Monday, August 29, 2016

The Fall of Mongolia - Week 35

Dear family and friends,

Guess what has decided to come to Mongolia this week? If you guessed a very bipolar autumn, you would be completely right. I have busted out the jacket (one that was gifted to me by a departing sister) twice this week and the weather no longer feels like it is going to melt me on the spot. I love it. From what Diana told me a couple weeks ago and something that I have been real-life living: the weather will be nice for another few weeks, then it will drop about 10 degrees every week until January, then it is like a quick descent into the sub-negatives for about 1-2 months (March wasn't too bad this year). Every person that I talk to just kind of laughs when I say that this is going to be my first winter here, but that it okay, it will be my first and only winter. I think that I will be able to handle it and everyone says that after a certain temperature, it all feels the same and you just start to dress a lot warmer (i.e. 4 layers of tights).

More good news! After my apartment hitting an all-time low last week, this week has been amazing! We went and told the Mission Office about everything and, miraculously, they came out and had everything fixed within two days, were were even given some extra funds to replace all of the food that was a casualty to the dying fridge. Then, the night before the new missionaries arrived, we even had the hot water restored. Taking a shower from a working shower head and not having to heat up the water in a teakettle first is the most rewarding feeling in the entire world. Seriously, I felt so dignified. It was one of the best showers in my life and we even bought a new shower curtain, so I felt like I was in a 5 star hotel with all of the working appliances and other luxuries. So this is count two in a great week.

Then, we had transfers this week and it was a HUGE transfer where everyone changed companions or areas... except me and Sis. Bollwinkel! We were the only Sister companionship that stayed the exact same! Blessings!! We did adopt another Sister that lives with us for 48 hours while she waited for her new companion to come from America, but we had a lot of fun as a Tri. We did some major service knocking down a brick foundation with a pick axe and then scooping it away in a shovel (my body was so sore for 2 days after that, but we are going to help again this upcoming Friday), and I am learning how to make some delicious Mongolian bread/dough. It is the equivalent of tortillas, but Mongolian style. They make this flour dough and use it for everything including bread, noodles, shells (like for buuz). It takes a lot of skill to make the dough thin enough, but it is my goal to master it by this transfer. I love it.

And for the cherry on top, my language is making leaps and bounds. I have made a goal to read the Book of Mormon within 90 days and I am completely on schedule right now. I am in 2 Nephi 15 right now, so that is about 100 pages that I have read out loud in Mongolian and I KNOW that I am better off for it. I have also realized that I am now at that perfect spot where I understand the language well-enough to really start to incorporate new vocabulary and learn new terms/phrases, so keep your fingers crossed. This is going to be a pivotal transfer for me, I hope, and I know that the Lord is helping in every aspect of the work. I am still aiming to become the missionary that I hope to be and this is one huge step forward.

I know a lot of it is because I have a wonderful support group at home. I love you all very much and am grateful for your kind words, thoughts, and just general friendship and love. You mean the world to me and I love you.

With all of my heart,

Sister Olsen

So my comp and I went to make Buuz, it was a fun night, but these are one of the major culprates that ALWAYS make me sick and my body does not do well with them. Lol, mine are the gimpy looking ones. :)

Hahaha, sometimes you have to walk down a dark and creepy hall to meet people (the ones who live here are absolutely wonderful)

And then at other times, Mongolia is absolutely beautiful

Then random moments happen

All in all, it was another great week

Hahaha, this is when you are absolutely exhausted and start to just put things on (nothing matched in my outfit and I am wearing tennis shoes)


Monday, August 22, 2016

My Life is in Shambles... not really, but it is. - Week 34

Dear Family and Friends,

Literally everything in my apartment is starting to fall apart on me this week. So, just like back in May, I have been without hot water for the past 3 weeks and had to resort back to the good ol' boiling water in a kettle method; twice in one summer, I am one lucky girl. I think they said that the hot water should be back next week, but we'll just have to wait and see, all of the pipes are completely exposed in the ground outside and it looks like it will be longer, but I miss hot water. My hair misses the hot water more and have gotten to the point where I am ready to just use the freezing water just for convenience sake. Also, the electricity in our kitchen is going crazy and the normal plug/extension decided to die. Then our fridge felt lonely without the plug/extension cord (I guess they were friends) and decided that it didn't want to keep cold anymore--so we have had to throw away most of our perishables rather than take the chance of them becoming bad. The toilet started to constantly run water, and the shower head broke, so we have basically been using a hose for the cold shower.

I. Love. My. Life.
No, but really, I love my life. Even without all of these wonderful (amazing and great) conveniences, I love being out here. I love hearing Mongolian on the bus, I like knowing that I can ease-drop if I try hard enough, and I love how much better of a person I am becoming. There are still days where I really just want to eat at McDonald's and watch a movie or go on a run with Lucy, but I know that I am less than a year away from all of that. Right now, I have a great opportunity and need to make the most of it. Most of all, I have a great companion that makes up a huge difference. Even when we get burned, we end up walking back to the bus stop laughing the whole time and staying as stress-free as possible. Hahahah, or when crazy things happen, you just roll with the punches.

Such as on Saturday, we got locked IN our apartment. So our apartment has two sets of doors and at night, one of my roommates used to push the inside one (just a wood slab) closed as the security is from a heavy metal exterior door. The other night, it was really cold and I think that the wood door must have shrunk, wedged deep into the door frame, expanded, and then trapped us in. There was no getting out and we couldn't pull it out, we couldn't try to jam something in the door to make the little metal thing go in (you know, that thing on the side), and we couldn't remove the hinges. We were literally trapped in. We thought about climbing out the window, but as we are on the 4th floor, that was a bad idea. Lol, we are also on the opposite side of the city from the mission home, so we had to think creative. We ended up calling our district elders, (they live 5 minutes away), had to throw our keys out the window to them, they unlocked te exterior door, then all of us had to pull from the inside as they pushed the door from the outside. Hahah, as soon as the door finally wedged open, they turned around and booked it out of there. But we were free! Now we learned, don't shut the interior door.

Oh, but I taught the District Meeting on Saturday. It was like 40-60 ration for Mongolian to English--but speaking is becoming easier (I can finally say peace, joy, and thankful in Mongolian). Then, I guess that our ward really has a lot of faith in us as missionaries, because they had us give talks... again. This is the 3rd time within 9 weeks and I never have time to actually prepare anything (this is a critical step for me still) because they only tell us 5 minutes before we are to speak, but I have officially gotten over my fear of speaking Mongolian from the pulpit. Also, I have become the ward piano player, but more accurately I am the ward piano-music-player-button-pusher because the piano has the music already recorded and I just need to hit play at the beginning of each verse. My companion has become the music conductor for Sacrament and Sunday School, then I conduct in Relief Society. I wanted to be needed by my ward and I guess they were ready to oblige. It has been a huge learning curve this transfer, but it has been great.

I love being here. I love you all!
Sister Jessica Olsen

This is a picture of my district and, when there was a weird stomach bug that took my comp out of commission and one of my other roommates, I went on an unofficial STL split with Sister Wilkins. I was feeling very My Fair Lady this day

Hahahah, I got my package family and LOVED it!

Here are some random pictures of things that I see while walking around. The last one is a bus stop right in front of the church building and right now, there are all of these little pine nuts that everyone had been eating. The pigeons are everywhere.

So, I was able to make arepas that tasted like heaven on earth!!! I didn't take too many pics this week, so that is all that I have got.
Love you all!

This is a video of a random Mongolian singing and she was amazing! I love how she is dressed. :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Admonition of Paul - Week 33

Dear family and friends, 

So, this is something that I completely agree and live by:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

What is more lovely than that? To sum up my feelings about it, I believe in being a good person and surrounding myself with as much good as possible. If there is something that upsets me, I try to resolve it; if there is a stress in my life, I relieve it; if there is something scary and dark, I add light; and if there is something good, I seek after it. That is what I am doing on my mission, constantly seeking after something good and once I find it, I try to do everything that I can to appreciate the moment. 

Right now, the biggest appreciation that I have is that I have a wonderful companion that teaches me daily how to be a good person. What is even better, is that she doesn't even know it, but she is an example through the way that she lives her life and shares her light with everyone. This has been one of the most peaceful and fun transfers that I have had and I know that there has been a lot of growth within me. I am more courageous to just open my mouth and talk to anyone because ultimately, I know that my companion will be able to step in and help when my understanding runs out. Slowly, I am trying to emulate her example and be more understanding and loving instead of trying to control every moment of my day. 

In fact, I have a goal to have the least stressful mission possible. This is a wonderful opportunity and I do not want to miss it because I forget to lift up my eyes and see all the good that the Lord has blessed me with. There is good everywhere. Along with this admonition, I am also seeking after other good gifts sent from Heaven. I also believe in being able to ask our loving Heavenly Father for help in developing different traits, not necessarily to just be a cool trick, but to actually help others. In fact, I am seeking after the Gift of Tongues everyday in order to better communicate with all of the wonderful Mongolians surrounding me daily. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about how some are given:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man tprofit withal.
“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”
So, now it is time to test my faith. Do I believe it? Yes, I do. I have decided to read the Book of Mormon out loud everyday and finish within 90 days. This means that I will have to read 3 chapters out-loud daily, this will mean a sacrifice of 'free' time in pursuit of something higher and better. Do you want to join? I know that Heavenly Father is going to see my hard work, loosen my tongue, and make it possible for me to exercise my faith and come closer to Him, it is going to be the event that is going to continue to define my mission. It takes me roughly 45 minutes to just read one chapter, this is going to be good. I am seeking after it. (I was going to set up the reading schedule if anyone wanted to join, but I forgot to bring it with me to the internet. I will have it next time, but just try to read 3 chapters daily this week).

I hope that you all continue to seek after it also.

I love you!

Sister Olsen

PS - I WENT ON A HIKE TODAY AND IT WAS SO STINKIN' BEAUTIFUL! I hope that I get out to the countryside next summer. School is starting again next month (Sept. 15) so I will be stuck in the city until June. Keep your fingers crossed!

I LOVE MONGOLIA!! This was one of the best days ever. My comp and I have already talked about going on another one soon. :)

 So Sis. Bollwinkel had a package that came in the mail, and then got lost for a little bit (about 75 days). BUT WE FOUND IT! It was on a rainy day and we had to go out to the airport to get it, but it was completely worth it and the people there helped us out so much because we were the foreigners standing around looking confused. Do you see that awesome plane, though??

I joined a group of Missionaries singing 2 songs next month for the visiting area representative

Also, I am singing in the songs that all missionaries will use with English

Here are Mongolia pictures. Guess what! I also get to start wearing my badge again in church--I haven't really worn my badge since leaving the MTC