Monday, October 27, 2014

I love miracles!!

There are so many people out here that I have met [and will yet meet] that I know Heavenly Father has sent me out here to find and to help. One of which being Sister Kane. I don't think I have told you about her before. She is a less active member that we have been meeting with for the past couple of months now. I met her last transfer when I was on exchanges with Sister Beaudoin. She was a new name on the ward list that no one knew anything about, so of course they send the missionaries to investigate! :) We stopped by late one night [well, late in missionary world...8:30] and she actually let us right in! I'm not sure who she thought we were because a few seconds later she sees our tags and goes, "Oh're from the church..." Very reluctantly she let us sit down and we just visited with her for a little bit and got to know her more. Turns out that she had just moved there a couple weeks ago and this was her first time living alone, both of her daughters had been in horrible accidents on the same day, and so many other things in her life seemed to be falling apart. At the end of our visit the wonderful Sister Beaudoin asked if we could share a scripture. She shared John 14:27 with her. By the end of it she was in tears. We testified of how only Christ can give us that true and lasting peace in our life. The spirit was so strong during the whole lesson. She kept saying, "You girls have something. There's something special here." Yeah! The Spirit! So now fast forward to this past week. We have been meeting with her much more frequently since then. We stopped by one night this week and were discussing Elder Uchtdorf's talk with her from Women's Conference. We brought up the idea of teaching her all of the missionary discussions. I have NEVER seen anyone get that excited about it before! It was so amazing!! Her eyes got all big and she goes, "YES! That is such a genius idea! Why have we not thought of that before! Whose idea was that?? Let's do it!!" We were in shock! To see the change from when we first met to her to her now being overjoyed and thrilled with the idea of taking all of the lessons again is truly miraculous. I love love LOVE seeing how the gospel changes people. 

Another miracle this week: Jojo has a baptismal date!!!! Okay this isn't a huge shock because we know that she wanted to be baptized, but now it is more official! Her date is for December 25. haha I love it. She says that that is the date that keeps coming to mind when she prays about it! Sadly the Elders in Lorain will start taking over more of the teaching this week since she technically lives in their area. Jojo is definitely another one of those people that I know I was sent out here to help. I love her SO MUCH!! I can't wait to come back after my mission and hang out with her. She is so awesome. 

We had the ward Trunk or Treat this week! It made me miss Voyager Ward and our awesome Fall Festivals so much! There was no dunk tank and no ginormous water balloon sling shot this time. Someone needs to teach Ohioans how to throw a Fall Festival! Also we had the Primary Program yesterday! Which once again made me miss Voyager Ward. I couldn't help but think of little Becca Hernandez trying to choke herself the whole time up there. But of course there were some good laughs here as well. The whole theme was on families and so of course I got a wee bit choked up. I'm beginning to realize, I haven't seen y'all in a long time! 

I feel like a lot of times there will be different themes throughout my mission. Lately I have had a new one. "You can count the seeds in an apple, but you cant count the apples in a seed." [Nope, not that brilliant. I got it from a talk from Elder Maxwell] I have been noticing more and more [and I know that even more go unnoticed] that we truly never know what good comes from the things that we do. Just today I got an email from a friend who was telling me about how he was able to share with someone else the things that he had learned from me in order to help them. You just never know what ripple effect our good deeds, and words, can have. I know that there are a number of days out here where I ask myself if any good is actually coming from what I do, but there is!! There's tons of it! And even if I don't get to see what good does come from it, I know that I am a part of the Lord's work and that even the smallest of seeds planted helps to move it forward just that much more. 

I love my mission. 


Sister Jarvis hit her 9 month mark!!!

I raked leaves for the FIRST TIME EVER this week!!!!! We raked for the Stoddard's and for the Francis' while I was on exchanges with Sister O'Banion and it was such a blast!! Sister Francis made me jump in them since I had never done it before. I had way too much fun. 

The Hook Family! They are the CUTEST family in the entire world. [Brother Hook is taking the picture]  I seriously just want to be them. So we got there for dinner and their little girl Elyse had a dress on and she told us, "She wanted to wear a dress to match the missionaries." How cute is that?!?! They are so great. 

This is Sister Kane's venus fly trap and it is awesome!! She catches flies to feed it. I keep telling her that we are going to come over some day and it will have gone all little shop of horrors on her and she is going to try and feed us to it.

That's Brother Olmsted photo bombing in the back. Yes. There is an Olmsted family in the North Olmsted Ward. Love it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"All I know is that they bleed out of their eyes..." -Elder Miller

Clearly the Ebola virus is all the talk around here. Apparently there was someone in Cleveland who was in contact with it. Super. 

What an awesome week!! So much going on. So last weekend we had Stake Conference [yeah it was kind of weird having it right after General Conference]. But I LOVED it because I got to see all of my Lorain Ward Family!!!!! Oh man. I love and missed them so so so so much! It seriously was like a huge family reunion over and over again seeing everyone. And they all would get so excited when they found out that Sister Maddox and I are companions. It was so funny. I can't wait for you all to meet them when we come back. [Well, if they all stop moving. So many families have moved out from that ward. :( It makes me sad.] 

We had exchanges with the Strongsville Sisters this past week and the drive down there was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!! We ran into President Kerr on the way down there and he had us go a different way to avoid construction and it was this long winding road through the Metroparks.  Honestly the pictures can't even do it justice. I felt like we were in a movie or something! The fall colors here are so stunning. They might be starting to steal my heart away from the beauty of the desert. We will have to come back in the fall so that you can all see them for yourselves. They truly are indescribable. 

Kirtland with Jojo!!!! I love Kirtland so much. [But I am SO happy that I am a full pros sister and not a Kirtland sister. I don't know how they do it! So busy all the time] It was such a great experience though! We were able to do the tour at the Kirtland temple as well as at the Historic Sites. So the Kirtland temple is owned by the Community of Christ Church and so they are the ones that do the tour. It was really interesting to us how they kind of brushed over all of the significant events that happened there. [i.e. Christ appearing in the temple to Joseph Smith, visits from Moses, Elias, and Elijah, the vision of the celestial kingdom and seeing his brother Alvin, etc.] Even Jojo noticed the difference in the feeling of the spirit at each place. She said how there was a feeling of love at the temple of course, but the spirit just wasn't there. It was a big difference to the feeling at the School of the Prophets though. That was her favorite part! It is an incredible experience and opportunity to be able to teach about the Word of Wisdom in the room where it was first received! The spirit was so strong. [Even though all of the kids were going crazy a little bit]

I can't remember if I told you about this before or not, but every Friday we go and volunteer at a nursing home and do what they call "Friday Flowers". A local wholesale florist sells them old or unusable flowers for super cheap and we get to help the residents put them into arrangements. It is so much fun and always a highlight of the week! So this past week I was helping a cute old man named Richard to put his flowers together. The whole time he just kept saying how all of the flowers were so beautiful. As I was helping him I snipped a little purple daisy and put it in his shirt pocket and he looks down at it and gets the hugest smile on his face, starts giggling, and then looks at me and pats me on my face. It was so sweet and so precious! It made me smile :)

Thank you so much for the package Momma!!!!!! I love it so so so much!! My favorite part was the talks that you sent me. They are SO AMAZING!!!! I have already read all of them and taken pages and pages of notes on them! Thank you so much!! Also my boots look super good now ;) 

So Elder Oaks talk, Good, Better, Best,  has been on my mind a lot lately for the past few months. As I have come to know Heavenly Father so much better on my mission, I feel like I have also come to know the adversary that much better as well. I have realized just how cunning he is. I think that this whole idea of Good, Better, and Best is one of his biggest weapons. So often he keeps people from reaching their full potential. You have no idea the number of people that we meet out here that say, "All you need is Christ and your good." or "Don't worry I believe in Christ. I'm good." I just want to grab them sometimes and say, "Why are you settling for good?!?!?" There is SO MUCH MORE! We can be our best. We can have the best. We can do the best. It breaks my heart to see how strong an influence Satan can have in peoples lives without them even realizing it, because they're "doing good". I am so grateful for this gospel that encourages us, inspires us, and teaches us that we can continually be better. I was reading a talk from Elder Neal A. Maxwell this morning, "But for a Small Moment", [thanks Mom:) ] and he talks about how time is non-existent to God. He sees who we were, who we are, and who we can become all in front of him. While sometimes we only see a few tiles at a time, He can see the whole mosaic of who He can shape us into. I know that the Lord has a perfect plan for me, and for all of His children. I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to help more of His children to realize that there is so much more to life; that they have more potential than they ever thought.


We are so lucky that we got to go to Kirtland in the fall! It was GORGEOUS!!!

Like I said, pictures just can't do it justice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Up, down, and all around.

1 Nephi 13:12 -Well, you can thank that inspired man that you didn't get an email from me yesterday. Sorry!

What a week, what a week. We had some awesome lessons, some hilarious lessons and some heart breaking lessons.

We'll start with the awesome though. We have been meeting pretty frequently with Jojo and it has been so great! She gets more and more excited about and committed to the gospel each time we see her. We are going to Kirtland this Friday with her and her son and the Wrights. We are so stoked!! Joseph Smith is kind of her biggest hold back right now. We are so blessed to serve this close to where so much church history was made. Pray that she will have an amazing experience!

So for our hilarious lesson: We meet with quite a few less active members that live in nursing homes in our area. We were meeting with Sister Blackmur one night and it was after she had just taken some pain medication or something. Ohhhh boy. Background info: she really really loves dogs. We were talking about general conference with her and how we can receive personal revelation. Towards the beginning of the lesson she stops us and says that she has a question for us. She goes on and on about God and animals for quite some time and we can't really figure out what she is saying. Then it clicked and I ask, "Oh! Are you wondering if God has pets?" Bingo. She was extremely concerned that Heavenly Father might not have any pets. We talked about the creation and since He created all the animals then we guess that all of them are his pets. That comforted her a bit.She started talking about seeing her pets in heaven again and how they will run across the rainbow bridge or something? I'm not sure. I kind of got lost in the middle for a bit. Then when we asked how we can receive revelation or guidance in our lives from Heavenly Father she pauses for a moment and then just simply says, "Dogs!" Oooookay. It was about time for us to go and let her get some rest. It was too funny though. She is so hilarious. I love her to death! [I actually met her on my first exchange on my mission. She was the one that asked me to get her some chocolates and reminded me of our dear sweet Gran.]

We had a lesson with one of our recent converts this past week who has decided that the church just isn't for him now. [He actually got baptized my first week in this ward and I got to go]. We talked with him for about 2 hours and the more and more we spoke the more our hearts broke. It is mind boggling to me to see how quickly Satan has gotten a hold of him and made him deny everything that he once knew. After that lesson Sister Maddox and I just went home and cried and cried. That was hands down the hardest lesson I have had my whole mission.

So I started reading "Our Heritage" last week and it is so good! Have you all read that book? If not then you should go read it! The strength and faith of those early saints is one of the most impressive things to me. I always wonder if I lived back then if I would have the faith necessary to endure all that they had to go through. I am so grateful that they did persevere and trust in the Lord through so much. The trials that I have had to go through in life seem like nothing at all compared to what they suffered through. It definitely puts things in perspective.

I love you all so much!! Thank you for your prayers. I hope you know that they truly do make a difference.

We went to the Art Museum again last week and so of course I had to get a pic with good ole stylin Grandpa Olds!

Also yesterday since we had so much extra time we went and walked around downtown Cleveland. We went to a little civil war memorial they have and look who I found! Thomas Olds! Do we have someone in our family that fought in the civil war that was from Cleveland? We have family all over the place here!

I love the art museum!!

The crew. Sisters Slade, Jarvis, and Maddox and Elder Biddulph and Taylor.

Found these lil buddies

Just chillin in the crosswalks!
I seriously love Cleveland SO MUCH!! it's my favorite. I love serving this close to it. 

We have faith in Cleveland too!!

Rock and Roll hall of fame

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Moral of the story...We got Zombies people!"-Roumanti

Well, I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord truly does bless His missionaries with strength and energy. Otherwise there would have been NO way that I could have made it through this week. It was so crazy. But also so awesome! So we had three exchanges last week since we had to squeeze the last ones in before the transfer ended. For one of them I was biking out in Lakewood for the day. It was SO FUN but also SO EXHAUSTING!!!! Holy cow. I am so out of shape. Those hills were killer. My whole bottom half was super sore for the next three days. But we were able to contact so many more people! I would actually love to be in a biking area someday. [But probably not going to happen with my diabetes. Sister Vellinga is very strict on that. That's how we got the Assistant's car before] 

We had Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday which took most of the day. It was awesome!! So many perks in this mission! Guess what...we saw Meet the Mormons!!!!!! It is amazing!!!! Oh my goodness. New favorite movie. You all have to go see it when it comes out. It is so inspiring, funny, awesome, and just all around wonderful. I can't even tell you what my favorite part was because all of it was my favorite. President is showing it to the whole mission during Zone Conferences next month. I can't wait to see it again! That night the Vellinga's had all of us North Olmsted Sisters over for dinner. I love them so much. They are so incredible. I asked President how he felt when he got called to be a Mission President and he said, "I was scared out of my mind!" Then he goes, "But if I knew you were coming Sister Olds..." and at the same time we both went "I would have been even more scared!" hahaha He is so great. I have loved serving in his ward for so long and getting to know him better. It is such a privilege. I asked them how they met [my favorite question to ask at dinners with members. It is so funny to see how couples respond to that question and hear their stories] Apparently President stole Sister Vellinga away from some missionary she was waiting for. Then President's brother got called to that same mission where the old boyfriend was serving and he was the one that picked him up from the airport! Too great. Then they went to his mission homecoming with their first born girl! 

So while I was on exchanges with Sister McIntire [LOVE HER! Can't wait to be her companion someday. We are creepy alike and both know Toree Day!! So fun!] we had this AMAZING lesson. We were going to deliver a gift bag from the Gladys Knight Fireside. I have never met someone so prepared for the gospel before. She absolutely loved the fireside and was so excited to get a Book of Mormon. She already loves it and hasn't even read a word of it! The spirit was so strong throughout the whole lesson and the things that she would say just astounded me. "I feel like there is more that we have to do in order to get to heaven. Like it is not all just based off of our good works." YES! "I think that sometimes God knocks in our lives when He knows that we are ready to learn more. I think you girls are my knock." YES! And so many other things like that. It was so awesome!! I am so sad that I won't get to teach her because she is in the Lakewood Ward, but I am still SO excited for her!! 

We all know General Conference was amazing. Not that I am biased at all, but President Klebingat's was by far my favorite!!! I couldn't even take notes fast enough! [Granted he was talking a million words a minute]. And so many other people here loved his too. It was so cool to be talking about his talk yesterday at District Meeting and just thinking, "He is still influencing SO many missionaries!!" I am still so grateful to him for allowing me to see Steph in Ukraine. I highly doubt that I would be out here otherwise. I mean, I'm sure the Lord would have got me here some other way, but I like the way it turned out. Also I absolutely LOVED Elder Scott's talk. I loved the focus all throughout conference on the small and simple things. I feel like that has been a common theme for me for the past few months. It truly is those small and simple things that can make the biggest difference in our lives. [Alma 37:6]

We got 2 new investigators this week!! They are both so awesome. So the first one was actually a former investigator that I had met when I served in Lorain. She actually lives in Avon Lake and I helped her move into her apartment when I served there. She is a nanny for a family in the ward here in our area and so we have gotten to know her really well cause she is almost always there when we are. She went to the Gladys Knight Fireside and now wants to get baptized!! So we started teaching her this week and she is awesome!! It is so neat to see the spirit work on people and help them to understand the gospel. I absolutely love Jojo!! She is so sassy. She is pretty much our best friend. Our other new investigator was a total shock to us and such a miracle!! So we only had a little bit of time before we had to head home for call ins Sunday night and we decided to stop by one of our less active members that we had been trying to meet with but hadn't been able to for a while. We knocked and were really surprised when someone answered. It was her fiance, Roumanti [not sure on spelling....], and he goes, "'s the girls again." And Sister Haithcock told him to have us come in. He goes,"What?! We're letting them in?!" It was actually really funny. We go and sit down with them and just start visiting a bit. We talked about conference and a few of the different things that we learned. Eventually the conversation turned to how they were having some difficulties in their relationship and wanted to know what would help. She mentioned how it kind of worried her that they had different beliefs. We asked him about what his beliefs and religious background was and he comes from almost everything! Catholic, Baptist, Jehovah's Witness. He kept saying how he has learned about so many religions and he's "studied them all!" I asked him if he had ever learned about ours and he goes, "" We talked about how we could teach him about it and he could come to learn and decide for himself if it is true. We testified about how the gospel not only helps individuals but also families, couples, and all relationships. He brought up how he is doesn't like "titles" though. I told him about what William McDowell {Gladys Knight's husband} talked about at the fireside. He said, "I'm not a Mormon. I don't even know what a Mormon is! I am a follower of Jesus Christ." That did it for him. It clicked. He got real excited, clapped his hands, pointed at me and just said, "Yes! E-xactly!" We are so stoked to start teaching them together! She has told us before how she knows that she needs to come back and does really want the gospel in her life, but it is just hard for her to do. She is excited too and says how a refresher will be good for her. We left their home in awe! That was such an unexpected miracle!

Oh man, sorry this one is so long again. I think I get carried away sometimes and think that I am just writing in my journal or something. But I am just so excited about all of the things going on here!! 

So it has been interesting to me to see how many of the sisters that I have gone on exchanges with this past transfer are having struggles that either I have faced on my mission or am currently facing. I think sometimes the Lord gives us things to overcome and face so that we will be able to help others with those same challenges down the road. That clever guy...I truly am grateful for what I have been able to learn from the trials I have had on my mission. I think I am finally starting to see how the Lord is shaping and refining me. It has been an interesting and not always that easy of a process, but a wonderful one nonetheless. 

Our awesome district. [Minus Elder Anderson and Elder Miller]

I love Sister McIntire so much!!! She is so wonderful. 

Thank you for the Halloween package!!!! We loved it :)