Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Go big or go home......or go home big!"

Fatty for liiiiiiiiife! Oh my goodness. We had 5 meals yesterday!! It was ridiculous!! People just looooove feeding the missionaries. Especially when one of us is leaving. We had breakfast, then district meeting lunch [which included a birthday cake..], then Cierra surprised us with hamburgers, then we had dinner at the Bisseggers, then Robinta wanted to take us out to Mongollian Grill after that.... So. Fat. 
Anyways, I'm sure you weren't looking forward all week to hearing about my horrible eating habits. Guess what, I'm staying in St. Marys!!! I am really hoping I can stay for the rest of my mission. But that just might be too good to be true. I can't wait to find out who my new companion is tomorrow!!
Well, the Sam Saga continues and is still as amazing as ever. [If not more amazing!] Last Monday night we met with him (after the amazing sacrament meeting) and you will never guess what happened!! We started out by asking him if he had any questions from church and he said that he actually did, just one. He said how not drinking coffee was brought up quite a bit [just in one talk] and he knew that Mormons didn't drink coffee but didn't know the reason or doctrine behind it. We weren't planning on teaching the Word of Wisdom that night, but ended up doing so. HOWEVER, before we even taught it Sam goes, "I love coffee, A LOT. Probably more than anything. We have been talking a lot about acting on our faith though and how that will help me to receive an answer and so I think I am going to stop drinking coffee and see if that helps." ..............WHO IS THIS KID?!?!?!?!? I am telling you, he is BEYOND prepared!! We had an awesome word of wisdom lesson afterwards as well as talking about General Conference and he is pumped to watch it!! We are really banking on him getting his answer there. "You can count on the prophet!" He came to church again this week and loved it all. The topic in Sacrament meeting was personal revelation again, the gospel principles lesson was on talents, and the combined lesson was on being better teachers. Afterwards he said how he felt like everything taught was directed just for him. (He is a band teacher.) It was so great!! Plus we had SO MANY people at church yesterday!! There were 3 Marshallese families!! It was such a perfect last Sunday for Sister Thomas :) 
There is this super cute less active girl we have been working with since before I even got here and her name is Cierra. Every single time we visit her we invite her to read the Book of Mormon and every single time we go back she never has. Well, Saturday we invited her to the General Women's Broadcast and she was actually able to come!! [Along with her little baby boy Liam and two hamsters....]But she made it! So it was great! Unfortunately she had to leave early because Liam was being so crazy. She wanted us to take really good notes and come over the next day though so that she could get caught up. In the morning we got a call from her asking if the broadcast was online so she could watch it. Wow.....awesome! Then a little bit later we get a text from her saying that she wants to talk about Mosiah with us when we come over that night. Then a little later she texts us saying, "I don't know why I didn't read before! The scriptures are so powerful. You guys chose a great book for me to read!" Well yeah!! It's only the greatest book in the world!! Finally! Finally it clicked!! Our lesson with her that night was incredible. She was so so happy and bubbly and fired up about the gospel!! She had taken pages of notes and had only read Mosiah 1! It was amazing!! She talked about how she has this plan to be able to come back to church [work is what is in the way] and how she wants to share the gospel with her boyfriend [who also happens to be our maintenance man! Such a small world here in St. Marys :)] and about how she wants a temple wedding. Just goes to show the power of the Book of Mormon.
We have LOVED getting to share the #BecauseHeLives video with everyone this week. It is so powerful and personal. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it. If you have already seen it, go watch it again and share it with someone. It is the perfect way to spread Easter Cheer!! [That's a thing...right?]
Happy Easter to all and to all a good night!
Sister Amber Olds

Monday, March 23, 2015

"A true friend would let you rub their belly." -Brother Davis Jr.

I'm sure you are sick of hearing this every. single. week.... BUT I LOVE ST. MARYS SO MUCH!!!!!

Sam finally came to church!!! It was the most perfect sacrament meeting ever for him! The subject was personal revelation. Are you kidding me?? There could not have been a more perfect topic for him to hear that day. All of the speakers were spot on! Even the youth speaker! [I mean, nothing against youth speakers...but we know how they can be sometimes...] Before it started we asked him if he had been able to read the talk that we left him last time ["His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox] and he just looks at us and goes, "I watched it three times!! It's so good!!" Yes!! Then the closing song was even his favorite hymn! All of the members were beyond amazing as well. Almost all of them came up to him and introduced themselves and got to know him. The Davis family even invited him over for dinner that night!! They are STELLAR!!! He was planning on coming, but unfortunately wasn't able to because something came up last minute.  He honestly is the MOST PERFECT investigator ever. It is such a privilege and blessing to get to have the opportunity to teach him. We are teaching him again tonight and we are stoked!! I have never prayed or studied harder for any other investigator before on my mission. He is SO CLOSE!!! Ah man, missionary work is just so fun! 

Oh also, Steve is back!!! I'm sure you've been missing his crazy updates. He was MIA for a while but then learned that he was in the hospital...But all is good now and he is back in business and has been "Monsonized"! [Yeah...we don't know either] Last night I was writing in my journal all of his awesome texts to us and it took up 4 pages...He is just one of a kind! 

This week really was super awesome, but I feel like nothing I write about will be as exciting over an email...Honestly all of my stories will be 100x better in 3 months.....WHAT?!?! 3.....3 whole months! I remember the first month of my mission where I legitimately believed that I would NEVER make it to this point of my mission. Funny how no matter what, time keeps going. It is just up to us how we will fill that time. I LOVE MY MISSION!!!!! It honestly is just the greatest most wonderful thing ever. It has taught me more than I ever thought was possible. I remember coming across D&C 58:16  at the beginning of my mission and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I only get to do this once. I better enjoy and savor and cherish every single moment of it. 

I love you all. I miss you tons, but will see you all too soon.

Sister Amber Olds

Lima has got to be the BEST DISTRICT EVER! So it takes us an hour to get to District Meeting and this week we decided to make a song to perform at lunch. [It was Elder Joos' birthday, hence all the crowns and such] Ever seen "Potter Puppet Pals" on youtube? If not, then go look it up, watch it, then continue reading this....Well we redid that but with all of the names of our District. It was pretty great, not gonna lie. We have a video, but it is too long to send. Another gem to see in a few months!

Made this awesome diaper cake with Sister Beougher this week :) 

Olds Olds Thomas and Olds.

How cute is she?!?! Little ninganing Faith :)

So, we have a goose in our front yard, but sadly he does not have a head. But that was easily fixed with a dinosaur head from the dollar store!! His name is Rockwell :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

"You're not failing, you're learning." -President Vellinga

"Oh what a BEAUTIFUL mooooorning, oh what a BEAUTIFUL daaaaay!!!"

The sun is up, the magic of St. Marys has returned, the roadkill is a plenty, and for the first time since November I'm not wearing tights or a coat!! Spring has finally arrived! LIFE IS GOOD!!

This past week most definitely made up for last week BIG TIME!! We had more miracles than I can even recall. We met all of our lesson goals this week [which has never happened before on my mission!] and taught over 30 lessons [also a first for me!]. We have been so incredibly blessed!! There is no way that you can be a missionary [especially one in St. Marys] and not believe in Miracles!!  

Roxshana came to church again yesterday!! She and her girls all loved it so much. We were in their neighborhood later that afternoon and so we decided to stop by for a quick visit. Now, whenever we go to the Capelle's or Rilometo's all the little girls scream at the top of their lungs, "MORMONS!!!!!!!!!!" when we knock on the door. Then are climbing all over each other to open it. It is my favorite thing!! Until we went to Roxshana's today, when we knock on the door her little girl screams, "JESUS!!!!!!!!" and runs to go get her mom. Her sister answers the door and lets us in and we see little Jallen running back from the hallway pointing at us to Roxshana just chanting, "Jesus!! Jesus!! Jesus!!!" [She was probably a little disappointed when she realized that Jesus wasn't actually standing in her living room, but the sisters. :)] Then as we are sitting down and visiting with Roxshana, Jallen gets up on the couch and starts jumping on it and shouting, "I want to go back to Jesus!!!" Clearly she really loved Primary. [And doesn't know what it is actually called.] It was too cute!! 

Well, this miracle was kind of also a huge disappointment too....We went to our lesson with the Capelle's Saturday night and ended up getting there before they got back so we just sat in the car watching Mormon Messages while we waited for them. We see them pull up and Emmy gets out of the car and goes inside and then we see the driver...smoking....Ummm..What? We were praying so hard that it wasn't Ray...but sadly not all prayers are answered how we would hope. What are you doing Ray?!?!? So we go inside for our lesson and at first we aren't really sure how to go about bringing it up. Then Sister Thomas just goes, "Were you smoking out there?" He felt so bad and said how he was really stressed and upset today and just had one. We explained again the importance of keeping God's commandments and how we will have to push back his baptism date again. However, it ended up being good! [Oh! Previous miracle from earlier in the week, his wife Nellie became a new investigator!] We taught them all that night about temples and eternal marriage. It was such a powerful and spiritual lesson. We talked a lot about the blessings of the temple both individually and for our family. In the middle of it Nellie just looks over at Ray and goes, "Quit smoke!!!" It was too funny. He told us that he was completely done. No more smoking. They all want to go to the temple so badly!! I can't wait to see them all get there someday. We were able to move Ray's date, as well as set a date for Nellie!! We are so excited! Please add Ray to your prayers though. He can use the help right now. 

We have been working with Sister Beougher a lot recently to help her quit smoking as well. We had a lesson with her Saturday and ended up committing her to only having that last pack of cigarettes that she had and then not buying any more. She was definitely pretty hesitant, but she agreed. She texted us Sunday morning saying, "My last cigarette was at 3 this morning." YES!!!! She was struggling with the feeling and temptation though so we went to visit her that evening. We told her how it will be hard, but we, and most importantly Heavenly Father, are going to help her do this. She is so strong!!! We are so excited for her. She has such a strong desire to go to the temple. 

We had exchanges this past week and I got to go to Bowling Green with Sister Davis. I met the most wonderful couple!! Brother and Sister Shadle had us over for dinner that night and they made such a strong impact on me. They are both converts and have such strong testimonies of the gospel. My favorite was when Sister Shadle said, "The gospel has worked in our lives, it just has, and it's been fun." They told us how they met and I heard a tiny snip-it of her conversion story which was absolutely incredible. The spirit in their home was so wonderful. I have met so many spectacular people on my mission, even just briefly, that inspire me to become better. It makes me sad that I don't get to actually serve there and get to know them more. Oh also! They said they are going to look you guys up when they go to Arizona next month! :)

Wow, such a long email, and I could go on for even longer about this past week. Lastly though, I had a good long talk with President Vellinga this weekend. That man is AMAZING. There was lots and lots we talked about for a good 45 minutes. But just know, that happiness is back :) Even though things are still hard at times, I am doing so much better. "Don't let anybody take the smile off your face. That would be the greatest tragedy." Happiness truly is a choice. A choice that is sometimes hard to make, but still a choice that is left up to us, and us alone. Also, everyone should read, "All Hell is Moved" by Neal A. Maxwell. SO GOOD!! 

I love you and miss you to the moon and back. 

Sister Amber Olds

Monday, March 9, 2015

Holy Toledo

Oh this week...apparently the magic of St. Marys was taking a break this week. Things were soooooooooooooooooo sloooooooooooooooooow this week! It has been the longest week I have had in a very long time. Also it didn't help that literally half of our week was spent in a car. Cleveland Wednesday, Findlay Friday, Perrysburg Saturday, and Lima Sunday. WHoohoo! "Livin' in St. Maaaaarys!"

However, it was so fun to get to go back to Cleveland this week. Oh how I love that wonderful city. We stopped by the Mission Office and got to see all of the missionaries there as well as the Mission Home to visit President and Sister Vellinga [And deliver a Peanut Butter and Miracle Whip Sandwich for his birthday.] It made me so happy to get to see them all again. My doctors appt went well! My lung volumes were up to 90 this time! Whoo! I am really hoping that that means I will be able to stay in St. Marys for the rest of my mission. :)

We had so many incredible meetings this week. Zone Training Meeting [which was why we went to Findlay] was awesome. I love getting to have meetings and conferences with other missionaries. [Especially now that I am exiled to the boonies of the mission away from all other missionaries] Best of all though was the absolutely amazing Stake Conference we had this weekend. Hands down the best one I have ever been to. The speakers were absolutely phenomenal. It helped me quite a bit.

The last hour of the Saturday night session of Conference I just cried through it all. I don't even know why. I think because somehow I just finally got kicked out of my state of delusion to realize that yeah, things are really hard right now for me. Accept it. I think the most frustrating part of this all is that I don't understand why, or the cause of my struggles right now. I have received so many helpful talks, quotes, and letters the past week though. Also I have been going through my old study journals from on my mission. So many hidden gems in there. I think right now Heavenly Father is just trying to teach me about endurance. I don't know why things are happening right now, but I just have to hold on a little longer. Stick it out. He will help. He has been helping me. And I am so grateful for that. "I have a member of the Godhead always with me." I came across something I wrote in my journal during a zone conference this morning that said, "Maybe God is having us be patient in going through trials so that He can have a little more time with us". I knew this wouldn't be easy. I signed up for this. I thank you all for the prayers and all of your help. A simple letter in the mail helps more than you would know.

Mom sent me the most perfect quote this week:
"His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness"
"When words cannot provide the solace we need or seek, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding of the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and analysis are insufficient, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, then comes the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give- truly, a peace that passeth all understanding." -Heber J. Grant

Don't worry though, no matter how dark the night may seem, the sun always rises in the morning. :) [Which actually has been happening much more these days in Ohio!]

Love you to the moon and back.

Sister Amber Olds

Well well well. Would you look at that. All of you always made fun of me for wearing men's deoderant...but Old Spice was so happy that I did that they made and named one after me!! WIth my favorite stuff in it! You're welcome Old Spice. You are quite welcome :)

My adorable little Sister missionaries :)

Dinner in Perrysburg before Stake Conference at "Perrys Burgers"! ...So clever.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Downs, up, mumps, and lumps!

Just call me Sister Seuss! Okay there actually were no mumps this week.... Or lumps...well, Sister Thomas fell on the ice last night and might get a lump on her elbow? If that counts. Or I still have my freaky finger. That works!
I had the most HORRIBLE AND TRAUMATIZING experience this last week! [Mom, Steph and Erin...don't read this...] We saw a cat get hit by a car and it was AWFUL!!!!! I will spare you the bloody, gory details...but I would definitely say that is one of the worst days of my life now. I felt sick for the rest of the day.
Here's a much better story for you though. This past week Sister Thomas had to get her permanent retainer fixed and so we went to the Lima Ward's bishop, Alan Cline, to have it done since he is a dentist in Delphos. We were talking to him and he asked where we were from. When he found I was from Gilbert he said, "Oh I have a childhood friend that lives in Gilbert." I highly doubted that I would know him because every single time someone hears I am from Gilbert they ask if I know such and such Mormon, as if Gilbert's Mormon population were the size of Khmelnitsky's Mormon population. Every now and then people luck out though and I get to seem popular. I asked him who his friend was and he goes,
"They are the Marples."
Shut up..."What's his first name??"
"Are you kidding me??? Dean Marple?!?! And Anita Marple??? I love them!!! And Jack, Pete, and Sam??? They were in my ward back home! We had them over for dinner all the time! We're tight!"
Needless to say, I was so stoked. I had totally forgotten that they used to live in Ohio! He said that he had never met their kids though. He told me all about how him and Dean were total jocks in high school and then when Dean started dating Anita they all went and played softball or something. Bishop Cline thought he would be a real hot shot and get a huge hit off of Anita's pitch, but little did he know that she was some all star softball pitcher. She struck him out. :) He still remembers that to this day!! So you'll have to let the Marples know that I met their good friend Alan Cline! And that he says hello. :)
Church was cancelled again yesterday. :( We got SO MUCH SNOW!! It was nuts. Probably the most snow I have ever seen in my life. We were stuck inside all morning.
Remember our absolutely amazing investigator Sam? Yeah, he is still just as amazing. We took Sister Kiefer with us to our lesson this week and she is just as stoked as we are about him!! She was just sitting there with this huge smile on her face and then exclaimed to him, "You're just so awesome!!!!" haha It was great. Thankfully it didn't freak him out either. He is beyond prepared!! We were teaching him the Plan of Salvation and he was almost teaching it to us in parts. He loves how we "have all the answers" and how everything we teach just makes so much sense to him. He has such a strong desire to know the truth for himself. He told us how his biggest fear is that he will get through all of this and still not have received an answer. Don't worry!! You will!! He was talking about how he is constantly thinking about all of this. He said how he will be in class, yelling at a student for playing too loud [he is a band teacher] and still be thinking about this! Then he said how he feels bad for not studying this more even though he thinks about it all the time. He "only" gets in about 2 chapters a day. Are you kidding me?? Two chapters A DAY?? That's amazing!! We told him that he has nothing to feel bad about. But he told us that didn't change how he felt. He decided to make this more of a priority by waking up earlier so that he could pray and study from the Book of Mormon more before he goes to work. He is the PERFECT investigator!!! We are fasting and praying so much that he will receive and recognize his answer. We love teaching him so much! He is the most incredible and perfect investigator I have had my whole mission. It makes all of the hard, discouraging, stressful, and ridiculous times so worth it!
Also, a quick update on Kim; she told us that she knows the Book of Mormon is true this week!! We took the wonderful Sister Davis [the one that sent you those pictures yesterday] and shared this powerful Mormon Message with her and John. Boom! Hit the spot. :) Nailed it Elder Holland.
I just want to tell everyone thank you so much for all of the prayers and added support this past week. I truly have felt the difference. So many of you put my name in at the temple and prayed more for me and I am so so so grateful for it. The power of prayer is incredible. I love you so much. I couldn't do all that is expected of me without your help.

Sister Amber Olds


Sister Genster loves my elf pajamas :)

"Does this dress make me look fat? No your fat makes you look fat!" -Sister Felver (2/23/15)

Hello hello! from another ridiculously cold day here in St. Marys! Although somehow in the past 14 months my body has adjusted to where my brain thinks it is okay to go out in a light sweater in 6 degree weather. [Sometimes I make dumb decisions....] Thankfully we are inside all of p-day for the most part. 

What even happened this week? Everything is such a mush in my head today. Well, ready for another Marshallese Miracle? We have been meeting with a less active member, Roxshana, pretty consistently for the past 3 months and really haven't seen too much progress unfortunately. However, something in the past few weeks has just clicked with her! She has been reading in the Book of Mormon every single night. Each time we go we are so surprised at how much further she is. We have been asking her about coming to church every week and she always says that she wants to come but she isn't sure if she will make it because of their car and ride situation. This past week someone left their car at her house [or something like that...still hard to keep things straight with the Marshallese] and so she used it to bring her and her two girls to church!! Okay so she didn't even know where the church building is and so she decided to just drive to St. Marys and find it. And she did! What?! Miracle. Now you have to understand that our tiny little branch building isn't in a super easy spot to find or anything. It is tucked back in this little neighborhood out of side and away from everything. I mean granted it's not like she was trying to find it in downtown Cleveland, St. Marys is tiny, but the Spirit totally led her there! Then she said how once she got here she questioned if she should come in or not because it was her first time and she was alone. She is so brave though and just did it!! Ah I love her so much. She said that she was so happy to be back and that they will be there again next week. WHOO!!! 

We had a Mission President Fireside last night in Lima Estevan came as well as Ramiro and Sandro and they brought their roommate Alfredo!! It was so sweet; President Smith [the Stake President] bore his testimony in Spanish just for Ramiro and Sandro!! Also President Vellinga got to meet all of them! We definitely wanted him to meet Estevan. It was...interesting. Things have gotten kind of...interesting with Steve lately. But he is still pumped to get baptized!! 

I have had a few hard things lately, but it has brought me so much closer to my Heavenly Father. Probably closer than I ever have been before in my life. My testimony of prayer has been strengthened so much. He truly does hear and answer our prayers. He can give us comfort and peace that can only come from Him and is more amazing than words could ever describe. It has most definitely been a stretching and growing time for me and I feel like I am still trying to figure out everything that He wants me to learn right now. But He is helping me out a lot.

I love my mission so much.
Sister Amber Olds

"I don't understand the womens!"-Ramiro (2/17/15)


I am so so so so so happy!!!! I thought for sure I was out of here because 1) my appointments in Cleveland and 2) It is Sister Thomas' last transfer before she goes home. But we get to stay together!!!!! We are SO EXCITED!!! Especially because so much is happening in our area now. We have a good flow going and don't want to ruin that. So many miracles lately!!! 

EMMY AND JEJE ARE MORMONS!!!!!!! It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. Satan was definitely working overtime on trying to throw a wrench in our plans to not make it happen, [the weather, cars not starting, Jeje's Dad getting called in to work that night, etc.] but it did! Ha! Take that! It was so wonderful. I so badly wish you all could have been there. Emmy became an investigator my first night in the area and I was so grateful that we got to help her all the way to see her get baptized. The next day during their confirmations the spirit was so powerful!! They have such strong testimonies. I love them so much. 

Also that Sunday, Ramiro got the priesthood!!!!! Brother Davis was super nervous to do it in Spanish, but it was great. [As far as I know...] Ramiro was just glowing afterwards!! He has been so happy ever since :) 

We had Zone Conference this week! My first one out of the Cleveland Stake. It was still just as amazing out here in Toledo though. I love the Vellingas so much. 

I have tons and tons of pictures this week [since I thought I was out of here] so I will tell more with those:)

I love you all so much. Sorry to break the bad new to you this way, but I am never coming home. You will all just have to move out to St. Marys with me in June :)

Sister Amber Olds

What we do on P-days in St. Marys... Tour the Firehouse!

After going down the firepole...I was laughing so hard because I was so scared. 

"I just want some Jesus pills!"-Steve (2/9/14)

St. Marys is on FIRE!!!!!!! 

Oh my lanta. Okay so Emmy and Jeje's baptism actually got moved to this upcoming Saturday. We were both kind of relieved because now it has been much easier to plan and way less stressful. We are so excited though!!! All of them were at church yesterday [even Ray!! He came for the first time! His date isMarch 14 now] plus lots of other Marshallese people. Some we knew, some we didn't! 

Also the wonderful Estevan, or Steve, came to church yesterday. You guys...there is literally no way to do him justice. He is crazy. [Certifiably crazy....] But then also so awesome!! So he walks into church yesterday [and came early to see the baptismal "hot tub"] and he tells us, "I've been reading this book." [The Book of Mormon] "And my brother said EXACTLY what God said he was going to say!!" Our thoughts:"Okay...where ya goin with this one Steve....?" We just never really can tell. And he says, "I got to 2 Nephi 29! Just the day before my brother was going on and on about how we have a Bible and we don't need another one. Well, I read that chapter and then you know what I told him? 'God has called you a FOOL!'" Hahaha so great!!! He cracks us up. Apparently he was very open in Priesthood as well....as he told his whole life story. Then we met with him last night to finish teaching the Plan of Salvation and he tells us about this dream he had where God told him he will be a "king of the north" when Christ comes again and then God gave him a crown....a Viking helmet crown.... BUT then his next sentence was, "If I only have 14 years left on this Earth it will be with this Church right here!" YES!! That's what we like to hear!! Retention? Check! As we started our lesson I asked him what he had been learning from his Book of Mormon reading and he goes, 
"Well, Joseph is real." 
Me: "Wait...you mean Joseph Smith? You know that he's a prophet??" 
Steve: "Yes! Of course he is! How could he not be??" 
Golden. So so golden.
And he is asking us for more pamphlets and Book of Mormons to share with his family. He is already such a great missionary! We invited him to the Mission President Fireside coming up soon and he is so excited to meet President Vellinga...as are we... :) 

We got a new investigator this week who is also AWESOME!!! His name is Sam and is 23. He was a member referral from a girl out in Medina [near Akron]. He went to her homecoming talk from her mission a couple months ago and then started reading the Book of Mormon after that. He already knows so much and has such a strong desire to find the truth. Also, he is normal! Not that our other investigators aren't...but he speaks English, isn't crazy, etc. We are stoked! 

Man oh man. Life is good in the land of St. Marys :)

Sister Amber Olds

How gorgeous are Ohio skies?!?!

This...this is St. Marys... :)