Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I am Leaving on a Jet Plane

Dear family and friends,

So, it has only been two days since I emailed because they have been messing with our P-days due to the English training, but this is my last P-day before Mongolia happens. That is the craziest thought to me because if you would have asked me at this time last year if I were going on a mission, my answer would be no. In fact, I am pretty sure someone did ask me this question; looking back, the Lord has bigger and better plans than I can even begin to imagine. I feel like a better person with more pure love for others and have been humbled in my heart while being here at the MTC, most importantly I have learned that I will accomplish nothing by my work alone, but everything must have the Power of the Holy Ghost accompanying it or the things that I say and do are pointless. This is the Lord's work that I am privileged to partake in. 

My plans for today are to pack, pack, pack, and then go shopping for some essentials like floss, and then go and pack some more. It is crazy how my clothing has seemed to multiply and take over my life, but I'll get it back together into that suitcase! I do want to take a moment and reflect on some of the lessons that I have learned:

1. This is the Lord's work, do it His way - Before coming here, I had a really bad habit of only halfway doing things in the way that I was asked. It wasn't with malicious intent, but I always felt like I knew a better way to accomplish a task, so someone would give me a request and I wouldn't follow the exact directions given--if they asked me to do something like make 20 copies, I would only make 10 and then say that I would make more if needed (just as an example).  Right now, I know that the more I follow with exact obedience, the better off I will be because there is a reason that I am being asked to do something in a specific way. I believe that the Lord is directing my actions and if I am asked to make 20 copies of something even though I feel like only 10 are needed, I should make the 20 because the Lord has a bigger picture than I do, who knows, maybe 10 copies will fly away in the wind and I will be grateful for the extra 10 copies that I made due to the faith in the directions. Obedience and blessings start with the small things like waking up and getting out of bed at exactly 6:30 AM rather than hitting snooze, and soon I will be trusted with the bigger things, like teaching the gospel to people who have never heard the name of Christ. Everything is preparing me for something else down the road and I get to chose how quickly I make it to that ending destination.

2. Avoid Pencil Skirts - Oh my heck, I think one of my biggest regrets are the amount of pencil skirts that I brought because they are not convenient and not comfortable to be in for 18 hours a day. Seriously. Pencil skirts are beautiful and I will wear them at home all the time, but right now is not about having the more form-fitting skirt because then all I can do is to think about me: how I am sitting, if my ankles are crossed, making sure that the slit isn't riding up too high--also, have you ever tried to get up from kneeling on the ground without flashing someone? It is almost impossible in a pencil skirt and definitely never one of the most graceful moments in your life. My biggest advice for sisters is to get A-line skirts that are loose enough to be comfortable and goes below the knees without looking like a crazy bag lady, it is possible to find, I promise. Those skirts are my favorite, I am not saying to throw away the pencil skirt, it is just a mission is probably not the right time to turn inward and only think about yourself. I didn't believe others when they told me to not bring pencil skirts and now I have skirts that I need to send home.

3. Make your bed every morning - The first thing that I do every morning is to make my bed and it is the one thing that keeps me for staying in bed longer and hitting the snooze button. When you make your bed, it signifies that you are ready to begin your day and with that, you begin your day with obedience. I mean, here you are, with your bed made at 6:30 AM, what could you not accomplish after that feat? Lol, the world is your oyster, and all you did was to straighten a blanket to signify that you are ready to go about doing the Lord's work--my blankets are not perfect enough to bounce a quarter off, but it is nice enough to deter me from crawling back in. Also, having a nice bed is a perfect place to crash at the end of a long day.

4. Serve your companion - Find the best within your companion and find a way of serving them every single day. Really, every day. The best thing happens where through service, you notice how great your companion is in small things (my companion has a ton of patience for me and is good at getting to places on time), so why not get them an extra cookie in the cafeteria or hand them a hymn book in church? I am all for the big gestures also, but it is in the small moments that you really learn how to love someone. The best person to begin with is the person that you are with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; might as well try to get along. :)

5. Have Patience - Have patience with yourself and with others; we tend to forget about ourselves in this category. Love yourself and if you are trying every day to be a good person, then allow yourself the time to grow. If I think too critically against how I am doing, I go down a dark path that leads only to sadness and depression, you are your worst critic. Do not compare your failures against someone else's success, if fact, do not compare yourself against others at all. It does not ever lead to happiness. Notice other people's success, give them congratulations, be nice to others, but their success has absolutely no influence on your success--there is enough room on the top of that mountain to accommodate everyone. Do not push others down to lift yourself higher, but have charity and love towards everyone that you meet. I know that I am not 100% perfect that this, but I try everyday to become a little better.

6. Keep a Journal - These are amazing experiences that are shaping my life here in the MTC and even more out in the field, have you thought about your experiences? Take pictures and remember these moments! I have taken SO MANY pictures, those in the classroom, in the hallway, in the residence; my dad said it best where you will never regret having pictures. Do not become distracted and forget your purpose, but snap a quick pic to remember events and people in your life (even if you end up with a goober face). You are being given these experiences to help shape you to meet the great and divine potential within you. At the end of the day when you take a moment to reflect on what you have experienced, you will more clearly see the hand of the Lord in everything that you do. He was there to help you find your keys that morning, He was there when you felt the need to turn left instead of right, He was there in the joy that you felt during your conversations and actions with others, and you will be able to thank Him for all that He has done. I know that God dearly loves every single one of His children and wants to help them find happiness. "Men are that they might have joy" (Nephi).

7. This Mission is Not About Me - This one is coming straight from my wonderful companion: this mission is not about me. We all have moments where we mess up and feel inadequate--on Tuesday I was teaching a lesson with this same companion and suddenly I could not understand anything and my 'investigator' (always a teacher) did not understand anything that I said. I ended up getting so lost in my own head, I ended up crying. In the classroom. In front of the same teacher that did not understand me while he was being the investigator. He understood that it was a culmination of being overwhelmed with the thought of leaving this week and still struggling with the language, but when you don't think about yourself, you do better. Last night we taught the same teacher again, but this time I did not think about me at all, I just REALLY wanted to help him. Guess what, he understood me. When I think about me, I see all of my faults, when I focus on others, any mistakes are just evidence of how much I want to talk to someone.

I know that there are more things that I could mention, but these are the big ones. I want to let you know that I love you very much! More than I could possibly explain without stuttering over and over again on how great you are and how thankful I am to have you in my life: my family, friends, and everyone in between. You help me become a better person and I know that I could not nearly be as happy as I am if I didn't have every experience in this life, even the ones that leave me crying, because everything brings me closer to our loving God and His Son. Our human conundrum has been solved through the Atonement, now it is just a matter of making it through the day trying our hardest to be the best version of ourselves as possible. If you have a bad day, just know that you can start again, that very minute, to be a little better--this is the great gift that we have been given. I believe in you and next time I get to talk you you, I will be on the other side of the world.

I love you with all my heart,

Sister Olsen

Oh beautiful spring, I am going back to winter and will miss you 

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