Monday, October 27, 2014

2 Baptisms, 2 Months, & 2 Bags of Food

Dear familia, 

The most notable thing that happened this week was the baptism of Gaby and Yoelis!!! It was a beautiful service - all the jovenes (youth) came to show their support and there was a very special spirit present. 

Gaby and Yoelis arrived early and we sent them to try on some baptismal clothes. While they were changing, Anairis showed up. She is a young woman in the branch who goes to school with Gaby and Yoelis. She was the one who first invited them to come to church and listen to the missionaries. When Gaby and Yoelis entered the room all dressed in white, Anairis burst into tears and gathered them into a hug. She told them how happy she was, how wonderful it was to have them there in the church, and that this was one of the best and most important decisions they would ever make in their lives. So, of course, Gaby and Yoelis started crying as well, and it was such a touching scene that so did Victoria, Hermana Martinez and I. 

After the baptismal ordinance, Gaby and Yoelis got up to share their testimonies. Yoelis is quite timid, so I wasn't sure if she would want to speak, but she stood up in front of everyone and declared boldly and clearly that she knows that this church is true, that it is directed by Jesus Christ himself and led by a living prophet. When Gaby got up she said that she knows this church is true because she has felt it change her - she is more kind to her family and those around her, and she has learned how forgive others and ask for forgiveness. She said that in a short time the Gospel had already brought such happiness to her life and that she wants to share it with all her friends and family.

After the service we planned to stay to mop the wet floor, clean up the kitchen from the refreshments, and set up chairs for church the next day... and Gaby, Yoelis, and Victoria insisted in helping us. With their help were able to mop the entire church and set up chairs in no time at all. 

They are such wonderful young women and I know that they will make an indispensible addition to the rama. They are already so involved in the Young Women’s program, which by the way, has an amazing new presidenta named Indiana. She is so great with these girls and they all idolize her. I honestly believed that Indiana was called because the Lord knew their would be a sudden influx of young women getting baptized who would all need a great leader to strengthen them (Gaby, Yoelis, and soon Victoria, Diana, Adelaida, and 2 more that the other hermanas are teaching). In a matter of 2 months, the number of young women attending church has nearly tripled from 7 to 20. The change has been amazing to watch. The Lord is truly blessing this branch and blessing us as missionaries.

Interesting things that happened this week:

- We started teaching Esterlin again. He has another baptismal date for the 6 of December and says that he wants to start coming to church again. I hope we can actually make it happen this time - it's really all up to him, though.

- We had a faith-building experience this week when we went to visit a recently widowed less active member. After the lesson, she said that she had something for us. She went into the kitchen and returned with 2 large bags full of food. We thanked her for the offer, but tried to tell her that we were all right, that she should keep it. She insisted, however, saying that with only her in the house it would just go bad anyway. She told us that she believed we had been sent to her house that day for a reason. She said that she had been so lonely that morning and had prayed for someone to come visit her and a few minutes later we showed up at her front door. So we thanked her for her kindness and took the food with the intention of finding who needed it. 

And sure enough, not one hour later, we ended up at the house of a less active family that we didn't know very well. We learned that both parents had been out of work for some time. They were several months behind on rent and the landlord was trying to kick them out of their house (a tin shack, really). With the little money that they did manage to earn doing odd jobs, they had just enough to feed themselves and their 2 little girls. "I don't know what to do, hermanas," the father said quietly, "How can I choose between feeding my family and keeping a roof over their heads?" 

We asked him if he believed that his Heavenly Farther loved him. He said yes. We told him that He did, that He was mindful of their family's needs, and that He had led us there that day to ease their burden. We opened the bags and when he saw the food his eyes grew large. We told him to take it all and use the money that he had to pay his back rent. He was silent for a few moments, staring at his hands that were resting in his lap, then he looked up with subdues gratitude in his eyes. "Thank you," he whispered fervently. 

I know that the Lord guided us to those 2 houses that day and I'm glad that we could be instruments in His hands to answer the prayers of a lonely widow and a struggling father. 

Love you all!
Until next week, 

Hna Olsen

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

From Enemy to Friend and a Family Home Cocktail Evening

Dear family, 

Gaby and Yoelis had their baptismal interview on Saturday, and of course, they passed with flying colors and they're both anxious for this next Saturday to come. After church yesterday, the Young Women's president commented to us how much she was looking forward to having Gaby, Yoelis, and Victoria in Young Women's because they always participate and do the "homework" she gives them. I know that they're ready and worthy to take this wonderful step in their lives, especially after an experience that they shared with us this week. 

Gaby and Yoelis told us that after we taught them about repentance, they decided that they needed to apologize to a certain girl in their class that they never got along with. So they did. She forgave them and asked for their forgiveness as well, and then Gaby and Yoelis invited her to listen to the missionaries. They're going to take us to her house sometime this week.

Victoria also shared an experience with us this week. She said that she arrived early for mutual and was waiting outside the church when a woman approached her and told her that she should stop going to this church, that is was of the devil, and that Jose Smith was a fraud. "So of course," Victoria said, "I told her that none of that was true and I could prove it. I pulled out my pamphlet of the Restoration and began reading it to her." The woman didn't want to listen and walked away, but Victoria said that she "felt happy that she defended the truth." 

In other good news, the Familia Santana had their own family home evening this week. The bad news is that they haven't quite got the concept right yet. Hermana Martinez and I were so excited when they told us that they had held their own FHE, and we asked them what they did. "Oh," they replied, "we said a prayer, sang a song, we read the scriptures, we ate fritos, and we drank beer." Needless to say we taught them about the Word of Wisdom in that visit. They explained that they didn't know it was wrong because the bottle said 'light' (which they thought meant light on alcohol) and that they have drank ever since they were little. It's part of the culture here. Oftentimes parents give beer to their children as young as 3 or 4 years old and they don't see a problem with it. But now Diana, Alberto, and Adalaida understand and committed to living the Word of Wisdom from that day on. 

Interesting things that happened this week:

- We had Zone Conference with Elder Cornish of the Seventy. 
- We saw a giant toad that probably weighed about 2 lbs.
- Victoria's 111-year-old bisabuelita (great grandmother) has taken a strange liking to me. As we were singing our opening hymn she came up behind my chair and surprised me with a long hug, her cheek plastered up against mine, and throughout the entire lesson she held tightly onto my hand. Victoria tried to get her to let go of me, but she refused. I didn't mind though, Hna Martinez thought it was hilarious and encouraged her to keep a firm grip on me "so I couldn't escape," and Victoria was embarrassed because she says bisabuelita is racist. We were all dying of laughter, even bisabuelita (although she didn't quite understand why). 

Until next week, 

Hermana Kaitlin Olsen :) xoxo

Helping Carmen carry water up the mountain to her house

Diana, Alberto and Adalaida after learning about the Word of Wisdom


Monday, October 13, 2014


Querida familia, 

No hay mucho nuevo que reportar esta semana. Yo sigo muy bien y todo va normal en la vida de una misionera. Wow! Me di cuenta ahora mismo que estoy escribiéndoles en español...  pero para variar, seguiré así y ustedes pueden utilizar Google para traducirselo. jaja Debería ser interesante. 

Pero de todos modos, todo va bien en cuanto a nuestros investigadores. Estamos soltando los que no progresan para poder buscar los que si estén dispuestos a progresar, o sea, los escogidos. Gaby, Yoelis, y Victoria siguen progresando maravillosamente. Esas tres son tan lindas y tienen tanto animo de poder bautizarse y un día entrar el templo! En las propias palabras de Victoria, desde que ella conoció el evangelio ella se siente "como si estuviera flotando y a punto de explotar de felicidad." Y debido a sus sinceros esfuerzos, esta semana pudimos adelantar los bautismos de Gaby y Yoelis para el 25 de Octubre - y si todo va según el plan, Victoria podrá bautizarse dos semanas después. Es muy buenas noticias y estoy sumamente emocionada de poder verlas vestidas de blanca!

Cosas interesantes que ocurrieron esta semana: 

- Termine mi libro de gramática - todos 388 paginas - y solo me falta unos 70 paginas de vocabulario para memorizar en el diccionario (pienso terminarlo en las semanas que vienen). Ahora, hablar en espanol es tan natural que a menudo olvido que, en un tiempo, yo no lo hablaba y apenas me puedo imaginarlo.

Que tengan todos una buena semana!

Atte: Hermana Olsen

P.D. Dad: If you'd like, you could translate it and copy that below the letter when you send it out/post it on the blog.

Dear family,

Not much new to report this week. I'm fine and everything is normal in the life of a missionary. Wow! I realize now that I am writing in Spanish ... for a change.  You can use Google to translate it. haha should be interesting.

But anyway, all is well in terms of our investigators. We are letting go those who do not progress to look for those that are willing to progress, that is, the elect. Gaby, Yoelis and Victoria are progressing wonderfully. Those three are so cute and have so much energy to become baptized and one day enter the temple! In the words of Victoria, since she has been introduced to the gospel she feels "like I was floating and ready to explode with happiness." And because of their sincere efforts, we could advance baptism dates for Gaby and Yoelis for October 25th - and if all goes according to plan, Victoria will be baptized two weeks later. It is very good news and I am extremely excited to see them dressed in white!

Interesting things that happened this week:

- Finish my grammar book - all 388 pages - and I only need about 70 pages to memorize vocabulary in the dictionary (I think I will finish in the coming weeks). Now, speaking Spanish is so natural that I often forget that in a while, I will not be speaking it much and I have a hard time imagining it.

Have a good week everyone!

Hermana Olsen
Christmas Trees already in the store

Eating frozen yogurt

Switching hair

Yoelis, Gaby, Victoria

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 6, 2014

Dear family, 

This week's letter is going to be a short one because we had a really slow week. Hermana Martinez got chikungunya... for the second time. Apparently it's not always just a onetime deal, so hopefully I don't get it again either (I'm still feeling the effects of the first time). But 5 days and lots of hours of sleep later and she's feeling a lot better, and we're ready to get back to work. 

As you already know, General Conference was this last weekend and we had 8 investigators there. Gaby and Yoelis could be baptized in the next few weeks, Victoria isn't far behind, and the Santana children are still excited about their fecha in November (we just have to work a little more to motivate their less active father). But all is well! I even got to watch conference in English! The branch president surprised us by putting a TV in a separate room for us. We did, however, watch the Spanish talks with everyone else (I always like to hear their real voices).

Con amor, 

Hna Kaitlin Olsen