Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week Three, Completed!

Hello my wonderful family and friends!

I am so overwhelmed with the support and love that I have received and want to let you know that you strengthen me every single day. I have pictures up on the wall of my room of family and friends and I took a moment this morning to just look at it and just felt so GOOD about the work that I am taking part of. I know that leaving was not easy, but could you imagine how wonderful it is going to be to be back and see how much everyone has grown and succeeded in life? I have nothing but confidence in your abilities and the blessings that are going to come into your life because I know that you have already significantly blessed mine. You, my family and friends, along with this gospel, are what I have built my life on and it is such a sure foundation that there is nothing that I am afraid to do; how could I fail? I know that you love me and I know that the Lord sanctifies the work so long as I have a humble heart and good intent. I just love you so very much and hope you know that every day.

This is my district with the teacher (He is in the Y jacket) and us playing in the snow

Playing in the snow - the brother on the right end is one of my teachers
 Last week, I talked about how much I love the food and exercising, but there is so much more to life here. Every day, there are highs and lows, but the most amazing part is how much learning occurs. The best way to describe it is that coming to the MTC and learning another language is kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant: you get a little water, but mostly just get hit in the face. As time goes on, it is not that the pressure has changed, but you learn how to better drink the water, and that is what has happened. Last week, things started to click and I can see the small improvements and the blessing that have come. I am still reading aloud from the Book of Mormon every single day (normally from 11:30 - 12:00 MST if anyone cares to join me) and I can actually read about 5-10 verses with relatively correct pronunciation whereas last week, I could only do about 3 verses with AWFUL pronunciation. I still cannot make the hissing noise, but we are still working on that and the vocab is not quite completely over my head and I can kind of follow the conversation and questions that my teachers ask during class. Can you imagine, 20 days ago, I couldn't understand a single word! :)

The best part of the week is on Sunday and Tuesdays as these are our break days from language and it is the most edifying thing in the world. Especially the Sabbath. It all begins the same where you do some study in the morning in the classroom, but the Spirit testifies of everything so strongly! The scriptures come to life and you know of their truths, the Devotional speakers tell you exactly what you need to hear, and then we come together as a district (the nine in my class--two from Colorado Springs, crazy enough) to talk about what we learned. I am convinced that I am surrounded by spiritual giants because of the insights that they offer knowing that EVERYONE is struggling with the language, but are able to rise above it.

Sister Olsen with two Sisters from New Zealand who are headed to Thailand 

So, to give you a story from this week--my days virtually blend in to one another--I will tell you about one hour that I was at the gym. So like I said last week, the indoor track is my own little paradise. When we first arrived, I did 1 mile with my companion where we would walk one lap and run one lap while trying to memorize vocab words--it takes 10 laps to make one mile--and I felt like it was helping and just a good bonding experience. After our mile, she went downstairs to play volleyball and I stayed on the track to challenge myself to run half a mile without stopping. Before I began, I ran into one of the Elders in my District and was able to just try to check in with him to see how his transition was going. I feel like everyone needs to know that there is someone willing to listen if things become overwhelming. After that quick check in, I ran my .5 mile and immediately afterwards, ran into a girl that I had helped on her first day at the MTC. She was doing walking lunges and so I joined in with her for a couple lunges (ouch!) just enough to make sure that she also felt good about the transition.After that, I saw some of my Poly friends playing basket ball, so I ran down and joined them for about 10 minutes and there is one sister from New Zealand that I love! She is like a sister, so I had no problem just joking around and blocking her by jumping all around her (Hahaha, I look like the biggest dork when I do this).

This is part of my Zone (Cambodia, Thailand, Mong speaking, and Vietnamese speaking)

After all of that, I then went up to read my Book of Mormon for the last 10 minutes, but ended up only being able to read for 5 because there was another one of my friends up there who just looked like she wanted to talk. By the time gym was over and I was back at my residence changing to go to lunch, it dawned on me that this is what missionary work is all about. It is not about doing what you want to do all the time, but it is about forgetting yourself and thinking about the people around you and when you do this, you are happy. I don't think that I have had more fun at the gym than this day. 

 I watched this recorded Devotional from Elder Bednar on the Character of Christ (you should Youtube this or watch it on LDS.org) and how Christ could be characterized by turning out instead of turning in. Even during the hardest moments of His life, He still helped those around Him (i.e. healing the guards ear, telling John to look after His mother) and I am completely humbled by the perfect example that He has set. I know that the lows of my day always correlate to the moments that I think about me and MY lack of ability, but the highs always come when I try to do something nice for someone else. I know that this is the kind of love that the Savior wants us to have for everyone around us.

Laundry days! 
This is what it looks like when we are emailing home (and my entire district is here).
So again, I love you! Thank you for your faith and support, I am still trying to learn and grow into a better person and hope to be more like the Savior everyday. Some days I do a little better and some days I do not so hot, but I know that He has infinite hope in me and has allowed me the enabling and healing powers of the Atonement to be the difference in all that I lack.

With all my love,

Sister Olsen 

[Posted by Allie]

**Reminder, Sister Olsen's MTC information is located at the top of the blog on the right for those interested in using Dear Elder, a free mailing service that is available while Sister Olsen is still at the MTC. dearelder.com**

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Another Great Day at the MTC!

[Posted by Allie]


In case you were wondering, yes, it was another great day in the Missionary Training Center! I am astounded that I have only been here for 13 days now because I feel like I have grown and learned so much that it could have been a year, but that also means I am 13 days closer to getting to Mongolia. It is a great thought, but I am SO grateful for the time that I have here. I am not ready yet at all in regards to the language.

Sister Olsen's Zone - Pointing to their new soon-to-be home... MONGOLIA.

Mongolian Crew in front of the Provo Temple 
Called to Serve all over the world!
 To begin, the food here is SO FREAKIN' DELICIOUS!! It is cafeteria style, but there is always a pretty good selection, the  rotation is starting to become predictable, but since I love hamburgers, I can't complain. I am reviling in all the deliciousness before I get sent out and eat nothing but goat heads and eyeballs--yum, right? Really, though, there is ice cream every Sunday and Wednesday (to welcome all the new missionaries), last night they had Chick-Fil-A (amazing!), Fridays are Pizza from Papa John's, but there is always salad to try to keep the poundage off. I think it is kind of funny because I have been able to eat a lot, but haven't gained any weight; also knowing that I am going to Mongolia to walk around helps with not worrying about that.
Sister Olsen and her companion

Also, everyday we have an hour to exercise and it is like an hour of paradise. I have become pretty good at basketball and there is a companionship from New Zealand going to Thailand in our zone (a Zone is a meeting group about the size of the Laredo Branch) and we shoot hoops everyday. I hear that it is a pretty popular sport in Mongolia, so I am ready. Also, it is either basketball, volleyball, or four square, if you want to play a sport since the outside field is closed due to weather, so be ready when I come back. I have some raw talent. There is also an indoor track above the gym, so I run/walk a mile everyday with my companion as we try to memorize Mongolian words/phrases, and I LOVE running. She will go down to play volleyball at the one mile mark, I will then run (without stopping) at least half a mile--the endorphins are needed. I also have started to portion out about 15-20 minutes in the hour to bring my Book of Mormon in English and Mongolian and just read out loud. I will then finish off by going downstairs to play some basketball for about 10-15 minutes. Exercise time is a saving grace and SO AMAZING.
The Elders that are also going to Mongolia with Sister Olsen

As for learning, I feel like last Thursday I finally had a break-though and have really learned to love Mongolian and be okay that I am not going to Latin America. It took SO MUCH HUMBLING over and over again, I think that I have had to learn the hard way because I am just that stubborn. Last week I kept trying, but it was only with half of my heart, and because of that, I quickly fell to the bottom of my class of nine. Then  on Thursday morning we had a one-on-one with the teacher to have a coaching session and he asked me, in Mongolian, how I was doing. I started with the answers like, 'the language is hard and I am trying,' and 'I am confused by the crazy grammar', and other cop-out answers. Finally, he looked at me and asked if I BELIEVED that I could learn the language. I started to cry (a little) and told him that I didn't know. He then (in Mongolian) told me how it will start like a mustard seed and my faith will grow, he also drew a picture of me on top of a mountain with a little 'Mongolian' conversation bubble with little people helping push me up. It was silly, but it was exactly what I wanted to hear.

Study Study Study time learning to speak a new language! 
Since then, I have been reading aloud in both languages and have been able to pronounce the words a little better. We have been teaching 'investigators' (who are really our teachers) and I can now say a small testimony and prayer in Mongolian, and I FULL-HEARTEDLY love Mongolian! We had a rough discussion last night where the investigator started to ask questions and act like a real investigator, but instead of feeling discouraged because we were stumped, I felt invigorated. I cannot wait to get out to the field, it is going to be wonderful even if all I can do is smile and wave. I already love them. 
Sister Olsen with her close hometown friend, Sister Noa
I have such a firm testimony in the power of the Lord in helping us accomplish all things and it really is by faith that I will learn to speak this wonderful language. The Bible dictionary states that faith is to have confidence in something or someone and because of the perfect character of Christ and the enabling power of the Atonement, so long as we earnestly seek and work toward that thing (with confidence!), there is nothing that will be withheld. Also accounting for obedience, of course!

With all my love,

Sister Olsen

**Reminder, Sister Olsen's MTC information is located at the top of the blog on the left for those interested in using Dear Elder, a free mailing service that is available while Sister Olsen is still at the MTC. dearelder.com**

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hello from the MTC!

Good morning!!!

The MTC gives so many blessings, but after each language learning block (three hours) my pride takes a hit because I am the slowest learner in the classroom, but there is a marked improvement and maybe I have been given the call to Mongolia just so that I can smile and say "I love you" to the people--I don't know how to type in the Cyrillic alphabet yet, so I can't show you how it looks. I know that the Lord is watching out because after one of my classes, I was on my way to dinner and broke down crying about how it would have been would have been easier to just buy a house and how I am not a stupid person, but I cannot seem to catch on to the language, when suddenly Naite popped up. Out of the blue!! I think that it was a pat on the back from the Lord because she just reminded me of home and I was able to just give her a hug and she said the same thing. This first week is the hardest, but eventually you start to pick things up and she let me know that she knew that I was smart. It was exactly what I needed to get me back on my feet and back to the classroom to try to learn more

Sister Olsen with her missionary host, greeting her outside of the MTC.

I don't know how to add pictures yet, so maybe next Tuesday, but there is a service you should tell everyone about call DearElder.com and it is same-day email delivery where they will print out the email to send to me that day. It is nice to have, but I love letters as well!


Sister Olsen

On her way to the MTC!
**This is Sister Olsen's first email sent to me (Allie), received this morning. I will be updating this blog with her emails as soon as I can. If anyone is interested in getting her MTC info, feel free to leave a comment with your email or a way to contact you and I can send the info over. :)