Monday, September 29, 2014

Spiritual Overload

Even though I just wrote home a few days ago, I still have so much to tell you all today!!! Mission Conference was SO AMAZING!!!!! So I'll give you a quick play by play of the whole day.

We had a mission leadership meeting before the actual zones all met together with Elder Teh  [which consisted of the district leaders, zone leaders and sister training leaders]. He is so amazing. Down to earth, funny, bold, and just down right awesome! Considering he hasn't spoken a ton in Conference before I wasn't really sure what to expect. But it was all so great! [Stupid me forgot my notes today though so I will try to recall everything that he taught us as best as I can] He told us how we are responsible for the culture of the mission. Whether good or bad. I especially loved how he said that he recognized that there is a lot asked of us. Not only do we have to do all that we can to help to strengthen our individual areas, but now we also have to help so many other missionaries to strengthen theirs as well. "Whom the Lord calls He qualifies". I have most definitely felt and seen that over the past few weeks. I most definitely did not feel capable of being the sister training leader that these sisters deserved. However, Heavenly Father called me to this position and He most definitely has helped me to fulfill it. I am so grateful for that. For a majority of the time he talked about how he uplift and strengthen the missionaries that we serve. Of course a lot had to do with being humble and loving. Throughout all of the meetings, it was so cool to me to see how many scriptures he used and turned to. He was going so fast sometimes that I honestly had a hard time keeping up. He validated everything he taught us with references to the scriptures.

In the main Mission Conference meeting we had President Titera [the Cleveland Stake President] (we had dinner at his house this week:) ), President Haymond [Kirtland Stake President], Elder Anderson and Miller [the assistants], and President and Sister Vellinga teach us. EVERYTHING they taught was so amazing. Maybe they were all steppin up their game since it was in front of a general authority as well, but it was really all so incredible before Elder Teh even addressed us. One of my favorite things that Elder Teh talked about was missionary work vs. missionary things. Are we doing things because we are missionaries, or are we actually out doing missionary work? I have definitely been guilty of this at time on my mission. We just get so caught up in the routine of things sometimes that we loose the spirit, heart, drive, and purpose behind it all. We have to always be focused and centered on bringing people to Christ. Not just going through the motions. I took so many notes but honestly can't even remember now. I am so ridiculously tired today. These past couple of weeks are really starting to catch up with me. This week is going to be even crazier. [5 hour long mission leadership council, Zone Training Meeting, General Conference, and then 3 exchanges on top of that. Yay.] Although I do love staying busy much more than having too much time when things are slow. So I will promise to bring my notebook next week and tell you more about what he talked about. [Oh that reminds me! Transfers are next week. So Preparation day will be on Tuesday. So don't freak out and call the mission office again....]

So after all of mission conference was over President excused Elder Teh so that he could catch his flight really quick. Before we all got up to leave he quickly announced "I need to see a few missionaries really quick up front before they leave." He called my name first and I immediately freaked out. I don't know why but for some reason whenever something like that happens with President I get so scared that I am in trouble. It's like when Dad would calls our name across the house and tell us to come here. I just start racking my brain to think if there is anything I am in trouble for. Even if I know I haven't done anything wrong, I still get scared! So President called me and 3 other missionaries out and then told us that Elder Teh wanted to interview us. WHAT?! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!??! My heart started racing and I was the first one to go in and so I had no time to gather my thoughts at all [Or my tears. The closing song was "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." Gets me everytime!] So I was totally flustered when I walk in there and then he asks me to say the prayer for us. Thankfully I could calm down by the time we said amen. It was such a neat experience! He asked about my physical health, my spiritual health, my family, [If Erin is going to serve a mission. He said, "Well, if she feels that she needs to then she will" So there's some personal advice for you from a Seventy Erin!:)] He asked how long I had been a sister training leader, how that was going, how the work has been. I talked about how I had felt being called as a sister training leader and he goes, "yes, it is a very humbling experience. You can learn a lot from the sisters you serve. But no, Heavenly Father never makes a mistake." I immediately wrote down every thing I could remember about in my journal afterwards. I was so touched that he wanted to email you guys! That was a really nice surprise. That will most definitely be an experience I remember for a lifetime. I also was really excited that both Steph and I got to be interviewed by General Authorities on our missions :)

Saturday we helped out at a baptism for a little girl in the ward. We gave a talk and shared the "Because of Him" video while she was changing after the baptism. No matter how many times I see that video it is so powerful every time! No matter who it is that is getting baptized, whether I know them super well or not, I always get choked up at baptisms. And it makes me miss my Poppa Bear a whoooooooole lot. I am so grateful that Dad has the priesthood and was able to baptize all of his girls and help them to start their lives out on the right path back to our Father in Heaven. We are so blessed to know that we are an eternal family. 

How awesome was the General Women's Broadcast?! I thought it was really interesting how last April in the Women's broadcast they focused a lot on making and keeping our baptismal covenants and then this time was all about temple covenants. I miss the temple so much. That is the number one thing I miss most out here. I so badly wish that we had a temple in our mission. Well....a working one I suppose. The Kirtland temple is wonderful as well. I loved that video they shared of all of the different women that testified of the importance and blessings of the temple. Especially the last one that said that we should "never stop taking steps towards the temple". Even though I am a missionary and can't attend the temple right now, I still need to be working towards going back again and keeping my covenants. Also, that was really great of Elder Uchtdorf to write a talk just for me. I guess since Elder Teh and I are so tight now he put in a good word for me. ;)

Wow, this email is super long. Sorry! Promise I'm almost done. Yesterday the bishopric had asked all of the missionaries to fill in for the primary teachers so that they could attend the third hour meeting that was all combined. Oh my goodness. It was so much fun!!!! All the kids were together and we just had to sit with them and keep them quiet and well behaved. I was with the four year olds and they were the cutest things ever!! I had two super crazy little boys sitting next to me, but I pretty much just kept laughing the whole time I was trying to quiet them. They were hilarious. Then down at the end of the class Elder Anderson was sitting with the little girls and the one next to him just kept staring up at him and playing with his face. It was so great. The kids loved having the missionaries in there with them! I miss being a primary teacher so much! That was probably one of my favorite callings ever. Well, and being a missionary is pretty great too :)

I am so excited for General Conference this week!! As we have been meeting with members the past month we have been sharing Mosiah 1:2-3 and discussing how we can prepare for General Conference. Sister Maddox and I have been listening to last conference addresses in the car while we drive. Also I love studying the talks every morning during studies. You really do get so much more out of them when you ready and study them than when you just listen to them. 

I am so grateful for this gospel. Sadly sometimes I take this knowledge for granted. We have so many answers in life that some people have no idea about. And possibly never will. I know that this gospel is true. I know that it brings the greatest joy in this life. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Our grandpa he's Tarzan."

Are you ready for this? This week was nuts!

So I will start with the most exciting and then go from there. [So that the skimmers can get the good stuff then move on with their lives]

Gladys Knight graced Ohio with her presence this weekend!!! Oh my goodness the firesides were AMAZING!!! There aren't even words to describe them. Not going to lie, the first 10 seconds I was super weirded out and just kept thinking, " going on...?!" But then once I got used to the "Amen!"'s and dancing then it was great!! I so wish that you all could have been there! I kind of wish that I was baptist now....[Well, ya know. If they had the priesthood, restored gospel, and modern revelation and all] The music was incredible. Both her and her husband bore such bold and powerful testimonies. I was actually kind of surprised and nervous about them. Because they were really bold. But apparently that's what some people needed! We have seen SO MANY miracles in our mission so far!! We have 2 former investigators that want to be baptized. We were talking to some Elders out in Cleveland and they had gotten 3 new investigators from the gift bag deliveries and they all want to be baptized! And we got so many request cards turned in from the firesides that we haven't even gotten all of them yet because the mission had to order more gift bags! We got around 380 just from the two here in Westlake. And the 2 in Akron got about 220. And this is just the beginning! We are stoked to see the ripple effect from this event. 

Our mission is just full of Mormon celebrities lately! Our Zone Conference with Elder Michael John U. Teh is this Friday!!! I am so excited!! Especially since all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders get to have a special meeting with him an hour before Zone Conference. I am so excited. I can't wait to tell you all about it next week!

Last preparation day was crazy! [Sorry no one got letters last week.] We all went to the zoo with some Cleveland Elders and it was such a blast! It was so nice to get out and do something different for a change. There are tons of pictures coming this week from the zoo :) Also, we had to take our car into the shop last Monday to get some repairs done. [From when Sister Maddox was in that accident last transfer] And so guess what....we became biking sisters!!!! Biking home from North Ridgeville to our apartment in Westlake [from my last apartment in Lorain East to this apartment. Took us almost an hour] Monday night in pouring rain will definitely make you feel like a real hard core missionary! Thankfully though we had exchanges with both sets of Strongsville Sisters last week and so I was gone for three of the days. Then Thursdaynight at our coordination meeting the Assistants found out we were on bikes. They were like, "Wait...what? Why are you biking? You don't have to do that. You can have our car." They are SO WONDERFUL!! They really didn't have to do that. They are so kind. We were super excited though. Especially because they drive the nicest car in the mission! It was really fun. 

So both last night and this morning I got to go home!! Last night we were helping a less active member move her son out of his apartment up in Avon Lake and then this morning all of us North Olmsted sisters went and got haircuts from Sister Buchanan :) It was so much fun!! I miss that area so much. And it is so awesome that both Sister Maddox and I have served there and so we can reminisce together. 

Last Sunday we had this AWESOME lesson with some potential investigators that Sister Maddox and Sister Bakker met on exchanges. They said that they were interested in hearing more about Kirtland and wanted to visit there. So when we were planning for it were like, "Okay, so how do we tactfully yet sneakily teach the restoration with this?" Which of course wasn't hard at all. We sat down with the couple and right away the lady goes, "So we're Catholic. We aren't really interested in changing or anything." Haha ohh that's what you say now! But it was clear that she was nicely trying to tell us, "Don't try to convert us!" We were able to teach them the whole Restoration because it leads right into Kirtland. It was great. And they told us that they didn't really know anything about our beliefs anyways. It was so neat to see the spirit working on them during the whole lesson. By the end of it the husband was like, "Well I don't actually practice Catholicism much anymore. But yeah I have always wondered that ya know. I think that there was some truth lost along the way in the Catholic church. Not all of those popes were really great people you know?" Then we talked about the Book of Mormon and they both really wanted to read it and said that they would even pay for it. "Lucky for you! It's free!" Haha it cracks me up when people want to pay for the Book of Mormon. Seriously? We try everything we can to get people to take this book from us! You don't need to pay us! They are SO PREPARED!!! We are taking them each a Book of Mormon and a Restoration DVDtomorrow night and then going back this weekend to watch the Restoration with them. I am so excited about them!! Pray for Greg and Marylou!!

For the past month or so I have been reading a conference talk each morning during studies to get ready for General Conference. This morning I happened to read Elder Walker's talk called Live True to the Faith I love how he talks about everyone knowing their ancestors conversion story. So I went and reread Edward Bunker Sr's autobiography that Mom sent me. Not that I am biased at all, but I LOVE his story so much. He was converted right here in Cleveland!!!!! By Martin Harris of all people. Awesome. And by me serving my mission here I am fulfilling prophesy that the descendants of those early saints that were here will come back to build it up. Ooh! Just gives me chills talking about it! I love it!

Also random awesome side note. This Mormon Message is amazing. Thank you so much Mom for all you have done for your family. We really do appreciate it. I'm sure you have had a number of days like this in your life, but you have served and helped so many. Us as well as those around you who just need your help. You are an incredible example of service to all of us. 

(Then I asked Amber what her subject line meant and she said the following:)

hahahaha we met a little girl on the street. Probably like 5 years old and when we gave her  a picture of Christ she just looked at it for a minute.....then looked up and said that to us. It was HILARIOUS!!! We were so confused!! I wanted to say, "Well go give your mom that card and we can tell your where your grandpa really is!" hahaha SHe was so cute. 

2 pics from Sis Genster:

At the zoo:

"Ohhhh elders..."

Elder Mitchell is hilarious! He reminds me  a lot of Elder Bruce! Err....Chris Bruce. He's home now. Weird.

From riding bikes... to riding in style...

"Before a stem can grow tall, the roots must grow deep."

So much happened this week. I honestly don't even know where to start. We'll start in the middle! that sounds good. 

So we had back to back exchanges this week with the Sandusky sisters and I was the one that stayed in our area here. Psh....I've been here a week! I don't know the area at all! But thankfully it went MUCH better than I thought it was going to. Just a wee bit stressful is all. And TONS of driving this week. I made the trip from Westlake to Norwalk and back 3 times. Which is a little over 6 hours. Ugh. That alone was enough to make me want to nap for the next 4 days. But I got to be with Sister Tuioti again!!!! It was so much fun!! The whole day we kept being like, "We trained for this we are actually out here in the mission field doing it!!!" It was really awesome. Unfortunately we didn't really have too much success that day. One of our lessons with a less active somehow took a wrong turn without us realizing and all of a sudden she was talking about things that we did not want to hear about it. It was actually kind of funny afterwards. We got caught in the rain and went home drenched that night, but we had so much fun together! It is so crazy that we are both half way done. 

The next day I was with Sister Beaudoin and oh my goodness. She is so amazing. She definitely helped me way more than I helped her on the exchange. I was really struggling this past week feeling like I was cut out to be a Sister Training Leader and all of these other things. [Thinking I had to be perfect, wasn't working hard enough, etc] But she helped me truly understand Heavenly Father's nature so much better and how He cares about His children. While we were weeding an elderly ladies yard the subject of priesthood blessings had come up. I have been thinking for a few weeks now that I need to get one, but just kept pushing it aside. Sister Beaudoin just stopped and looked at me and said, "If your Dad was here, would he want to give you a blessing?" And I told her of course he would. And then she goes, "Well, your Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can comprehend wants to give you a blessing too." I knew she was right. The next evening after dinner Elder Anderson gave me such a wonderful blessing that I knew was right from my Heavenly Father. I know that He does truly love me and is proud and grateful for the work and effort I am putting into my mission. Sometimes I just seem to loose sight of that and end up being way too hard on myself. That morning during studies as we were discussing it more Sister Beaudoin shared Helaman 10:4-5 with me and said, "This is what Heavenly Father wants me to share with you." She had me put my name in it and read it out loud. I was so overcome with how much Heavenly Father loves me. I was in tears and could barely finish the verses. I think sometimes I tend to view Heavenly Father as a harsh and unforgiving God, but that is not who He is at all. He is kind, loving, understanding, and merciful. She also shared these two talks with me: O Remember, Remember andBecoming Perfect in Christ which helped a ton!! I am so grateful for Sister Beaudoin. She is an absolutely stellar missionary and amazing person. 

I know Heavenly Father loves me. I know that He truly does know me personally and individually. I know that no matter what, He is always there for me. 

Pictures from exchanges:

Picture with an old investigator:

So last night we got to help out at a Stake Youth Missionary Fireside (It is pretty much training for the future missionaries of the world! haha) And I saw Michael there!!! I taught him my last couple of weeks in Avon and he got baptized about a month later!!!! He is so precious and so great!! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meep, meep!

All I want to do is sleep!! So now I understand why everyone told me that I would just be tired ALL THE TIME as a sister training leader. It's exhausting! Hopefully that was just because it was the first week and I was still transitioning. Also we had TONS to do this first week. It's been great though. I love it. However, I don't even know what to tell you about this week. That's why I sent a whole bunch of pictures so that you don't get upset that this e-mail will be so short. 

It's been fun getting to know some of the other members in the ward now. It's kind of sad but when there's three sets of missionaries in the ward then you really only get to know the members in your area. Unless your lucky and get to serve in two areas! [I keep joking that I'll become an assistant and take over their area next. Thankfully I know that won't happen] 

We already did our first exchange this transfer! I wasn't actually all that scared because I was just going back to my old area to help them meet some people and adjust. It was weird because I didn't even feel like I was on exchange. Just back home there! I thought it was hard when I left Lorain and was still so close to that area, but now I am even closer to that area, and my new area! My area now borders both of them. So weird. I wouldn't be surprised if I served within a ten miles radius my whole mission. 

Other than that things are good though! This transfer is going to be crazy with everything that is happening in it. We have the Saints Unified Voices Fireside [Gladys Knight}, Elder Teh's visit, General Conference, and somehow have to fit in 8 exchanges around that. Oh and it's a five week transfer. Yipee! Talk about throwing ya in the deep end. It will be exciting though. That's for sure!

Great great great great Grandpa Olds!!!! Sister Genster found the portrait of a Nathan Olds there but somehow I had missed it. But thankfully they had postcards of it in the gift shop!!! Gotta love those rockin sunglasses. 

I'm pretty proud of how much we were able to cross off our bucket list this transfer!

I already miss her so much :(

She has wanted to go to McDonald's since she got to America. haha so we had to do it real quick right before transfer meeting. 

Sister Maddox! She's actually my grandma! So that's fun. 

Some of the best zone leaders ever! Elder Stucki and Elder Jarvis. I served out in Lorain with them.

SISTER PERRENOUD!!! Love her so stinkin much. We can't wait to be roomies up in Rexburg.

How did I forget these?! The wonderful Miss Oliver whipped out the accordion for us this week!! 


Sister Franklin and the Tryons :) I am so sad to be switching areas but am so happy that I still get to at least see my members at church! 

I was so sad to have to say goodbye to the Tryons though! [They are too old and frail to go to church now :( ] While we were on exchanges I got to say goodbye to them though and Brother Tryon had us sing God Be With You Til We Meet Again. I was in tears. He was in tears. It was so heartbreaking. Goodbyes are probably one of the hardest things on a mission. 

September 2: "Won't it be great when we're all dead?!" -Brother Quist

I think this is the "trunkiest" I have ever gotten during emails. Everyone is having so much fun without me!! But that actually makes for way better emails than " is boring. Nothing is new." So I'm glad that you are all  having a blast back home. [Or wherever in the world you are] 

This past week was awesome. So busy with all of this SUV Gladys Knight Fireside coming up. We are so lucky that it is right here in our area at our church building! People are coming all the way from Toledo to come to this! [That's far in our terms out here]. We had a huge training meeting Saturday for it and it was practically like a mini mission conference! All of the missionaries from here in Cleveland til all the way west of our mission were there. President is going all out with this thing. It's going to be HUGE! 

So last week we found out that Sister Genster is going to finish training a sister in Bowling Green and I am SO SAD to have her leave! I have gotten teary eyed every time she has had to say goodbye to someone. I do not want her to leave me. These past 3 months seemed like a week to us! She is so wonderful and honestly just perfect in every way. I am so stoked for our European tour in a couple years!

Last night we were in our last appointment with a member for the day and half way through we got a text from President that says, "Sister Olds please call me. President Vellinga." Now if that doesn't make you just about pee your skirt than I don't know what would!!!! I was terrified!! I don't know why but my first thought was, "I'm in trouble!!!!" My heart was pounding the rest of the lesson and I could hardly even pay attention. Poor Sister Genster. She totally had to take the reins on that one. She could tell that something was up though. [Side note: she is sitting next to me right now having the hardest time emailing her family in german. bahahaha She just throws her hands up and goes "I just want to write in english!!! It doesn't make sense in german!" Too great.] As soon as we got out of the apartment she goes, "What is it?!" haha and so I showed her the message and she gets all excited and thinks it's something good. She so positive and wonderful. We called him back as soon as we got home and he said that he wanted to call me to be a sister training leader. I was so excited at first!! But then got really confused. Wait....what is going to happen to our area then?!?! So after a long phone call and figuring it out here is what is happening. There are two sets of sisters and the assistants in the ward here. I am joining Sister Maddox as sister training leader in the other sister area of the ward and then two new sisters are taking over our area. I am so ridiculously worried about it! I couldn't even sleep last night cause I was so worried about leaving all of the people we have been working with. This week is going to be so crazy. We are going to go on exchanges as needed to help them transition into the area. I just trust that President and Heavenly Father know what they are doing. Thankfully though I am still in the same ward same apartment. But I feel so unprepared to be a sister training leader!! I don't know anything! Okay, that's not true, but still I am really nervous. 

Also....I hit 9 months in two days........WHAT?!?!?! Weird...Weird. Weird. WEIRD!!!! Everyone told me that time was going to go crazy fast, but I never believed them. I cannot believe that I am halfway done already. So crazy. 

Thank you so much for all of the emails, letters, and support. [Sorry I am so behind on writing back...I'll get there though!] I know that I couldn't be out here doing what I am doing without knowing that I have so many people praying for me and cheering me on back home. I love you and miss you all more than you know.

This rainbow was WAY brighter than the pictures make it out to be. And it stretched all the way across the sky!! It was so awesome! The skies here kind of give AZ skies a run for their money. Never thought I would say that!

The wonderful Sister Slujalkovsky! She is so sassy and so great. I love her!

Gardening with Sister Wysocki :)