Sister Tuioti (two-ee-oh-tee) I love her so much!! We get along so well. Then the other two sisters in my room are so great too!! Sister Jackson and Sister Urso. Sister Urso is just the cutest little thing you've ever seen!! I loooooove my district!! We were all instant best friends right off the bat!! Unfortunately the elders in my district aren't headed to my mission. They are going to the Las Vegas West mission (Elder Bruce's mission!!!) Which means that Bunkerville is in their mission!! Haha when we figured that out I FREAKED OUT and was going on and on about how great Bunkerville was and how wonderful all the people are there!! I might have oversold it a tad....haha All of my teachers have been so amazing so far! We are learning tons here!! We get super tired each day, but it is totally worth it. 

So last night our whole zone (also awesome) got to meet our branch presidency and they separated the elders and the sisters at the end. The branch presidency's wives met with us sisters about some of the rules and guidelines. They were going over makeup and were encouraging us to wear lip gloss especially. Of course all I could think of was "MORE lip gloss and MORE glitter!" hahaha I was dying laughing. The sisters in my room got a kick out of that too. 

I seriously love being here. I haven't been sad, nervous, homesick, or frustrated at all! (But I'm sure those feelings will come eventually. At least that's what everyone keeps telling me...) One of my favorite things about being here, is thinking of all of the people that I know that have walked these same halls as me. My parents, my sister, tons of my friends. It is so great!! And so inspiring. 

My companion and I were walking through the cafeteria yesterday and I overhear an elder that was walking past us say that he was going to the Hungary Budapest mission and I just stop him and go, "I am SO JEALOUS!! You are going to love it there so much!! I was there this summer and I absolutely loved it! It is so amazing!! I had a friend serve there that loved it so much!! Sorry...I totally just eavesdropped on you...but I thought you should know." haha I could tell he was pretty caught off guard.

Side note: They told us that we shouldn't say "guys" when we are talking to people here. We have to say Elders and Sister. I never realized how much I said guys before now! We will get into class and I will just go "Oh hey gu....Elders.." haha So that is definitely taking some getting used to. 

I love running into people I know!!! I have seen Elder Justin Lilly like 3 times already! The first time I saw him I walked past him and then was like, "Wait....Elder Lilly?!" I had no idea he was here!! I can't even remember the last time I saw him!! He turned around and was like "Whoa!! Hey!!" And then went in to give me a hug and I just stuck my hand out and he just goes, "Oh..er...uh...right." haha kind of awkard/ hilarious. Then I also saw a sister that was in  my public speaking class last winter semester!! 

Well I am so grateful that the Lord has lead me to making the decision to serve a mission. I have not had one single regret since being here!! I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. The work is progressing!! It is such an amazing and exciting time to be a missionary!!! 

I love you all!!!! 

    Sister Olds the II

 Me and my companion Sister Tuioti!!! Clearly we were meant to be companions....WE MATCH!!

 The wonderful sisters in my district. Sister Urso, Sister Jackson, Sister Tuioti and me.

How cute are they?!?! I love them so much!!! We are all so happy here!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Farewell My Friends!!

I promised a few people that I would post my farewell talk on here since they weren't able to make it last week. I can't believe that I leave in 3 DAYS!!! Surprisingly I am not nervous or scared at all, I am just so excited to get out there and start serving the wonderful people of Ohio.

Farewell Talk
November 24, 2013

Growing up in this ward I remember listening to all of the departing missionaries giving their farewell talks and thinking, “Man, I am so happy I’m not a boy and I don’t have to go on a mission. Missions seem so hard and farewell talks seem really scary.” Oh if only little 10 year old me could see myself now. Apparently God had other plans for me.

President Uchtdorf once said in a general conference address:
Hope is not knowledge, 17 but rather the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us. It is confidence that if we live according to God’s laws and the words of His prophets now, we will receive desired blessings in the future. 18 It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.

Hope, along with faith, has been one of the guiding factors that helped me reach the decision to serve a mission. And of course, faith goes hand in hand with hope as it says in Moroni; “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?”
We must first have hope before we can have faith.

As I was thinking about the past year of my life, I remember one exact moment when I knew, “I am going to serve a mission.” But looking back I realized that that seed of desire to serve was planted long before that day.

I was going through lots of my old journals reflecting on different experiences in my life, and after of course some good laughs and reminiscing on a good handful of embarrassing times, I noticed that God has slowly been leading me to this point throughout my life.

First of all, I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today, as well as who I am today if it weren’t for the absolutely amazing people I have been blessed to know throughout my life; ward members, teachers, young women leaders, and most importantly my friends and family. Having three girls growing up my parents never really pushed us to go on missions in anyway, and so I had never really planned on it, or even considered it for that matter. My friends growing up in high school were the ones that first planted that seed of me wanting to serve a mission. All through high school they always knew what their first goal was after graduation; serve a mission for the Lord. None of them had ever waivered wondering if that was the right thing to do or if they even wanted to. They just knew that it was the right thing to do.  This resulted in over 20 amazing young men serving missions all around the world. Going to all of their farewells you could see their excitement and desire to serve, but that wasn’t what really pushed me to want to go. It was all of the wonderful letters that I receive from them while they were out serving. They would tell me of their wonderful stories of all of these amazing people they were meeting and what great experiences they were having. Not only were they changing other people’s lives, but also in the process, their own life was being changed. I could tell just how much these missionaries loved the people they were teaching and how their testimony was growing so much. It wasn’t just the fact that my friends all served missions, so why not join the bandwagon and do the same? It was hearing about Tibor learning about the Plan of Salvation and reading the Book of Mormon and slowly coming to find the truth of this gospel for himself; or of Betty coming back to church after 45 years; or the Chavez family all learning about the gospel and slowly working through their issues, and then getting baptized together, or even getting the opportunity to teach inmates at the prison. (Don’t worry Dad I won’t be doing that) It is all of these small experiences I was told that got me thinking, “I want to do that. I want to be able to help people remember why they’re here and change their life.” However I thought, “Ehh turning 21 is still years away for me. I don’t need to worry about making that decision for a long time.”

Little did I know that one year later, that decision would be coming much sooner than I thought. I remember all the excitement about the mission age change and I thought, “Wow! That’s so exciting! For everyone else…” I didn’t really think it affected me all that much. However, later that evening I was riding up to Salt Lake with some friends and just thinking back on what I had learned at conference when suddenly the question I had for myself popped into my head. Now most college students stress over this question about every other day, so to no surprise my question was, “What should I be doing with my life right now and where should I be headed?” I will never forget that feeling of complete surety of knowing in that very moment that I was going to serve a mission. I didn’t know when, and of course I didn’t know where, but I knew for certain that one day I would be a missionary. I got all of this excitement and just wanted to go the next day! However, “all things must come to pass in their time.” (D&C 64:32) God had a few more things in store for me before I was ready for a mission.

One month later I got accepted to the International Learning Program where I was fortunate enough to go and teach English in Ukraine for 3 ½ months. Now between the time I had received the surety that serving a mission was right for me and leaving for Ukraine was about 7 months. Which meant I had a lot of time to think, which isn’t always the greatest thing for me. I started to have doubts on whether serving a mission was the right path for me to go, or if I could even handle missionary work. The Lord truly does hear our prayers and knows our concerns. In order to answer mine though he had to send me across the world to Ukraine. I’m so grateful that He did though because what I learned there and the experiences I had became the largest deciding factor for me and I will cherish for the rest of my life.

When I moved to Ukraine it was the first time that I had ever lived in a place that wasn’t largely populated with Mormons. I grew up here in Gilbert, which is pretty much the Provo of Arizona, then decided to spread my wings and go to college…in the most densely Mormon populated town in the world, Rexburg. Upon arriving to Ukraine it was quite the culture shock. I didn’t know the area, I didn’t know anyone there (besides my best friend that came with me), and most importantly I didn’t know the language. My first thought was, “What did I get myself into?” I remember praying to Heavenly Father that first night and pleading with Him for his help, guidance, and protection over the next few months. I knew that I would not be able to go through this without Him. Multiple instances proved that He truly heard my plea to him that night and was my constant companion.

The most significant day to me out of that entire time over there, was May 10. (Now a few parents in the congregation don’t know this story in it’s entirety, but just keep in mind that we are home safely now.) I was fortunate enough to have my best friend Toree come with me on this grand adventure, and what a blessing that was. I was so lucky to get permission from the mission president to see Stephanie while I was over there. One weekend we took a train all night and arrived in Khmelnitsky at 4:00 am. We were a little unsure of what to do and decided that our safest bet would be to just sleep in the train station until the sun came up. Around 5:30 we decide to head out to go find our hotel. (Our host Mom had given us a map, in Russian, to help us out) I thought we were actually doing pretty well, until about 45 minutes later when we realized that we had absolutely no idea where we were. Now unlike my other two sisters, I have been blessed with a very good sense of direction. This was the first time in my life that I had ever truly been completely lost. Trying to keep cool so that Toree didn’t realize that I had absolutely no plan, we just kept walking. We tried asking people for directions, only to be reminded that we in fact do not speak Ukrainian, no one speaks English, and trying to get directions through a game of charades is probably harder than actually learning Ukrainian. We kept walking and walking and our bags got heavier and heavier. We tried to use our phones to call anyone, but of course those weren’t working.  Finally we both just sat down on a curb with absolutely no clue of where we were, or what we were going to do. I’m pretty sure I seemed much calmer to Toree, but my mind was complete panic and chaos. I mentally said a very heartfelt prayer to Heavenly Father. I told Him that we were completely in His hands and in His guidance. We were lost on the other side of the world, we couldn’t communicate with anyone, and we had no plan. I knew that He was our only hope. We decided to keep walking and we make it to a bus stop on a busier street. My first thought was, “No way are we getting on a bus. Who knows where that will take us? We will just be even more lost than we already are, if that was possible.” We sat on the bench and I had the odd impression to look through my pictures on my phone. Really, at a time like this? But there wasn’t exactly a plan B so I followed the prompting. Going through them I found picture of an e-mail I had saved from Stephanie a few weeks back. She had given me directions on how to find a hotel near her apartment and how to pronounce, in Russian, what to say to a taxi driver. It was a tiny little miracle, but it felt as big as the crossing of the Red Sea to us that morning. After trying to track down a taxi, then struggling to get the taxi driver to understand my very Americanized Russian, we were finally on our way to safety. I have never been more relieved in my life than when we pulled up to that hotel. By this time we had been lost for probably about 3 hours, but it had felt like it had been about 3 days to me.

Later that evening we met up with Stephanie. I have never been so happy to see a familiar face in my life. Of course she still had to be a missionary while we were there, so she just got two more companions to tag along with her. I realized that I had some very big misconceptions about being a missionary. One of which being that all missionaries, once they took that first step into the MTC turned into these missionary machines and were in complete, intense missionary mode 24/7. Seeing Stephanie as a missionary I was able to realize that missionaries are still normal people, they just have a much more spiritual and important purpose.  Later that night in my journal I wrote:

 [Journal excerpt]
"I had so much to thank Heavenly Father for tonight!! We have been so extremely blessed and watched over whole we have been in Ukraine! This morning especially! We were so extremely grateful to find that hotel this morning. And grateful that we had actually made it to Khmelnitsky and nothing bad happened to us while we were lost. After I thanked Heavenly Father profusely for everything, I asked about me serving a mission. Throughout the day it had constantly been on my mind. I was watching Stephanie be a missionary and saw just exactly what it was and what they do. My perspective of what a mission was like was completely wrong. I thought that missionaries were in intense missionary mode 24/7 and were completely different people. That's not how it is at all! They are still normal people! They just have an important calling to spread the Lord's gospel and that is their main focus. They still talk about cute clothes they see or have funny, random inside jokes. It was so comforting to see this, and it was EXACTLY what I needed!! I asked Heavenly Father if going on a mission when I got home from Ukraine was the right thing for me to do. I was a little hesitant in asking because deep down I already knew the answer to that question. As soon as I asked it I was immediately overcome by peace and comfort and knew that that is what Heavenly Father wanted me to do . After spending the day with Stephanie I was way less scared and knew that I was capable of going on a mission. AFter living inUkraine just this little bit, I feel like there isn't anything I can't do. This morning when we were getting ready I was talking to Toree and I said, "I feel like when we get home, no matter how hard life gets, I can think, 'At least I'm not list in Ukraine!'" And it is so true! One of the biggest things I have learned while on this adventure is that: I can do hard things!!"

That is what Heavenly Father needed me to learn. I can do hard things. In this one day I had been completely at the mercy of my Heavenly Father, with no plan of my own, to deciding for the last time that without a doubt, serving a mission was the right thing for me.

I loved the rest of my time in Ukraine so much, but no other day has stuck with me as much as that day has. I met many more amazing people, had lots more experiences that were perfect preparation for a mission, and came to realize the importance and blessing of being able to share the gospel. However, I will always be grateful for that day of getting lost in Khmelnitsky.

Growing up I have been incredibly blessed throughout my life in so many areas. Although I have struggled with different health issues, that has never been able to get in the way of accomplishing my goals and living my life to the fullest extent. I have been blessed with amazing, supportive parents, sisters that I can call my best friends, and best friends that are like family. Looking back I have realized all the many blessings that the Lord has blessed me with. How could I ever repay Heavenly Father for the amazing life that He has allowed me to live? I never truly can. But I can try. Dedicating 18 months to serve a mission seems like such a small price compared to what God and Christ have done for me. There is no better way to show Heavenly Father my gratitude, then by going and serving His children.

For when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.  (Mosiah 2:17)

Now while all of these different experiences and impressions helped me decide to serve a mission, I know for a fact that I could not have done any of those things or even had the opportunity to do those things, if it weren’t for my absolutely amazing family. They are my very best friends. Erin is always there for me to talk to about anything. I have always looked up to Stephanie for how she lives her life and who she is.  She has always been the greatest example to me and been one of my biggest supporters. My mother has always had such a deep love and devotion to this church. She loves this gospel, she loves all the members, and she even loves all of her church callings. She has taught me how to be loving and caring to everyone I meet. I know that I have my father to thank for all of the amazing experiences and opportunities I have had throughout my life. I’m so grateful that my parents have given all of their daughters the chance to leave the nest go and experience the world for themselves. My dad has been the greatest example to me of service. He is the most selfless person I know. My dad has always had many sayings and snip-its of advice for his girls, but I think that the most important one that he has taught me is to “Work hard, and always be nice.” I am so happy that I have had the support of my incredible family throughout my life and that I have them supporting me throughout my mission.

A few years ago I was blessed to have a very wonderful Sunday school teacher. One day he had given me a note he had written for me, and one line has stayed with me to this day,

“The Lord needs you on His side.”

 How true that is. The Lord needs me on His side. The Lord needs you on His side. He needs us all on His side. This world is becoming more and more corrupt each day and He needs more righteous followers to bring His light and His truth to His children.

I know that this gospel is true and that it brings more happiness in this life than anything else. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that he translated The Book of Mormon for all of us to have today. I know that we can find answers to our prayers and comfort and guidance through reading and searching the scriptures each day. I know that Heavenly Father loves each and everyone of us and that he truly does hear our prayers.