Monday, February 24, 2014

"My one goal on my mission is to turn all my companions into total weirdos. So far I am doing pretty good I'd say!"

So first of all, the power of prayer is so incredible!!! Awesome story for y'all. So a few weeks ago I was saying my nightly prayers and praying for Steph as I always do. However I have been trying to be more specific in my prayers recently. Specific prayers bring specific blessings. I asked Heavenly Father to bless Stephanie with one more baptism here at the end of her mission. Then on Monday we got her email about Katya being baptized!!! (look up above and click on "Sister Olds the First" to read about that!) It didn't even hit me that it was an answered prayer until a few days later. I was kneeling down again to say my nightly prayers when all of a sudden it hit me!! I literally gasped in the middle of saying my prayers! (Sister Stringham thought it was so funnny!) It was such an incredible testimony builder!! Heavenly Father truly does hear and answer our prayers as we have righteous desires!!
We had to go to Cleveland this weekend to pick up some medicine for me. I felt really bad that we had to take a whole day to do it (we ended up in a HUGE traffic jam on the way there which made it take way longer than usual.) To repay Sister Stringham we went to Little Italy right next to the hospital and I bought her dinner. We went to Mia Bella (which the valets there recommended) and it was DELICIOUS!!! It also made me miss going out to dinner all the time with my family.
Not a ton happened this week. We had Zone Conference which was wonderful. President Vellinga is so incredible!!  I love him so much! Best quotes from him at zone conference: "We are trying to get people to heaven for pete's sakes!" And I also about died laughing when he started talking about baptizing penguins in Lake Erie. (Of course i was the only one. Then my whole district started laughing cause they knew that i was the one that busted up) Oh also Sister looney came to church again this week!!!! So exciting!!!
Sorry this week is so short. I am sending lots of pictures to make up for it :)

It is president Vellinga's birthday this week and we wanted to send him a fun card. Clearly we had way too much fun trying to take a picture for him! Self timer is hard....

Mia Bella's in Little Italy! So delicious!

Sister BoBo Olds' desk zoo!

The houses on Lake rd. are RIDICULOUSLY huge!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"That Heavenly Father is one good lookin dude!!" -Sister Looney

I love roller coasters. I do not love roller coaster weeks.
This week was all over the place! But wonderful nonetheless!
Sister Stringham and I had a "girl's night" with Sister Looney this week. Oh man....she is too great. She called us the night before letting us know that she was going to get a pizza for all of us because "that just seems fitting for a girls night" and that she was oober excited for our girls night. We had the pizza and then cookies and watermelon that we brought. We shared Proverbs 31:10 with her and then somehow ended up helping her organize her room. (she is a bit of a hoarder, my organizing skills have come in handy time and time again on my mission!) We found a witch's hat in her room that she said she had worn one year for Halloween. She put it on and had the biggest grin on her face and looked so thrilled with herself! As long as I live I will NEVER forget that image!!! I wish I had gotten a picture of her in that hat!! She is too cute!!! Then we helped her pick out an outfit for church this week. She was SO excited to come to church!! However, her ride ended up getting sick Sunday morning and we found out last minute. We were scrambling like crazy to find her a ride and NO ONE could do it! We were panicking!! We ended up having to call her and tell her that no one could come to get her. She was so upset and said that she was done and was never, ever coming back and that we shouldn't ever ask her again. Sister Stringham and I both immediately broke down in tears. We felt like all of our hard work and progress we had made with her was just flushed down the drain. However a few minutes later the wonderful Relief Society President came and said that she was leaving church to go pick her up (which is about 30 minutes both ways). We called Sister Looney back and she wouldn't even consider coming even if she went to get her. We were so sad and so discouraged. Sister Taylor SAVED the day though!!! That woman is honestly a miracle worker!! She was able to talk to SIster Looney and convince her into coming next week and that she personally would pick her up. Sister Looney agreed and gave us another chance!! Also Sister Taylor told her that she would bring her cookies tonight because we all felt so bad that she couldn't come, so that definitely sweetened the deal. Sister Taylor is SO AMAZING!!! We love her so much! It gets even better though. Bishop could see that we were really upset when we walked into Sacrament meeting late. We got a text from him later that day saying that Sister Looney was fine and that he visited with her for a while. Yes!! Sister Looney had been telling us all week how she really wanted to talk to Bishop. That night we went stopped by to see how she was doing real quick since we were right next door. She was in much higher spirits and I am pretty sure that she forgot about that morning completely. (hallelujiah!) Are you sitting down for this?? While we were standing there she said, "Oh I don't smoke anymore. It makes me deathly ill." ..................WHAT?!?!?!?!?! Sister Stringham and I were in SHOCK!!! We asked her what had made her realize this and she told us all about how Bishop had come over and they had a good long talk about it and prayed about it together. Right after he left she went to go have a cigarette and got horribly sick. Then the same thing happened a few hours later. She told us that she is done smoking and is getting rid of all her cigarettes!! Highlight of the week BY FAR!!!
(Second best highlight of the week: I saw a pug in a sweater)
Guess what!! I like waffles!! We went to the Hughes' home for dinner this week and they always have breakfast for dinner on Thursday. We were both a bit hesistant because I don't like practically any breakfast foods-especially waffles and pancakes- and Sister Stringham hates eggs. Guess what was for dinner! waffles and eggs! Haha but we were good sports and ate it of course. They were DELICIOUS!!! I don't know if I was just blessed with more accepting taste buds that night or what, but they were so good!! Oh also somehow we got on the subject of youtube videos and Brother Hughes brought up the Baby Monkey on a pig video and I just about fell out of my chair laughing!!! I had totally forgotten about that video!!! I laughed WAY too hard at that one. They thought it was hilarious. Yesterday I thanked him for getting that song stuck in my head all week!
We were able to help one of our investigators move this week. (thankfully still in our area!) We worked practically all day Saturday with them and a little on Sunday to finish up. Our bodies are exhausted!! But I made Poppa proud of his son. :) They were a bit shocked I think with us. We are stronger than we look!!
Sad news.... We have to move out of the Buchanan's house :( We found out this week that their daughter and granddaughter are moving in and so we are apartment shopping now. (Which is much harder without the use of the internet!) So let us know if you hear of any apartments for rent in Avon or Avon Lake! haha
Love you all and miss you so much. This work is the greatest thing I could be doing with my life right now. I love it so much!!!
Love from Avon,
Sister Olds II
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE VALENTINES FLOWERS!!!! They were such a nice surprise on a hard day :) You guys are so wonderful!!!

I got the CUTEST Valentines Package from my old roommate Elizabeth!!! She is too sweet!!! Of course my favorite thing was the pink hedgehog mug! She knows me so well :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

love + charity = MIRACLES

I love when I get to see miracles happen out here!!!! So I know that I have mentioned Sister Looney before, but I don't remember everything that I said so I will give a little back story this time too. She is a less active that the missionaries have been working with for a really long time. She lives with 5 cats and her name is fitting. When I first got to the area Sister Stringham said that she wasn't even going to take me there because she is so crazy, ridiculous, and frustrating. I was up for the challenge though. When I met her I could see what Sister Stringham was talking about. She believes that God has told her that it is okay to smoke, she is the epitome of a crazy cat lady, and some of her views on the gospel are a bit ....interesting. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SISTER LOONEY!! She is hands down my favorite person I have met on my mission so far! After a couple visits  with her, I suggested to Sister Stringham that we should take a different approach with her than what all of the other missionaries have done so far. We don't need to focus on how we need to change her and what she is doing wrong, but simply focus on loving and serving her. It has been amazing to see the change!! Sister Looney loves our visits so much more now and miracles truly have come about because of it. Since I got here we have been trying everything we can think of to get her to read just one verse from the Book of  Mormon a day. Nothing has worked until this week. Last Monday I got an email from Richard Olds and in it he told me of an experience he had where he put the Lord first in his life and he was able to have time to accomplish the other things that he was worrying about finishing in time. He saw the blessings in his life come from putting the Lord FIRST. I shared that story with Sister Looney and promised her that if she put the Lord first in her life and read God's words that He would bless her with time to find everything else that she needs to do in her day and that her life would be less chaotic. (Her excuse was always that she didn't have time cause her life is so crazy) We told her that we would call her every night to check up on her reading. When we called her the next night we about fell out of our chairs when she told us that not only had she read one verse, but she wanted to read more! She is so cute. She said that she wanted to read more but remembered that we told her to read one verse and so "she was good and did what we said and only read one". She is so precious! We told her that she can always read more and that we just want her to read at least one verse. She has been reading every day since! Then Saturday night when we called her, we felt prompted to invite her to church. Sister Looney hasn't come to church in YEARS! She told us that she would have to see if she could and then call us back in the morning.
We had to pick our jaws up off the floor when she told us that she could come to church in the morning!!! I was doing the biggest happy dance ever!!!! We got the Taylors to give her a ride. Honestly that was one of the happiest moments of my mission so far seeing her walk into the chapel that day and sitting next to her for all three hours of church! They got there late and so they came in half way through sacrament meeting. It was ward conference and so the Bishop was giving a talk. He was talking about the ward goals for 2014. One of the goals he was talking on was our goal for 25 less actives to return to activity. Just then he looked up to see Sister Looney sitting in the back and immediately he started to cry. The ward was so incredibly welcoming and loving to her!! So many people came up to say hi and that they missed her and were happy to see her back at church. She was so surprised that so many people remembered her since it had been so very long since she had come. She felt so love and said that she had a wonderful experience! She even raised her hand and shared a few comments in Relief Society! She told us that she hopes that she can come next week because she enjoyed herself so much! I am so grateful that you have been such a wonderful example to me Momma on how to love and serve others. It truly is what helps people the most.
So I completely forgot to write about this last week! But I still want to share it with you. When we were on exchanges a couple weeks ago I went to a nursing home to visit a couple less actives with Sister Foust. We met with Sister Blackmor who is hard of hearing and just the sweetest old lady ever! As we were getting ready to leave I asked her if there was anything we could help her with. She sat there pondering deeply for a moment and then all excited goes, "Oh yes!! In that top drawer right behind you!" So I get up and open it and she says, "There are some chocolates in there to the right side. Can you please bring me a couple of them?" Immediately a huge smile spread across my face and tears came to my eyes. Of course my first thought was of my sweet dear Gran. Apparently she wasn't the only old lady that had a huge sweet tooth! It reminded me so much of when Gran used to always ask me to sneak her a couple chocolates so that Aunt Glenda wouldn't find out. (I'm pretty sure Aunt Glenda always knew though) It made me miss my Gran so much, but am so grateful that she is with Kent now and they are watching over me while I am out here.
I love you all so much and miss you tons!! There is no place that I would rather be than doing the Lord's work here in Ohio!!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!
Sister Olds

The Book is Blue, The Church is TRUE!

Honestly everything just starts to blend together after a while. Didn't I just get here last week? This whole week honestly seems like a blur. I will try to remember what happened though.
I had my first exchanges this week! It was really great, but also made me realize just how much I am going to miss this area when I have to leave. Also, how much I am going to miss SIster Stringham!!! I love her SO MUCH!! It is going to be so hard to have to be separated eventually. Every time someone brings it up we just get really serious and tell them that we don't talk about that. We are seriously the same person!! It is too fun. I am so happy that she is just as goofy and weird as I am.
Sister Taylor (the one that texted you that picture of me this week) gave this AMAZING lesson this week in Relief Society. She shared the youth music video for the theme this year and it is so good!! Everyone go check it out! Seriously there was not a dry eye in there after it was over! We went over that night to the Taylors house for dinner and were already on a spiritual high from church then they showed us some of the Bible Videos. How have I never heard of these before?! They are absolutely incredible! My favorite one is when he heals the blind man. Definitely watch some for FHE sometime! I love them so much!!
Hmmm what else happened this week...Oh!! I'm all better!! Yay for no more cold! Also there is supposed to be a huge storm coming in tonight. Pray that we are able to make it out of our house tomorrow! We have too many important things planned tomorrow to be stuck inside.
This week one of our investigators (well...former investigator now...he dropped us on Sunday    :(  )taught us how to make "pigs in a blanket". (Which are really cabbage rolls)They are polish!! And so delicious! It of course makes me miss Ukraine even more. It was so fun though and we took them to district meeting the next day for us all to have for lunch.

It is crazy to think that I have already been out on my mission for two months. (As of today!) Where is the time going?! It is incredible how much I have already learned and how I am growing so much. My understanding of this gospel and the Book of Mormon are so much deeper now! As well as my testimony. The Book of Mormon is seriously THE most incredible blessing in all of our lives! It answers every single question we could ever have in life. No matter what problems we are having in life, if we go to the Lord then He can help us through them. As Elder Holland said, "Hope is never lost." Heavenly Father is just waiting to answer our prayers and to bless us. We are the ones that must take action first in coming to Him with our burdens and cares.
I love this gospel so much and have finally realized the largest blessing in my life; being born into this gospel and into a family that loves and lives it. This gospel brings more happiness into my life than anything else ever could. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me to go and help His children feel of that joy in their lives.

Cooking with Mike

Our car got a flat the rain. Why do I only ever have car troubles when it is raining? 
So we are walking through Walmart and all of a sudden goes "There's your cousin's baby!!!" Umm.....what?! Sure enough....I look over and there he is! Really Claire? The first time I see your baby is on a magazine in Walmart?? But he is super adorable!!

Sicky sick :(

Sister Stringham and I have been horrible sicky sicks all week. Being sick is no fun. Being sick as a missionary is the worst! We were stuck at home most of this week because of it. I honestly can't even remember the last time that I was this sick. Or ever!! I thought having CF gave me a free pass to never getting sick? What happened to that?? But anyways this email this week is super short, cause what more can you tell about a week stuck in bed?
One funny story this week though! We had an appointment with an investigator and her kids that we refused to miss even if we were puking out the side of the car. Thankfully we had the energy and health to. We watched The Testaments with them and afterwards were talking about when Christ will come to earth again. Her 9 year old son said, "It's been a really long time. Do you think that Jesus forgot to come back??" Then during the closing prayer (which he said) he said, "please bless that Jesus didn't forget to come back." How cute is that?? Her kids are all so precious!! Love them so much.
Hopefully I can get over this cold soon!! Love and miss you all! Especially this week! Being sick makes a girl awful homesick.
Haha that reminds me, one of our other investigators called us this week to see if we could come over and cook with him and we had to tell him that we couldn't because we were home sick. He thought that we meant we were homesick and so we couldn't come over. haha "Oh yeah...we are too homesick to come over and cook. sorry." haha No. We are home. Funny.

The ADORABLE pillow case that terri made me for my birthday and sent me!!! How cute is that?!? I was so excited :)

Sister Stringham taught me how to knit!! This is what I made. I am turning it into a head band. I know it isn't super amazing but its a start