Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Canadians have invaded...

They came in overnight in swarms! On the sidewalks, around the buildings, even on our balcony! They are taking over! Thankfully though they were all dead within the next 48 hours. This was my first experience with the Canadian Soldiers.....or mayflies. They are these ridiculous huge insects that come in from the lake and cover EVERYTHING!! However their life span once they come out of Lake Erie is 24-48 hours. But then you have tons of dead, huge bugs everywhere. Thankfully this only happens once a year. I'm okay with it though because this week was also my first experience with fireflies!!!!!!! They are SO COOL!! Sister Genster and I stand out on our balcony at night at just watch all of the little firefly bums light up all over. I was freaking out the first time I saw them. She just laughed at me. AND!!! I caught one even! [ok I know, not all that exciting, but I was excited!] I had only ever heard about fireflies before and had never seen them. But now I can cross "catch a firefly" off my bucket list :)

Living in the Vellinga's area is so much fun! They had us over for dinner twice this week. They are so good to us, Not gonna lie though, the first time I was really really nervous about it. But then it turned out that President wasn't even there. But he was last night! They are all so fun though. It was great.

Well I don't really have a ton to update on this week, but I am LOVING serving with Sister Genster. She is such a crack up!!!! And then everything is just that much funnier with her adorable German accent. Oh and she is teaching me German! So far I am awful at it. But by the end of this transfer I will be a fluent German sister! [not] We have been so blessed this past week and seen so many miracles! It has been so fun getting to know all of the new people here in this area. I love getting to meet so many new people. It is incredible to me how quickly I love them. It is such a gift to get to have a little glimpse of how Heavenly Father views each of His precious children. 

So we were doing a bunch of stop by's this week and saw a lady working out in her garage so we went up to talk to her and ohhhhhh boy! She then spent the next half hour bashing on pretty much every belief we have and hold dear. She told us we were a cult, don't need the Book of Mormon, etc. etc. Ya know, the common things people hate on. I won't even mention what she said about Joseph Smith. Then she started praying in tongues. Wow. That was.....something else. The whole time I had Elder Holland's talk running through my head and kept reminding myself to respond with courage and courtesy. Which we did. We listened respectfully to her beliefs, then testified of what we believe. The conversation eventually turned to all of the different things that were going on in her life and what a hard time she was having. We offered our assistance and gave her our number. She was so grateful and to my surprise actually accepted our card and told us she would call us next week. [I think that was a total miracle!] As we were leaving she said, "I know you will be trying to work on me, but I will be working on you too!" haha oh we will see.

I love this gospel so much. I am so grateful for the truth's that we have that give us such peace, comfort, and guidance. I am grateful for the experiences I am having out here to help build my testimony and other's testimonies as well. 


P.S. We are moving this Friday. I know.....this is my 2nd area and will be my 4th move. haha Ridiculous. Cracks me up. I think President just sends me to every area where he knows Sisters will be moving. So I will send you that address next week. 

These pictures don't even do the things justice to show how huge they are. We named this one Moroni though. He was the last one we found alive yesterday. The rest of them died like 5 days ago. 

How awesome is that sky?!

We got to paint that barn behind us! And did some weeding for a less active in the ward. Sorry it's so blurry.

Our little gopher friend we found! He was so cute!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's a Wonderful Life

So many fun changes this week! New area. New companion. New ward. It has all been such a blast adjusting and meeting so many new people!

So I am in the North Olmsted Central area. Which is pretty much just down the street and around the corner from my last area. At first I didn't like that. On the map of our area I can see a corner of Avon. Breaks my heart a little bit each time I see it. It is like living next door to your best friend but you can't go play with her! However after a few hours I got over that. Because I am loving this new area!! So the area right above mine is where we would do exchanges and so I already knew the area a little bit and there were some fun familiar faces in the ward! Oh also President Vellinga is not only in my ward, but also in my area. So no pressure there! But I actually really like it. The Vellinga's are all so wonderful. The Stake actually had a mini mission day for the youth and so all of the Laurels and Priests got to go out with the full time missionaries for a day. We got to have Kristen Vellinga with us! [President's daughter] It was so much fun! She is already such a great missionary.

I LOVE MY NEW COMPANION SO MUCH!!!! Sister Genster is just the most wonderful, kind, loving, and awesome person ever!! She is from Frankfurt, Germany, is 33 years old, has been out for 3 months, [and is a mormon...haha just messin] and we are already such great friends!! We already have plans to go travel Europe together. I am so travel hungry again though thanks to her!! I love asking her all about Europe and all of the places she has been to. This morning during companion study we went off for like 20 minutes about German history. [Oopsies!] But hey, it started with us discussing Family History and how to use that more in our work. Which then led to her telling me all about her awesome Family History and showing me pictures of her ancestors. Then led right into me asking about World War II and the Germans perspective on all of that. It was actually really interesting. I seriously cannot even tell you how happy I am to be with Sister Genster. She is exactly what I need right now. As you all know, the past two transfers were incredibly difficult. [Much more difficult then I led you all to believe] But this past week with Sister Genster in a new area has already made a huge difference for me. We had such a wonderful week together and I am so excited to see what is ahead for us. It is going to be incredible!

I love our apartment so much! The building we live in is where the Sister Training Leaders live so I had been here numerous times before on exchanges. It is right on Lake Road and we can see Lake Erie from our balcony! [We are on the third floor] We live with Sister Duehring who is a single sister that works down at the Cleveland Court House doing record preservation for Family Search. She is so great! And there are 4 other sets of missionaries that live at the same building, and then a whole bunch of the senior couples and senior sisters live here as well! It is so fun getting to see them so much more often and getting to know them. Sadly though we are moving at the end of this month to a different apartment. [I know! I feel like I always happen to be in the area that has to move! This will be my 5th move and only my 2nd area! Too funny.] 

So the last few weeks I felt like my testimony was kind of struggling. [*cough cough* understatement] Which understandably that kind of worried me. So I had to take a step back and figure out what in the world was going on with me. I realized that so many things had been piling up on me and I was under lots of stress, that my protections against Satan had began to crumble. Without me noticing he had so cleverly made his way in and started tearing at my foundation brick by brick. Then before I knew it was gone. I thought a lot about how to get it back. I realized that I had to go through the same process that I wanted everyone I was teaching to go through. I now have such a greater testimony of the small and simple things that I need to do each day in order to keep and build a strong testimony. It has been amazing to see the difference that deeper and more meaningful scripture study and prayers have had in my life. I know that this gospel is the only things that will bring us true peace and direction in our lives. Without it, we truly have nothing and no where to go. I am so grateful that Christ has been here for me to help me build my foundation back up and to bring myself closer to Him. 

Missions are hard.
But they are worth it :)

Sister Olds II

Oh P.S! Here's my new address :) 
22453 Lake Road #303
Rocky River, Ohio 44116

Sister Genster's first time at Dairy Queen! 
It was so fun having Kristen Vellinga come be our companion for a day! [She even wore her mom's nametag to make her look official.] She is such an awesome missionary! We love her so much. 

More goodbyes from Lorain :(

The wonderful Hughes!! Oh man I love this couple so much. They are so great!!! It is thanks to them that I now love breakfast foods. I know! Crazy huh? Probably the biggest miracle of my mission right there. Dinner with them was always so much fun!! {Little Baxter didn't want to hold still for the picture, but he is so adorable]

The adorable little Neena Fishburn!! I love this girl to death! She was like my little sister out here. She is too cute. She loved watching Mormon Messages with us all the time. 

The wonderful Sister Teaman!!!! She is the happiest and bubbliest person in the entire world!! I love her so much. She always took such wonderful care of all of us missionaries. She had us all over for dinner multiple times and even had us all over on Christmas day as well! I am going to miss her so much! 

I saved one of the hardest for last :( I love the Buchanans as if they really were family. They are so amazing and did so much for me. Living with them my first few months on my mission will always be a highlight for me. I had so much fun living with them. I missed late night apple pie with Sister Buchanan and long talks with Brother Buchanan so much when we had to move. I can't wait to come back and visit them and see their berry farm in a few years!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Leaving my heart in Lorain

Even though I knew it was coming, it has been so so SO hard to say good bye to everyone here in this area. I get transferred tomorrow, but I found out that I will still be in this stake!! So I wont be going too far away. 

I don't have a ton to write about this past week, but I have TONS of pictures to send home. Even though I am leaving this area, I would like to introduce you all to the wonderful people I have been so privileged to get to know over the past 6 months.

The Olson Family!! They are all too cute. They fed us so many times over the past six months! [Sometimes even twice a week!] We are always so grateful to the Olsons! Our lessons were always the best with them. They were so much fun!! And Brother and Sister Olson are just about the cutest couple ever and the most wonderful parents. I am going to miss this adorable family so much!! 

Lauren and Christian! This was from a couple of weeks ago when we went to Chritstian's 3rd grade choir concert. They are too cute! Christian is going to be the best little missionary ever one day. 

Good ole Roger :) So Roger got baptized in October of last year. Just picture the old man from Up. Everyone tells me that that is exactly who he was before he was baptized! Grumpy all the time and never wanted to talk to anyone. [He even has a dog that looks just like Doug!] Then his tongue was loosed at baptism! He is always so happy to see everyone at church and loves the church [and the missionaries] more than anything! Every time we see him he goes, "Where's that smile?"

Wonderful dear Sister Kolenich :) How cute is she?? This past week we helped her plant a garden out front, had lunch with her, and she fixed the tear in my skirt for me! There is nothing this woman can't do!! I'm going to miss our Friday nights with her.

Sister LaRue and Meggie!! We visit them once a week as well and always get a good kick out of Meggie who has got to be the funniest [and softest!] cat I have ever met!! We always look forward to our visits with them. Sister LaRue is so sweet and so kind! 
 So we volunteer at the nursing home ever Thursday afternoon and just get to visit with some ladies there for a while. They are TOO GREAT!!! 

This is Eleanor and Katherine. They are roommates and are always such a hoot. Katherine is from Ireland and reminds me so so much of my dear sweet Gran :) Sassy comments and all.

Doris :) This is a girl after my own heart! She loves her jewelry and loves her makeup!!

Dorothy is one of the funniest old ladies! She is 93 years old but you would never guess it! She never remembers us but loves our visits. She tells us the same stories everytime [usually multiple times during the same visit]. This was my favorite conversation with her:
Dorothy: "Well are you girls married?"
Me: "No we aren't married."
Dorothy: "Well do you have a boyfriend?"
Me: "No we don't have a boyfriend. We're missionaries for our church."
Dorothy:".....Do you date??"
Me: "No not during our missions. We can afterwards though."
Dorothy: ".........YOU'RE WRONG!" 
hahahaha she is such a hoot!! She then proceeded to tell us how to get a husband. "Once you find one that you like you just gotta convince him to marry you and then just tell all the other ones *flips her hands up in the air* [as if to tell them to leave" Always a great afternoon with Dorothy :)

Bernice is HILARIOUS!!! We met her the first time we went and then didn't see her again until the last time. When we went in to tell her goodbye and explain that I was getting transferred 15 times she went, "Hey!....more money?" hahaha then proceeded to go through the same thing as Dorothy asking about Husbands and Boyfriends. When I told her I didn't have one she goes, "Hmm....that's strange. Well, what age are you lookin for? I'll look around for ya?" hahaha Then she goes, "Well, ya know. I'm really gonna miss ya. We were friends ya know. We were best friends." hahaha ohh honey. She is too sweet.

I love the Taylor Family so much!!!! They are so incredibly wonderful and take such good care of us missionaries. Thanks to them my favorite meal now is beef on a bun with coleslaw. [Don't hate until you've tried it! It's amazing.] And also this ridiculously good german mac and cheese they make. I'm not even going to try to type it out cause I know I will butcher it. They make me feel as if I am just part of their family!! So much so that we even recreated one of their family pictures!! [Don't worry Jessica! I could never replace you :)] I am going to miss them so much!!!! But I know I will see them again thankfully. Especially since I am rooming with Jessica Taylor in Idaho! 

How crazy is their cat?!?!?! I love him so much!! [but am "still slightly terrified of it"] Their whole family hates it and it doesn't even have a real name!! hahaha They all just call it Kitty. I am seriously going to come back after my mission and kitty nap it. I just crack up ever time I see it!! It is so silly!! They always tell me though that I don't have to steal it, they will happily send it to me!! [In fact don't be surprised if she shows up on your doorstep Mom... :)] They kept wanting to sneak it over to Sister Looney's house and give it to her, but now that plan is kind of foiled. 

Lynn is by far one of my most favorite people I have met while serving in this area!!! She seriously knows EVERYTHING!!! Every time we have any little problem she knows exactly how to fix it. Whether it be a stain on our clothes, the cure for hiccups, or how to know if you have appendicitis!! She's simply brilliant!! 

And of course I wuv my wittle Bruiser!!!!!!! He is so hilarious!! He always freaks out whenever we come over and gets so excited!! He is such a snorty little pig!! I love it!!

We had Zone Training Meeting this week and so I got to see Sister Beaudoin!!!! I miss her so much. Living with them was so much fun!! SO many good memories.

Sister Perrenoud and I have been together since day 1 of our missions!!! It is going to be so sad to have to leave her!!! :'( I love her so much. She is such a blast and such a stellar missionary. I really hope I get to serve around or with her sometime!!!

Beautiful Sister DeWilde and Sister Ebersole!! The two cute little trainees in the area :)

We matched and didn't even realize it until the end of the day!!

Sister Perrenoud introduced us to Woogie Bears. They are amazingly delicious and life changing. It is pretty much just dough rolled out, filled with delicious goodness, then folded over and baked to perfection.

My awesome district!! [Minus Elder Jarvis, he is on exchanges for the week in Sandusky] They are all so much fun!! top to bottom: Elder Stucki, Elder Ketring, ELder Jensen, Sister DeWilde, SIster Perrenoud, SIster Ebersole.

The Maynards!!!!! I am so coming to visit them again when I come back. He tells the best stories!!! And she would always give us cake while we listened to his stories, but once she found out that we are both diabetics she switched to fruit. [Which I actually prefer :)] They are the funniest couple ever!!! 

I'm going to miss my lovely Avon so very much :( 
Bruiser, Plank, and Moose :) [They named their dog Plank so that she could say, "Go walk the Plank!" hahaha too funny.]

I'm going to miss that adorable little red head of mine!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cue One Direction....

Because this was the BEST WEEK EVER!!!!!!
We were SO incredibly blessed this past week. Our area is FINALLY starting to blossom!! Our hard work and obedience is finally starting to bear some fruit. Our numbers for this past week were the best that they have been my whole mission. Okay I know I know, numbers aren't everything, but they are called "key indicators" for a reason. We got lots of new investigators this week who we think are sincerely interested and we are so excited for them. We also got to go to Christian's choir concert this past week which was so much fun. Also kind of weird. We definitely got a lot of strange looks from people. We got a headquarter referral which in this area is practically like manna from heaven. No joke. Things are really picking up lately and we are so incredibly grateful for all of the blessings and miracles we have received this past week.
So Monday night we stopped by Lauren and Christian's house and ended up reading the Book of Mormon with Christian outside on the grass for a little bit. [Lauren wasn't home] This little girl rides up on her bike and is just looking at us and so I asked her if she wanted to read with us. She enthusiastically nodded and came and sat right next to me. She snuggled up to me so she could look at my book and try to follow along. She quickly got bored though and started thumbing through my pages. I gave her some temple pass along cards to keep her occupied and she looks up at me so excitedly and asks, "I can keep these?!" It was so precious. She held them like they were her most prized possessions. It reminded me of Mom's story about the old woman at the Gilbert temple open house and the pamphlets. It was such a sweet moment. I love those little moments that I have while I am on my mission that just make me smile and I remember, "I'm a missionary!!" I still don't think that has fully sunk in yet.
Throughout my mission I have had this really bad habit of being way too hard on myself, setting my expectations way too high, and trying to take on everything at once. Constantly I am having to tell myself to chill out and slow down. I was really struggling with that this past week and this morning I came across a Q&A article in an old Ensign that addressed just that subject. There was story that someone had shared about how he felt the same way while in the MTC. His dad gave him this advice that I loved so very much. "The only way you'll ever be able to eat an entire elephant is one bite at a time." The Lord teaches line upon line, and we must apply that principle to our lives as well. Heavenly Father does not expect me to have 100 lessons, find 50 new investigators, and baptize 15 people every week, so neither should I. As long as I am working my hardest, doing what Christ would do, and trying to bless the lives of others, He will be pleased. I just need to take one bite at a time.
I am almost certain that I will be transferred next week. [Oh FYI P-day will be on Tuesday next week] I am excited for a change, but also know that my heart is going to be ripped out when I leave here. I think that leaving this area is going to be harder than when I left home. I love this area so much, and especially love this AMAZING Great Lorain Ward that I have been so privileged to serve in. I am going to miss the members here more than anything.
I cannot believe that I hit my 6 month mark this week. A year ago I was starting summer camp in Boyarka, Ukraine with my trusted gingy at my side. Today I am on my mission with another gingy by my side. A year from now I will be back home with you all in Arizona. [Elder Havig, you're going to have to be the gingy by my side then :) ] I am loving this incredible journey that Heavenly Father has sent me on. I never would have imagined that my life would have brought me so many amazing adventures. His truly does have the best plan for all of us. It won't always be the easiest plan, but it will be the best.

At mission conference last week!! I love all these sisters so much!! :)