Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." -John 17:4

These past 18 months] have been the longest and fastest of my life!! Words cannot even begin to adequately describe how I am feeling or what I have experienced. Actually, for the past week I have felt pretty numb. It honestly just does not seem real to me. I am still waiting for it to click in my head, but I am guessing that it won't click for a couple more days now...My mind keeps rudely reminding me all the time though, "This is the last time you will take the sacrament as a missionary." "This is the last time you will speak be in the St. Marys branch." "This is the last time you will see so and so." And on and on! I hate it! Yet still with all of that happening, it doesn't feel real.

I gave a farewell talk this past Sunday in the wonderful St. Marys branch and ooooh boy. I talked about my decision to serve a mission. Thinking back on that night in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine and being where I am at now, on this side of it all is absolutely amazing. I know that Heavenly Father saw for me that night what I could not. He knew what incredible experiences lay ahead, the amazing people I would meet, and how I would be changed forever. 

All that I have gone through for the past year and a half truly has helped to shape me into who Heavenly Father needs me to be. I will never be able to fully thank him for the immense blessing my mission has been. I know that it will bless me for eternity. 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."     [2 Timothy 4:7] 
AMEN TO THAT! Yes, missions are wonderful, but man are they HARD!! There were many a days where I got home at night and did feel as though I had just walked off the battle field. This is a fight that we are in, and it will not end in two days when I am forced to take off my name badge. This work is a life long pursuit. "Enduring to the end is doing missionary work." 

I know that Heavenly Father needed me to serve a mission. I know that He needed me to serve specifically in the Ohio Cleveland Mission, and I will forever be grateful for that. This land is sacred. It truly is the land where I have "[come] to the knowledge of [my] Redeemer" [Mosiah 18:30

No offense, but I do not want to come home. I do not want to have to remove this name badge, never to wear it again. I do not want to be submersed in "Babylon" again. However, just as I know that God had a plan for me serving a mission, I know that He has a plan for me going home. He has so many more exciting adventures ahead for me. 

Thank you to everyone who has gone through this mission with me; whether literally as my companion, far away as my family and friends, or all of the amazing members that I have been so privileged to serve and love. All of your prayers, letters, emails, packages, etc. have made a difference in my mission. It has meant the world to me and helped me through many a number of incredibly hard days, weeks, and months. 

I know that this gospel is true and that it will bless any and all of God's children that simply accept and apply it. This gospel truly does work! I have seen it time and time again in my life and in the lives of those that I have served here in Ohio. Heavenly Father knows and loves every single one of His children. I have no idea how, but I know that He does. His plan for us will bring us more joy than anything that we could ever plan for ourselves. I know that trials strengthen us. I am happy that I can now say that I am grateful for my trials. They have brought me closer to my Heavenly Father and helped me to know him more fully and deeper than I ever could have otherwise. I know that God is always here for us, no matter what. I know that the power of the Atonement of Christ is real and that it will help us to achieve more than we ever could on our own. I know that my Savior lives.

"...through thy ministry my name shall be known in the [Ohio] forever..." -Abraham 1:19

Sister Amber Olds

I love these two incredible people SO MUCH!!! It breaks my heart to have to say goodbye. :(

Last letter to Momma and Poppa :(

A big piece of my heart will always be in St. Marys, Ohio

SO SAD to be leaving my little Sister Hemenway :(

I got to have one more Felver dinner!!! :D Tender mercy. I wuv their wittle animals!!! See if you can spot all 3

More like exiting.....Man that day feels like forever ago, yet just last week.

Goooooooooooooose crossing!


St. Marys really was just the perfect place for me :) We need to get pet chickens!!!!

One of the most amazing families I have met on my mission. I want to be just like all of them when I grow up!!


Lil' Maurrer :) He is just the cutest!! He took all of us missionaries out to pizza yesterday.

We went to go take pictures out back and then they put their nasty little cow breeding stuff on me and forced me to wear it!!


I am going to miss them SO SO SO SO MUCH!!!!

She loved it! (Sis. Olds' CF treatment)

Monday, June 15, 2015

"Baptism! Baptism is what brings us togeva todaaaay!"


It was so wonderful!!!! So you know how leading up to Estevan's baptism he was having a really hard time?? Well this time around Satan attacked us instead!!!! [Which honestly we would much rather prefer! We can take it!! Leave our investigators alone!!] This past week was NUTS!! But so wonderful and amazing. Here's the run down for you:

  • We had the Vellinga Mission Tour on Tuesday. They leave 4 days after me and so they toured the whole mission this past week to say goodbye to everyone. Holy tear fest!!!! There was not a single dry eye in that chapel. I have never seen Elders cry so hard before. It was heart breaking. Plus at the end President gave Sister Vellinga permission to hug all of the elders. They were all so happy!! It was so tender. It was also so much fun though. They showed us their engagement and wedding pictures!! And they talked a whooooole ton about marriage. It is like they were trying to do everyone's departure interview right then. However, my actual departure interview was right after that!! Ooh that was hard/ wonderful. I love President Vellinga SO MUCH!! I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to be one of his missionaries. He has made such a huge impact on my life. 
  • We drove to Cleveland that night and got to work with the North Olmsted Sisters for the rest of the day!! My old area!!!!! What a tender tender mercy to get to see some of my old people so soon before I leave. :) It was so great!! Then we got to stay at the mission home that night and my doctor's appointment was the next day. [I was all healthy!! Well...for the time being.] 
  • Next day I woke up with a weird stomach ache but went for a run with Sister Genster anyways. After we got back it started hurting worse and then all of a sudden it turned into the worse stomach ache in the world!!!!!! I immediately called Sister Vellinga, then called Elder Joos to come give me a blessing. All I can compare it to was when I had gallstones and had that huge attack. It hurt SO BAD!!!! Sister Vellinga had me call the mission doctor, who then had me go to the Emergency Room. We were there for 4 hours!!!! It was ridiculous!! Nobody has time for that!! Especially not missionaries! Good grief. After a whoooole ton of tests, they had no idea what caused it. But the pains went away and so they let me leave. I think it is just my body breaking down and trying to give up on me the lest leg of the journey. Not cool body, not cool. 
All of the craziness was so worth it though because Kim's baptism was so amazing!! The spirit was so strong and she was SO HAPPY afterwards!!!!!! She just kept saying for the next two days how she was so "giddy" after she was baptized!! And her husband John got to baptize her and he passed the sacrament for the first time yesterday!! Ahh!! This weekend was all just so perfect!! We had dinner with the Joos' and Kim and John last night and they are ROCK SOLID!! They were telling us how blessed they have been since they started meeting with the missionaries and how they want to start reading the Book of Mormon together every day and want to come out teaching with us and get really involved in the church. THEY ARE SO WONDERFUL!!!!!!!  I can't wait for all of you to get to meet them someday :) 

I had so many moments this weekend where the Spirit just hit me like a brick wall and I thought, "This is what it is all about." Missionary work is the most amazing work that Heavenly Father let's us participate in. :) And how grateful I am for that. 

Sister Amber Olds

They LOVED their scriptures! Thanks Momma!!!

All the Elders LOVE Kim. They all fight over who is her favorite. It's ridiculous. She let's Elder Albaugh believe he is her favorite, but we all know that no one could ever top her sisters!

My wonderful CF Specialist! Dr. Dasenbrook. I can't believe I had my last appt. here! They were all so sad to see me go. Psh...try being on my end of this!! It is way harder for me to leave!
University Hospital. Oddly, I'm going to miss this place too. Every three months!


DJ Bubbles on the Flipside!!! We crack up every time we pass this in Celina. We have a rap to it now too

Look at all the Lily pads!!!! Ah, St. Marys is just too cute!

13 of these bad boys...

We love the ER. So much. SO very much.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"I thought you were dancing...but now you're praying!" -Sister Genster

ESTEVAN IS A MORMON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! His baptism was so wonderful [and very Estevan...] and went so smoothly! That was the biggest miracle of all! We were stressing BIG TIME all week long. But it all went so great!! All of your prayers for the past week made a HUGE difference. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!! He actually ended up having to be dunked twice. [his knee came up] But then after it all, before he got out of the font, he goes, "Thank you everyone! Thank you Jesus. In Jesus name Amen!" Ohhhhhhh Steeeeeeeve. Then the next day when he received the Holy Ghost he felt the spirit so strongly....SO STRONGLY. Let's just say that we had to have a lesson with him after church on being reverent in sacrament meeting... It was his first fast and testimony meeting that he had been to....Well, he called out Elder Joos in front of everyone to go up and bear his testimony.Then when there was a pause about 15 minutes before the meeting was to end he yells out, "Well, anybody else??" Oh my lanta....Both Sister Hemenway and I got up to break up the silences. There is definitely a learning curve, but he is doing great. 

JOHN GOT THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD!!!!!!!!!!! Sunday was just such a wonderful day. :) He got the priesthood so now he can baptize Kim this weekend!! They are both doing SO AMAZING!!! I am still so amazed how well they are doing and how far they have come. Kim isn't struggling with not drinking coffee at all now! She is so excited for her baptism. Her interview was right after Steve's baptism [that was crazy coordinating all of that and trying to stay on top of things. Woohoo for back to back baptisms!!] It was a reeeeeaaaally long interview though and so I started getting really nervous. However, I should have known that it would take forever, it's Kim!! Of course they wouldn't just go through the questions and be done, but she also had to tell Elder Albaugh her whole life story. :) They're tight now. How could they not be?? Everyone loves Kim! After the interview though she came up to me all giddy and whispers, "Guess what! He told me I was more than ready!" Oh she is just too cute!!! I love her so much!!! I so badly wish that all of you could come to her  baptism this weekend. It is going to be so wonderful!! Oh guess what! Sister Thomas is coming back for it with her family!! Well that actually just happens to be when they were coming back to visit her mission. I am so happy that she will be here for it. SO MANY TIMES leaving Kim and John's we would talk about how incredible it would be if John could get the priesthood and then be the one to baptize Kim. And now that's happening!!!!!!! Ah man, missions are just the best. :) 

The whole mission got an email from President Vellinga today that said:

Dear Elder and Sisters of the Ohio Cleveland Mission

Good Morning in the Greatest Mission in the World.

I am pleased (very pleased) to announce that we will now be able to attend the Columbus Ohio Temple at approved times during your mission. 

I will give you the details when we are with you on TuesdayWednesday, or Thursday at our meetings with your zones.

Have a great day!!

We love you.

President Vellinga

WE ARE SO PUMPED!!!!!!!!!!!! Although I highly doubt that I will get to go before I leave, but that is so exciting for all of the other missionaries here!!!!!!! We were almost in tears we were so happy when we read it. 

This upcoming week is going to be INSANE. Tomorrow is the Vellinga's Mission Farewell Tour for Toledo and then my departure interview is after that. Then we are driving to Cleveland that afternoon to spend the night in the mission home because the next day I have my doctor's appointment in Cleveland. Then we have the long trek back to St. Marys. Then we have Kim's baptism this weekend!!!! This last transfer has been the craziest, most exhausting, heart breaking, and rewarding transfer yet. :) The lower the lows,the higher the highs! The enabling power of the atonement is most definitely real. There is absolutely no way that I would be able to do the things that we have needed to the past few weeks on my own. My body pretty much hates me. It is working hard to try and keep up. It's okay though, I can sleep when I'm dead. [Mission dead that is...]

"And whoso receiveth you, therwill be also, for will gbefore your face. will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to  bear you up." 
~Doctrine & Covenants 84:88

Sister Amber Olds

"Trunky" papers

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

To every dark cloud there is a silver lining...

This week was HARD. SO SO HARD.  And just ridiculous at the same time. The mission is just putting me through the ringer right here at the end. Guess it thinks I need to toughen up a bit more before I go home. 

Where do I even begin...?

Estevan. That will be a good place to start. Well he tried to drop us earlier this week. We texted him telling him that his baptismal interview was all set up and he texts back saying that he has changed his mind and is going to go to his brother's church because they have more exciting music......He told us that Sunday before that he gets bored in Sacrament Meeting and doesn't like it. We immediately called him and had a real long talk with him and testified harder than either of us probably have our entire missions. We helped him to see the importance of the gospel and of all that he has learned and come to know is true. We told him that now that he has a testimony of all of these things, it is up to him to act on it. We asked him what his ultimate goal is in life and he said, "To live with the Celestial Father." Well, that is only going to happen right here in this church. I told him why I live the gospel and go to church each week and then said, "Honestly Estevan, for me it is more important to live with Heavenly Father and my family eternally than to be entertained for an hour." He kind of sat there in silence for a minute and then went, "Well, it's different when you explain it that way." Thankfully he was back on board then. After that phone call we both felt like Lehi. We just wanted to go lay down. Oh but don't worry! Satan wasn't done working on him just yet. We had planned to meet with him Saturday at the park where we had met before. We got there and guess what was going on right next to our meeting spot. A gospel music concert.....REALLY SATAN?!?!?! REALLY?!?!?! My've gotta be kidding me. After we were able to lure him away from it we had a good lesson. (And he smooshed a bug in my scriptures.....)  We had scheduled a lesson for the next day after church with him and then the Elders were coming down from Lima for his interview. Guess who was M.I.A.!! So after church Sister Hemenway and I literally drove all the way to his house (about 20 minutes from the church) to hunt him down. He answers the door, looks at my face, and just goes, "Is that a spider bite??" (That's a whole other story....I'll get there) Really Estevan?? Where have you been?? Turns out he just over slept and decided not to go to church today. And he had completely forgotten about the interview. He follows us back to the church and we sit down to have our lesson. In the middle of the lesson he tells us that he feels like he isn't ready to get baptized.........Seriously?? The Elders just walked in 5 minutes ago....KNOCK IT OFF SATAN!! So we had a long talk with him about how baptism isn't the end goal, but it is a step in our learning and progression. We asked about his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and the priesthood and he said how he knew it was all true. He kept saying how he just wanted to read more of the Book so he could learn more. Well yeah, we all do! That's why we keep reading it forever. I was just in tears by the end of it. It was so awful. I walked out into the hallway with tears streaming down my face to Elder Roundy and Elder Albaugh and could barely get out, "I'm so sorry. He doesn't want to get baptized." We really felt that Estevan should talk to the Elders though since they did drive all the way down here to come meet him. He agreed to and they went in and talked to him for a long time. President Bissegger gave us chocolate and showed us videos of babies laughing to try and cheer us up. It was so kind of him. Missionary work is just so hard and so heart breaking sometimes!!! After about 45 minutes the Elders and Estevan come out and he says, "We're good for Saturday!" Both Elder Roundy and Elder Albaugh have the hugest grins on their face and say, "He is ready." YYYYYYEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!! I have never wanted to hug an elder so badly before!!! (Don 't worry I didn't.) We were so so so so so so grateful. After Estevan left we asked them what in the world they did to help him come to terms with it all. They said he pretty much came to the conclusion by himself. They talked about how baptism is his next step in order to learn more. They said that Estevan told them, "I feel like Jesus sent you two here to me today to let me know that I am ready for this." Yes Estevan! He did!! It was such an emotional roller coaster......We were so grateful that the Elders saved the day!! Please pray for Estevan this week!! These are going to be the longest 6 days of my life!!!! 

In other news, Sam flamed our phone appointment this week (wasn't there) and we haven't heard back from him since, which is completely unlike him. He was planning on talking to his family this past week about his desires to be baptized and we are so scared that it went horribly wrong.

You body knows!! It knows that we are coming up on the end and it is trying to give out on me!! I have been so ridiculously tired lately!! I almost feel like it is my first week again! One day I literally had to take a nap at breakfast, lunch, and dinner just to keep going.  

Also, I had a ginormous, disgusting abscess on my face that I had to go to urgent care for 3 hours and get sliced open...Now I have to walk around with a band aid on my face. Surprisingly though I have gotten ,"What's wrong with your face??" as much as I did before I had the bandage...So that's good! 

There were other hard things this week, but I am going to stop there. Want some good news? Kim is doing AMAZING!!!! I am so so so proud of her. She still hasn't drunk any coffee and is progressing so well for her baptism of June 13!! And Sister Thomas is going to be in St. Marys that weekend with her family so she will get to be there too!! Oh and guess what. John gets the priesthood next Sunday!!! Oh I just love them SO MUCH. I can't wait for all of you to meet them someday. 

Well, after this week I most definitely have a stronger testimony of 2 Nephi 2:15

Peace (lots and lots of peace) and Blessings.

Sister Amber Olds
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
-Philippians 4:13

We were all crazy tired this week...

About to go under the knife!

Monday, May 25, 2015

"The looney bin....No. That's the Jesus bin!" -Estevan....

Guess what....

KIM HAS A BAPTISMAL DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly we are very very much excited :) JUNE 13!!!! Pray for her!! Especially that she will be able to quit drinking coffee. She can do it, she's tough. ALSO!! John, her husband that is returning to activity, is working towards receiving the priesthood!!!!! The progress they have made in the past couple of weeks has been INCREDIBLE!! 

Well, according to all of your emails today, you have all looked at the calendar today and started your own count downs. One month from today.....crazy. ONE MONTH!!! I never thought I would get to this point. And now that I'm here I so badly wish that I could run back to month 3 of my mission and just do it all over again. This past week I had a few lasts and I think it is finally starting to sink in that my time here in Ohio is drawing to an end. I had my last Zone Conference [that was ROUGH] and my last exchange. I got to be with Sister Jackson!! So that was really fun. We got to commiserate together over it being our last transfer.

Zone Conference was so amazing. Such a great one to end on. All the missionaries that are going home before the next zone conference always go up and have to share their testimony. I remember watching all those missionaries in all of my past conferences and thinking, "I'll never be up there." False. That was a hard place to be. Lots of tears shed, from all of us up on that stand. Then we sang the mission song while still standing up there. I just bawled and bawled!! We were all crying, President was crying. The past 17 months were just all flashing through my mind. So many amazing experiences. 

I love love love love LOVE you!!!! 

Sister Amber Olds

The beast has been tamed!! Poor handsome Sampson....

Yeah...that's a McDonald's hamburger in there...'MURICA!


"Sister Oldsmobile." "OHHH!!" If only I had a dollar for every time I said this in the past year and a half....

Saw these three letters in TJ Maxx today... we are funny :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This ain't my first rodeo!!!...oh wait...yes it is...

Well, I have big news for you all....I have fallen in love....WITH THE RODEO LIFE!!! I now finally understand the saying, "This ain't my first rodeo." Because you feel like a big dummy and everyone can tell when it is your first rodeo!! This past weekend we somehow were able to get permission to go to a Rodeo with Aaron [on Sister Hemenway's birthday! yay!] and we were so terrified at first, but then it turned into the greatest thing ever!! Rodeos are so crazy but SO MUCH FUN!!!!! I was freaking out the whole time. Sister Hemenway and Aaron kept having to tell me that the bull riders were going to be okay. Ummm....false. That second guy was NOT okay!! He fell off and then the bull plowed him with his horns a few times and then stomped on him!! I could not understand why no one else was as scared as I was! He was down for a while. He got a broken nose and stitches!! What kind of sport of this??? I don't even know but I love it!! Y'all need to be ready for the closest rodeo to Gilbert come July! 

I LOVE THE TEMPLE!!! No, no...I didn't get to go, but the power in the temple works!! I asked Mom to put Kim's name in at the temple this past week and we had the most amazing miracle with her!! We went to go visit her Wednesday evening with Sister McKee, a sister from the branch that was only baptized back in August. Kim loved her; it was so great. We were teaching the Word of Wisdom which we were actually kind of nervous about because Kim has told us time and time again that she will not give up her coffee. She quit smoking all on her own before she ever even heard of the Word of Wisdom [Thanks Heavenly Father for that one! :)] but she was adamant about her coffee. And Kim is STUBBORN. So we knew going into it that it was going to be a bit more of a difficult lesson. WRONG-O!!! It went great!!! Clearly her testimony of Joseph Smith and the gospel have grown so much since we last brought it up. She accepted it all and even said she would live it!! But that wasn't even the best part. Halfway through our lesson she goes, "Oh yeah! I was going to tell you about this right when you got here but I forgot. This morning I woke up and couldn't get June out of my head. I just kept thinking, 'What am I doing in June? I can't remember....I better write that down.' Then I remembered! I was praying about baptism last night! I'm getting baptized in June!" YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I immediately teared up and we were both trying so hard not to just get up and scream we were so happy!!!!!!!!! The progress that we have seen in the past few weeks has been incredible!! She is now praying about which date in June she wants to be baptized on. When we got in the car Sister Hemenway and I both just started screaming and hugging each other. [It scared Sister McKee half to death....] But she was so happy with us too!!!! It was such a memorable night. Then yesterday we met with Kim and John and had another amazing lesson. We were teaching about the 10 Commandments and the Law of Chastity, but then we ended up talking a whole lot more about the temple and answering a ton of their question. They are so excited to go to the temple someday! It is so precious! John's home teachers visited him earlier that day and talked a little bit about the priesthood. We were able to talk to him about working towards receiving the priesthood and he was on board!! How amazing would that be if John was able to baptize Kim in June?!?!? Then Kim was talking about how much she loved having Sister McKee come over and she goes, "It got me thinking....once I am baptized I will be able to do that. I can go teaching with the missionaries and help other people just like she did." IT WAS SO GREAT!!!!! I just love them both SO MUCH!!!!

Remember good ole Estevan?? Well he is back!! And he has a baptismal date for June 6!!! The branch members were all so excited [and surprised] to see him back at church yesterday :) 

We had a huge bonfire at Brother Yule's house this week and it was SO St. Marys. That is honestly the only way I can think to describe it. Huge fire, a tractor, corn hole, weenie roast, we introduced Ramiro to s'mores ["you're killin me smalls!!"], and so many people that I just love so much. It is times that like that I will miss so very much in 6 weeks. I love this area and these amazing people more than words can express. 

Miss you tons and love you more.
Sister Amber Olds

watching a rousing game of corn hole!

We have made it a goal to get a picture with every welcome sign of all of our little towns. Cute little Coldwater was the first :)

So funny story..when the Hombres were trying to tell us where the Rodeo was at we had the hardest time understanding them. They kept saying "mack arena" but all we were hearing was "macarena". They just busted up laughing when we asked if that's what they were saying, then proceeded to sing and do the macarena. They actually know all the words to it!! I showed them how Americans sang it and that just made them laugh harder. ["dununununununun MACARENA! dununununununu MACARENA!"] But no it was in fact at Mack Arena...not Macarena.