Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meus Queridos,

Sorry about the e-mail title, lol it's the book that is right next to me on the shelf of a little convenience store inside of walmart. I thought it very moving. (it was Guia de Sobrevivência no Namoro which translates as Survival Guide to Dating)

BUT this week was GREAT! I had one more day in the hospital, from 5 in the morning until 6 in the evening with Elder Silva's kidney stone again, but it passed (we think) so it was my final stop there (we hope). I'll tell you one thing... UGH! It's like the only hospital in the world where they don't let you go back with the person, I had to stay in the outside part! You always see some weird stuff in the waiting part of the emergency room... I'll spare you all the details. Also there was one night that was so COLD!! I had to put on that huge jacket I have and get under a blanket! And the next day I even wore a sweater to the office, for the first time since June!

Anyway, I had a few days with less work to do, but I had to stay with my comp so I was in the office. I ended up reading quite a few talks from BYU speeches, particularly from Elder Holland and President Hinckley. They're just so good at writing! 

It's interesting the things that yall share with me, because I end up with the same impressions. Dad talked about how sometimes God leaves us to ourselves. I read about how no matter how much trust we have in the Lord (which is necessary), we will sometimes be left alone, so that he can see that we really believe in Him even without Him nursing us along every step. Mom talked about Elder Holland, who I have also been reading. Eric sent me a letter that talked about improving one day at a time. This is what I most saw, too. I have a list of 11 attributes that were in a talk by Elder Maxwell, and every week I'll work on another. Last week was humility and meekness, so I lost a lot of arguments. This week is patience, so I am really scared to pray to Heavenly Father for opportunities to develop my patience, haha, there's so much that could go wrong!

BUT the main point that he said is that it's through the Atonement that we can be better, that we can overcome our weaknesses and become perfect. Not even that we couldn't be good without Him, but that we can be even greater with Him.

That's my story. I love yall! Hope everyone is great, thank you for the love and support and emails.

Elder Nicholas Olsen
My team--Santos
"I love you, you idiot"

Dearest loved ones,

I, like Elder Olsen, hate to say it, but this week was a slow one. There's not too much to say - just doing the usual office-y stuff! However, there were a few highlights that I would like to share:

I have been working, recently, on a historical report of the Brazil Vitória Mission for the year 2014. Apparently, the Church keeps really good records - who knew! The report includes a few pages about the policies of the mission - what we focus on, how we work, etc. It also has a part that shows all of the zones, missionaries, and pictures of all of the cities that are currently hosting pairs of missionaries. And at the very end of the report, there is a section reserved for the experiences of missionaries during that year. I was blessed with the opportunity to read about 40 miraculous experiences of missionaries here during 2014 - It really built my testimony. Missionaries told of people that changed their lives completely around to follow Jesus Christ; they told of people that left work and loved ones to be able to follow Jesus Christ; they told of the tender mercies of the Lord. They told of answered prayers, and simple miracles. I sincerely believe that God works a miracle in our lives every day - these experiences taught me that we just need to look for the evidence of His work!

If anybody comes to Brazil and needs a driver's license, I've got your back. This week we jumped through a lot of hoops to be able to get a license for President Young. It required a lot of research, and a lot of trial and error - you know how the DMV is! It's funny - I never thought I would even be able to speak on the phone in Portuguese - but the Lord has blessed me so much with this language! When I started my mission, I wrote in my  journal - "If I ever get to the point of speaking fluent Portuguese, it'll be a miracle." Just one more evidence of the miracles that God works in our lives!

Also, yesterday at lunch I ate a LOT of fried bananas. I think that is my favorite Brazilian food - fried banana da terra. 

But I pray that you all have a good week! That you can recognize the little miracles that the Savior will realize in your life - all you have to do is look! Que a paz seja convosco...

Elder E Olsen

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

BOM DIA my friends! One more week gone.

This week is really weird, like I hate to say it but it was so ordinary that there's almost nothing for me to say about it... haha.

ONE thing that was cool is that we had a multi zone meeting with President Kuceki and we got to watch MEET THE MORMONS!!! It was so cool. He was like "This is one of the best selling films in the US... but I'm pretty sure it's just because all of the Mormons went and watched it!" Haha, idk if that's true, but it was cool to see a bunch of different perspectives of these people and how the gospel influenced their lives. I especially liked the one guy Bishnu from Nepali (the other missionaries didn't share my enthusiasm... I think I just liked it because of my fascination with other cultures) who studied in the US and converted and then went back to Nepal to help the people there. He helped them get clean water and built schools and stuff, he did things that really helped people that didn't have the opportunities so common in other parts of the world.

Elder Silva got better, after one Pday and one night for me badly spent on a hard hospital room couch, he ended up better and we actually got to go out and work this week. What a blessing to teach the "light of the world" and the "único caminho" to the people of this region. Now we are madly trying to baptize someone, because I think I am his only companion with whom he didn't baptize and he thinks its a second chance from God haha. maybe it is!

They say that an apostle is going to come and do a conference in a city in our mission called Uberlândia! I'm not really sure if its true, but I sure hope so and I hope I will be able to hear him speak. When y'all said that there was a conference with Elder Oaks in Michigan I thought you meant a broadcast or something, not that he would be right there with you! That is something special.

No mom, I haven't got the box yet. and yes they do Valentines in Brasil but its during June or something weird haha.  I love you guys and hope you're doing well, I know that Christ lives, and I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Nicholas Olsen

the view from my apartment

My dearest loved ones,

Welp, I can't say I didn't have any run-ins with the Police this week,... Yep, same old problems with the law here! That is, immigration law. Because I took the new Americans to the Federal Police to get registered, and now EVERYONE IS LEGAL! WOOO! And afterwards we got ice cream:

but  I think that was the most exciting part of the week! Unfortunately. I spent a LOT of time this week working on the departure dates of all the missionaries for this year, because the whole system had been messed up somehow. After looking so much at the dates that these missionaries will be able to go home and see their families, you could say that I am sufficiently trunky.

BUT. I did learn something really interesting this week about following the example of our leaders, and in particular of the prophets and apostles. Presidente Young asked me to draft a letter to send to the parents and priesthood leaders of missionaries that come to hold a position of leadership in the mission - to let them know that their missionaries are growing and maturing. He really liked the letter - but I learned a lesson as he began to correct my formatting. He said: "All of our correspondence for the mission should be patterned on the correspondence of the First Presidency" - and began to show me how the Prophet and his counselors format their letters. Truly we should emulate the Savior and His Servants in everything - even down to our formatting!

Our recent convert Deborah is doing super well. The other day we showed up at her house, and she had made a cake for us! She is indescribably happy to be a member of the church. She even took out her nose piercing without us saying anything to her - I think the other church members have been helping her quite a bit! When we asked her why she took it out, she said "Well we've got to change, right?" She really understands the principle of repentance and the chance that she has to make her life much happier!
....and her dog had puppies! 

I have come to realize what a blessing it is to be able to teach and testify to people about the reality of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, about the importance and necessity of baptism,... about any gospel truth! I miss doing it! I love working in the mission office, and I now that my work is important and sacred - but I wish I could  get out more to teach. That is one of my goals for this next week - to be able to leave the office and teach the gospel more!

I hope that you are all well, and if not, let me know. I'll send off some prayers on your behalf. I know that the scriptures are an anchor in our life, and that they hold the answer to all of our problems - particularly the Book of Mormon. I love y'all, and I love Jesus Christ more. Sorry, but He is #1.

Elder Eric Olsen 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015! ...week 2!

So I heard that it is a tradition that the second week of the year, you have to do something that gets you sent to the hospital - is that true? If it is, then we fulfilled it! One of my old companions, Elder Branco, had kidney stones, and we had to take him to the hospital for surgery. It was funny, because we found out at 4:00 Thursday that we had to pay R$6,000 for his surgery - in CASH- by 5:30.... yikes. So President, my companion and I drove around to every bank we could find to take out all the money possible. If I didn't know, I would have thought that we were the mafia! But we got the money, and the surgery went well, and está tudo bem!

We had a baptism this past Sunday! Deborah, who is the daughter of another woman that was baptized a little while ago, decided to follow Christ. And since Sunday, she has gone out with the church youth group almost every night this week! We asked her if she is liking the church, and she said - I am LOVING it! When people accept the Savior into their lives and work to become better, they become happier. It's a fact.

I hadnt realized, but it had been a long time since I had taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - this week we were blessed with the opportunity to teach it. Sometimes, when we are away form a good thing for a long time, we forget how good it is. I had forgotten how sweet it was to remember the simple truths of the Restoration - the Spirit was really strong when my companion recited Joseph Smith's First Vision:

 saw pillar of light exactly over myhead, above the brightness of the sunwhich descended graduallyuntil it fell upon me.
When the light rested upon me sawtwo Personageswhose brightness and glory defy all description,standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, callingme by name and said, pointing to the other—This is MyBeloved SonHear Him!
Wow, the Church really is true! Sometimes we just need a reminder.

Also WOW there are so many cool things I want to share!This week I realized the importance of parents teaching their children the gospel. I was thinking about my favorite chapters of scripture, and saw that some of my favorites - from Alma 36 to Alma 42 - are all letters and counsels from a father to a son. Some of the most powerful testimonies and teaching are from parents to children - shout out to Stan and Jen! I hope I can teach my children one day in the same way that you both taught me.

That's about it! I know that God lives, that He will send angels before our face if we let Him, and that if we keep the commandments, we will be blessed. It simply is the truth. 

Much love,

Elder E Olsen

Enjoy the cold!!! ENJOY IT! It is a nippy 400 billion here in Goiânia, just about the temperature that makes you wanna proselyte without pants. Fortunately we have a dress code so nobody is doing that. 

Well this is sooo crazy.... Eric went to the hospital for kidney stones and so did I!!

Well it wasn't for me, thank goodness. Yesterday morning Elder Silva was having a really bad pain in the back, so we headed off for the hospital. Admitted into the emergency room 8:30, but I had to wait outside. About 10 I asked what was going on, they said he was taking medicine in the vein and that it would take about another 40 minutes... An hour later, I asked what was happening and he was doing tests, another hour later he was also doing tests... long story short, after about 10 hours split between trying to sleep and going to buy overpriced snacks, he was taken in for the night. So I went home, took a shower, and headed back to spend the night on a harder-than-I-would-like couch with broken air conditioning. BUT with all that I am still so grateful to God... that it wasn't me!! Haha, and ps Elder Silva is fine now.

ANYWAY this week we have had a challenge given us from the President: Read the Book of Mormon for 15 minutes each day, highlighting the places where it talks about the Savior. Wow. I can't even believe how much it talks about Him! By the end of this my entire Book of Mormon will be marked up! Also I have been reading the book he gave me as a birthday present, which is also about the Book of Mormon, and how we can apply it in our lives. I have just been able to strengthen my testimony a lot about the BOM!

I had an experience a lot like that of Eric this week as well, in that I was able to go out a few times (after staying inside a while with Elder Silva because of his foot probs) and just teach and do normal missionary things. It still gives me a little bit of fear, but how great it is to be able to share this message with everyone. When you share it, you know it's true. "More testimonies are gained on the feet than on the knees."

But thats pretty much my life! Thank you for everything you do for me, the love and the prayers. And thanks Eric for the sweet package.

Love you all!


Elder Nicholas Olsen

Monday, January 5, 2015

A birthday and a new year in Brazil

So, I know I am a little late in saying this, but.........


Brazilians put WAY more emphasis on the new year than on Christmas, which was a little strange to me. On New Years Eve, everybody dresses up in all white and goes to the beach. Well, I don't know what they do in Goias, because there is no beach,... But here EVERYBODY - minus the missionaries - went to the beach to party down! In our house, we grilled some meat - the universal way to celebrate anything, brazilian-style. And as they counted down to the new year, all the other Elders grabbed eggs - I thought that I was about to witness yet another Brazilian new year tradition! But when they clock stuck midnight, they all smashed their eggs on my head! Instead of a Brazilian new year tradition, I was the victim of a Brazilian birthday tradition.

Yeah, I am 20 now. No, I didn't do anything for my birthday - not even a cake :( But I will make cupcakes this week, so it's all good.

Also, I gained a victory in the office this week, because I convinced the IT dept of missionary services that I need a new computer! So that was kind of a birthday present, even though it won't come until March or April.

AND our investigator Deborah will be baptized tomorrow, and it's all good! She is super excited, and is really showing her faith and trust in God by taking this step.

But other than New Years, my week was characterized by two things: the musical melodies of Stanford Olsen

and the wonderful words of Jeffrey R Holland.

First off, Stan, wow. You are an inspiring vocalist! My only sorrow is that there are not many videos of you on the internet. If you wanted to make some and send them to me, I would NOT complain. You have been a great instrument to bring the spirit into the office. Thank you!

Secondly, Elder Holland is the bomb. His talks are SO good, like I can't even explain. This week I just decided that I was going to read a bunch of them, and It was a really great experience. I really felt my testimony strengthen with respect to the modern day prophets and apostles. One particularly good talk was called Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments. It talks about marriage and virtue - HIGHLY recommended. 

But yeah, that's about it. Hopefully by the end of 2015 you'll see my smiling face back in the US! But no promises...

Much love to you all! I know that God lives, and that he cares about us. He is worried about our well-being, and wants to bless us. And as we do what He asks, we allow Him to open the floodgates and make us much happier in our lives!

Oh also, I got a tie for a present from my recent convert Antônia! And we had lunch at her house on the 1st.  She is the one in the middle. 

Happy 2015!

Elder Eric Olsen


Caramba, dad first of all that was a sick email haha I loved it! Parabéns! Also mom haha "Since I'm on a roll today..."
Well, fortunately I was spared from the Brasilian Birthday Tradition, but New Years was pretty sweet. Here there is no beach, so people just generally party. We went out at 8 on the 31st to get some snacks but everything was closed... only one really chique market was open (like as if it were Fresh Market) so we bought some soda and fancy grape juice and left. Then, as the clock struck 12 (are we bad missionaries? idk but the assistants were with us so I hope its okay!), we watched the fireworks and hooted and hollered into the night! I had all but forgotten that it was my bday, until all 6 Elders that were there started singing parabéns to me and then everyone gave a dogpile hug. Classic young man tomfoolery.
Also on the 1st was the Leadership Meeting, and because it was New Years that meant lunch at Presidents house! where they also (all 20 zone leaders plus sister training leaders plus the office) sang parabéns again! so that was sweet.
I've been trying to learn for a few weeks about how to have the Spirit, how to have the presence of God more in our lives. And I have come to a quite simple conclusion: as we draw closer to Him, He draws closer to us. When God sees that we are nos esforçando (idk in English) to get closer and to learn more and have more light in our lives, he sees that effort and rewards it. Scripture study, prayer, going to church, being kind. There are no secrets in the gospel. (Granted there are mysteries, but that's for another day) It is simple. Just do what is right, and the blessings will follow.
I love you guys, I'm so thankful to have such wonderful people in my life, especially my family for 20 YEARS WOOHOO!! I know that the Savior lives and loves us, and that the Book of Mormon is true, and that if we are faithful we will inherit all of the gifts that God is so anxious to bestow upon us.

Elder Nicholas Olsen

ps sorry no pics i forgot my camera today