Monday, December 26, 2016

Walking on Sunshine - Week 52

Dear family and friends,
Oh my goodness, I cannot describe just how wonderful this week has been and it only became better after talking with my family yesterday! That is the highlight of the week that will keep everything afloat until the next time in only 5 months; that is nothing! 5 months, that is probably going to only be 3 transfers based on the idea that most of my companions last about 12-15 weeks on average (lol, except for October, that was a hard month of 6 companions within 30 days). Even then, with Spring right around the corner, it is going to be amazing. Also, I officially hit my one year mark next week--crazy, crazy, crazy.
Having Christmas away from home for the first time has been such a unique experience and most of my joy also continued to come when I turned outward and tried to help those around me. I am very lucky in that this is not the first Christmas that I woke up without family surrounding me, but I knew that wasn't going to be the case for my companion. So I decided to surprise her and fill up a little Stocking with my family's traditional presents of necessities like lotions, chapstick, and make-up. It was great! I woke up in the middle of the night, made arrangements, and then  we had a good Christmas morning.
Hahahahah, we then tried to make a really delicious breakfast of pancakes and fruit, but I had this brilliant idea to make the jello in the skillet pan the night before, so come morning, there was nothing to cook the pancakes in. So, we decided to use a soup pot; it didn't work. Everything burned. Then we decide to use a cookie sheet (but really it is a drip pan) on two burners, but that didn't work and ended up burning our hands a couple times. Then, my companion thought about using a sauce pot (smaller than the first and has a handle so we would stop burning ourselves), and strike 3. Everything burned. Somehow, though, she was able to make scrambled pancakes--lol, but we decided that it was probably better to not eat those as pancakes should never be scrambled if they are fully cooked. So here we were with three pots with varying degrees of charred pancakes on it, but I did successfully make fruit syrup; we just have nothing to eat it with.
It is okay, though, because my body gave me the wonderful Christmas gift of food poisoning. I spent the entire morning and all throughout Church services making a mad-dash to the restroom. IT was probably for the best that I didn't have a Christmas breakfast. However, all was made up for with a FUN Christmas dinner with the sisters from my MTC district. It was so much fun to finally be all together again, all on our year mark (basically), and just living it up in Mongolian. Who would have thought that we would have all ended up like this, all training by this time. Sis. Guild somehow found a turkey and I had turkey for the first time this year, it was delicious.
My stomach made it through the night (it was such a blessing) and I ate and laughed with my wonderful friends and sisters, before giving up on me again at the end of the night. I think Heavenly Father knew that this dinner was what I needed.
I am very grateful for this Christmas. There was so much that was different that I often forgot that Christmas was approaching; then as such, I didn't miss home. Mongolia is just so different. The one thing that was constantly on my mind all week was that the 'es' (it sounds like you-ce) is approaching. How it was explained to me is that there are going to be 9-nine day periods where the temperature is just going to start to plummet. The first 3 will be more mild (in comparison), the next 3 periods are going to just be flat-out cold, then the final 3 will become more mild, but not warm yet. Once March hits, life will become normal cold again.
I can do anything, even survive the es in Mongolia. This has been such a great year in my life and I feel everyday like Spring is right around the corner. My companion is teaching me a lot and I feel like I am getting close to that point where I just shine here--I want to be able to just teach from my heart. Everything is coming together and I am so excited about this all.
I love my family. You mean the entire world to me and I cannot wait to talk again soon--it really does feel like it is just around the corner. Enjoy the rest of the year, make it a good one and make some hard resolutions. that is the only way that you will cause growth in your life--aim for something that is going to cause you to stretch everyday and put forth effort. It will be worth it. You will look back and be proud of every step that you took, I can promise you this.
With my full heart,
Sister Jessica Olsen
Hahahah, so here is the Christmas carnage, then at church (oh my heck, this is my Mongolian Morgan), and a night of fun--I will send a better pic in a minute

So I wanted to paint my nails before church, so I had to do it as the last thing before leaving. Life as a missionary and these are the obligatory Christmas morning pictures when everyone just looks like it is early

It was such a good night, there are more coming!

A little more!

It really was just a fun night. Hahahahahahahahahah, but don't tick Sis. Bottorff off (just kidding, you're great)

So after talking to the best people in the entire world, I went out for breakfast--then lunch. I ate a lot that day.

I love you all!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Have a Very Merry Christmas! - Week 51

Hi family,
Guess what! Mongolia has given me the best Christmas gift this year and it warmed up enough to snow today! Even we are getting snow for the holidays and there are trees with lights set up everywhere for Shine Jil (New Year's) with blues and silver everywhere, but I love it all! Even the crazy blue-dressed Santa, in my heart, I know that it is all for Christmas, Mongolia just doesn't even know. However, I am making a New Year's resolution to be just happier about everything and really become content with everything that comes my way. My mission is too short to be spent stressed out and only seeing the negatives and short-comings--that is not a good way to live. I want to become more positive and just at peace with the world and the people around me.
I sometimes get into this mode where I like to boss people around and delegate responsibility--this is my brattier side that comes out. However, through the continued example of those around me (especially Sis. B), I am starting to just become a more taiwan (hahahahha, it sounds like taa-van in Mongolian, not the country, and means peaceful) person. I hope to go to bed every night knowing that I gave my best to those around me and have served with my full heart. After all, I want to go to bed saying, 'I love my life' because it is too precious to just let it go with nothing else. Otherwise, this has been an amazing week in Mongolia.
English is fun constantly and those teachers are always keeping me on my toes because of all of the English grammar questions they ask and I feel even more prepared to try my hand at a personal English class at home. I bought a 2-year goal journal calendar and have decided that this is how I am going to keep track of the last 6 months of my mission (ever since my mission started, I hate journaling. With a passion. So I just take about 10 pictures a day and write names in my planner, I figure it will all work out one way or another). I decorated my apartment with a home-made tree and have had one amazing Zone Conference to celebrate Christmas.
Sunday is basically going to be just another day here, even though it is Christmas, there will be meetings to attend, investigators to visit, studies to be done, and all the celebrating will be in my heart, but it is just a different way of observing the holiday. I read this article by Elder Holland and he said how his Christmas was singing hymns with his companion, listening to a recorded talk, then getting outside and knocking on doors from morning to night without making it into a single home. If an apostle of the Lord can spend his Christmas like that during his time on a mission, I can do the same. My companion and I have already planned to do something small together to celebrate, then just getting to work. We will share the message of the birth of Christ with others and go to bed knowing that we did our best.
I love Mongolia. I love the people here and how peaceful everything is. I love the snow falling today. And I love that I will be able to call my family in a week.
Life is wonderful and enjoy your Christmas!
Sister Jessica Olsen
P.S. They had this really pretty rendition of Carol of the Bells that was performed by the Stake choir here and it was in English and it made me cry, like full on cry. I could just feel the peace of the Christmas message and even though it is different here (a non-Christian background), this is still one of the most wonderful times of the years. There were only a handful of people who could understand the song in English, most being Elders and Sisters, most were probably missing their families, but all were out serving and working among the Mongolian people. I am so overwhelmed with the goodness of those around me.
Here is my Christmas tree, me asn Sis. Bottorff at the ZOne Training, and we had dinner with the President and his wife yesterday at a members house, we had to translate and my English comp, Sis. Kerby, did so fantastic.

Celebrating my comp's 6 month anniversary and the air-cleaning machine.
Hahahahahah, also enjoying AMERICAN Cola (it is more carbonated than what is sold here). It was delicious.

Look at my cute members! The sled is made out of a car bumper and we were walking on the frozen canal bed (there probably was about 2 inches of frozen water).

Oh, here are pictures of my new side of town and the church building. There are a total of 4 buildings throughout the city, 2 look identical, 2 that I have never been in, then the Bayanzurkh where the mission home is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A New Teaching Area - Week 50

Dear family and friends,

So guess what has happened for officially the third time on my mission? I am in a new area called Sukhbaatar and it is funny because I was completely ready to leave my other area about a month ago and the time that I am 99% sure that I am staying another transfer, they move me. Things are completely new again and I need to learn my way around a new part of town and couple of ger districts, but Mongolia is still Mongolia and I love all of the people that live here. I am in a new apartment (that is like a hotel in comparison to where I was) and it was the first apartment that I stayed in on my first night in Mongolia--I had so many flashbacks to that night. Seriously, for a split second, I remembered exactly what I felt like when I first came to Mongolia and I am amazed at how far I have come. When I first came, I was completely overwhelmed by absolutely EVERYTHING from the smell of the air and ger districts, to the crazing driving, the language, and the unevenness of the streets. Now that I have been here for some time, I don't feel that way anymore; the Lord has helped me completely adjust. I almost barely even notice these small things anymore.

Now, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am courageous enough to ask people to repeat themselves if I didn't understand the fist time. If they do not understand me, with confidence, I will repeat the same sentence over and over again until it clicks. One of my earlier almost companions told me to just talk like a Russian Dictator and now I do because I know that the people have the capacity to understand and it makes a huge difference. Turns out, even this girl can learn another language that still sounds like Parasal tongue occasionally; but this just makes me a little more like Harry Potter. Hahahahaha, or would that be more like Voldemort? I swear, I am still one of the nicest missionaries that you will ever meet and I am happy to share a smile with just about everyone that I meet. 

So after all of the craziness of moving from one side of town to another, moving all of the stuff that I have somehow started to accumulate, I have some great new progressing investigators. One is so excited about baptism, he wants to be baptized before Christmas, meaning he is trying to meet with us every single day, but there is so much to teach and some commitments just require time. However, starting next month, I think that I will officially have a 2nd and 3rd investigator that I can call my own because I will help teach the bulk of all of their lessons. I am so excited about all of these changes! I love teaching. My English class is WONDERFUL! Luckily, Sis. Bollwinkel has a way of clicking with the 11th graders and they love here, so life is just smooth sailing. 

I don't know much of my new area, I am starting to come down with a cold again (dang you, pollution!), and Mongolia is going through a nice little warm spell and is usually around 5-10 F. No frostbite yet. :)

Christmas is coming up and I completely love my life! And I get to talk to my family soon, what more could you ask for. 

Have a happy season and be safe, Remember the reason behind Christmas and be happy!

I love you,

Sister Olsen

This is me and all of my wonderful things, Sister Austin and Brezenski made me a good-bye cake (that I ate with milk in a mason jar) and it was delicious white cake with chocolate frosting--my favorite! And then this is my new district! 

This is how I look outside, and inside. (plus it was taken about 30 minutes ago--the indoor one).

I love you all! I should have my Skype time next week, it still wasn't posted.

Seriously, this place is so nice and there is so much room. I love it.

So this happened this week. The first one without as much frost happened at 8 AM while I was walking to meet up to make an English split, then the second (with more frost) was after 30 minutes right before I was going to teach at 9 AM. This has never happened before, I looked like a crazy person (khun).

Also, the weather gets so cold that after a certain point, it cannot snow (like beyond the ability) and then there are workers who go and just chip up all of the ice because it will never melt if left alone. The air is just always cold, but I am getting so used to it, it feels normal).

'I LOVE YOU' message. Life is wonderful and so are you!