December 8, 2014

Dear all,

Well….yep!  This is it haha.  My last email!  AH!!!  This is the absolutely weirdest thing I’ve ever done.  EVER!  Coming on a mission was a piece of cake.  Enduring on a mission was difficult and joyful.  Ending a full time mission just plain stinks.  There were points on my mission that I wondered if I would be one of those missionaries who would come back and say, “I LOVED my mission!!!”  But I can truly, honestly, 100% with total confidence, say that I have both needed, and LOVED MY MISSION!!!!!!!!!  There are deep truths that I have learned that I personally could not have learned any other way.  I have come to learn about my Savior, and the fact that I have SO much more to learn from Him.
I wasn’t perfect.  At all.  I made PLENTY of mistakes.  I had trials and challenges that I didn’t ever even dream I would have whilst on my mission, and some of them I KNEW I would have.  But the Savior has been with me every step of the way.
I can’t fully put into words what this all means to me and I don’t think that I ever will.  As I was buying a ring that reminded me of Tucson, I realized at first that I was buying it as a way to remember and to almost prove that I served a mission.  But I hope that when I come home that the person I’ve become shows that I’ve served a mission.
You know how incredible people are?  They are amazing.  Every single one of us is such an individual and we are all so beautiful.  The people who sit next to me aren’t strangers anymore.  When you look into their eyes you can see that they have existed for an eternity.   I hope that I always remember that.  They are my family.
 Thank you everyone who has prayed for me and supported me.  I have felt many times the strength of your prayers and I needed every single one of them, so thank you.
Enough of that!
This week was harder but we finally met with a man named Anthony who is INCREDIBLE!!  Apparently, his son came to him in a dream before he was even born and told his dad that he was coming.  Anthony callled his wife and said, “You’re pregnant.”  She found out 4 hours later that that was the case.  Anthony wanted to name him Zion but his wife didn’t want to .  So they settled on Darion which Anthony had never really heard before.  And when they looked up the meaning of the name with that spelling, it means something along the lines of, “strong leader of the Mount Zion”…!!!!!!!!!!  Yeah.  Crazy!!!!  Anyway, Darion is 12 now and apparently he’s a saint and wants to learn more about religion.  HEHEHE!! YAY!!!!  They are so amazing.  SO amazing.
Yep!  It was awesome and they’re awesome, and life is awesome!!!
Sister O’Donnell

Hastening His Work RIGHT NOW

August 25, 2014

Dear all,

Wow.  Well, here’s the thing.  The Lord is Hastening His work, RIGHT NOW!!!!
Ever since I was transferred….aka less than a week ago, I felt something stirring inside of me.  As I have studied, pondered, prayed, and worked, I have come to recognize that more and more that the Savior is running this work and He has an assignment for every single one of us that we must must must MUST acccomplish!!  He is so willing to help us if we but search and act and ask for His guidance.
For instance.  When I got here I was able, line upon line, to understand more fully my purpose for being here in this ward.  That is to help the members develop the love and skills to be member missionaries.  I have had this revelation confirmed to me over and over and over again and never in my life or my mission have I felt the burning within me of the Spirit this strongly.  It is amazing!  Our ward mission leader last night shared with us his vision for the ward which was what my vision was right on the dot.  Coincidence?  Absolutely not.  He told us he had never felt so comfortable sharing his ideas and vision before with other missionaries until now.  Until NOW.  Now is the time!!  I don’t know how else to express myself about this, but I know from the bottom of my heart that my mission is every single member of the church’s mission.  Yes, I am a teacher.  But the purpose to “invite others to come unto Christ” is for both myself and everyone else.  The approach is different, but the same nevertheless.
Anyway, today we had our Mission Leadership Council and had Elder Malm a general authority there with us to address us.  As he did, the Spirit  was overwhelming.  He had been calling missionaries up to ask them questions so we could all learn from each other.  But then he pointed at me and asked me to come up and share my Testimony of me being apart of the Hastening of the Work of Salvation.  Ultimately I said  the things I’m saying to you.  That I can see the vision much larger than myself and that this vision will carry with me even after I go home.  As I spoke the Spirit again burned throughout my soul and I could barely keep from trembling.
The point is that I KNOW.  I don’t think.  I KNOW that things are picking up right now.  And the Lord has the expectation of us who have this knowledge to do all that we can to invite others to taste of His goodness as we have.  Look to Alma the Younger’s example in Alma 36.  What did he do right after He tasted of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness only to be obtained through living the Gospel?  Verse 24.  He shared it with others.
In the end it’s not going to matter how many hours we spent at work or school or sports.  Not unless our time was used to the benefit of God’s children by inviting them to learn of Him and act on that knowledge.
I testify simply that I know these things are true and there is nothing or anyone that can deter me from this testimony.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

He came to church!

Monday, October 14, 2013
Dear all,
Limited time today but just quickly it was a pretty up and down week.  Missions are hard some times.  Crazy right???? Who would’ve thunk!
Anyway, we had some fantastic highlights though.  We’ve been teaching an older gentleman whose wife is a member and is just getting back into activity.  His name is Brian and for 12 years he hasn’t set foot in a church because he has had bad experiences with other churches.  Long story short, we’ve been teaching him for like…2 months now and he FINALLY came to church yesterday! 😀  yaaayyyyy!!! and he really liked it!  We had given him a church tour like two weeks ago and he really really liked it.  Also, we showed him the Restoration video and he cried and totally felt the Spirit!!! GAH!!!!! Soooooo exciting!!!  so yeah that was just the best thing ever. Ummm that’s all for now.  Hope you’re all having a great week!!!


Precious Souls, Calloused Toes, Barf Plate?

Monday, October 7, 2013
Dear All,
Sorry about the no email last week.  We had to take a survey and it took FOREVER!!
First I want to start off with an incredible woman.  Her name is Sandy.  I might have mentioned her before but just in case, we started doing bible studies with her and her Less Active friend Heather.  We would incorporate the Book of Mormon now and then and we finally invited her to church.  She accepted the invite.  We also invited her to the General Relief Society Broadcast and she LOVED it!  We gave her a church tour of the building and showed her the baptismal font.  We talked a little bit about it and she said, “I’ve been thinking about baptism a lot lately.  I’d really love to get baptized.”  She called of afterward bc we hadn’t set up a return appointment yet and asked when we could start the lessons haha.  We felt chastened.
So THEN we started the lessons and the first lesson we talked about the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon etc and before we even told her to, she just said, “Oh I need to read the Book of Mormon and find out if it’s true!”  Let me just say that this woman has felt the Spirit SO many times already and she can recognize it more than I can.  Our next appointment with her we talked about the Plan of Salvation and we asked her if she had been reading the Book of Mormon and how she felt about it.  She said, “You know, I’ve been reading it and I get that same feeling that I get when you all come over and when I go to church and everything.  It’s the same feeling and it feels so good!  But God just hasn’t told me yet if it’s true.  But it’s funny because somehow I feel like it is already.”  GOLDEN!  We explained that that WAS her answer from the Lord through the Holy Ghost.  I cannot TELL you how incredible she is.  She’s definitely not a fast learner of the mind, and she might even have some mental challenges (very slight) but I have never met anyone to recognize the Spirit and follow it with such faithfulness as she does.  It’s incredible.  I truly feel honored to be the means of bringing this precious soul the truth.  She is very very very special and it just testifies to me that you don’t have to be the most talented individual, the smartest, brightest, quickest, physically fit, beautiful, individual to learn the most important skill that anyone on this earth can learn.  How to recognize the Spirit and follow it with exactness.  She’s an example to me.
She’s basically the highlight of our missionary work right now.
OH!  So Conference was pretty much AMAZING!!  If you haven’t seen all of it WATCH IT!!  Your soul will be filled 🙂
So here’s some pictures to sum up the past few weeks..
check out those toes!  am  I proud of these feet?  Yes I am.  Are those callouses on the TOP of my feet?  Yes.  Yes, they are.
This native american woman we are working with (less active) made me and my comp some earrings!  Cool fact. Native Americans purposely make a mistake in everything they make to remind them that no one is perfect.
Somehow, I can just see Cailin cracking up about this…  but don’t worry, me and three other sisters were dying for about twenty minutes.  I think things just get a lot funnier the longer you’re out here…

Skirts on Bikes

Monday, September 23, 2013
Hey Guess What?
WE’RE ON BIKES NOW!!  Yaaaaaayyyyyy for burning more calories!!!  No but seriously the bikes are way fun…except for helmets.  Those stink.  And make me sweat.  Also, wearing skirts while biking is…definitely the biggest challenge of the entire bike riding experience.  BUT I’m loving it mostly.  I had wanted to be on a bike anyway.  We gave the new elders our car because their area is super big with lots of hills and everything is really spaced out so it’s good that they have it.  But they got it sooo dirty!  Like, EW!  We saw it today and were in horror at the nasty windows.  Why are boys so gross?  I guess that’s one of those deep questions of the soul that we won’t know until the after life.  Anyway…
Oh another downer about the bike is that we used to go play Ultimate/football in the mornings with part of the zone and now that we’re on bikes we can’t get to the park unless we wake up at like 5 in the morning hahaha which I can guarantee I will NOT do.  So that’s a bummer.
Buuuuuut good news!  Hahhaa and sort of funny.  So this couple Anthony and Julie were referred to us by other sisters.  They weren’t taught anything, they were just given a church tour and challenged to read The Book of Mormon which they have been doing and LOVING.  So we were stoked to meet them.  We met Anthony and invited him and his wife to the baptism the next day.  Ha.  Well, at the baptism the elder who was doing it had never done one before, and he was baptizing this adorable frail old Hispanic guy named Ignacio (sp?).  Most stressful baptism I’ve ever been to.  Ignacio didn’t know how to go down in the water so the first time was a total failure and it just looked painful.  The second time, the Elder basically just forced him down into the water so it really looked like he was trying to drown him hahaha and my companion and I are just sitting there at the edge of our seats like freaking out, with our investigators (Julie, whom we hadn’t even met officially yet) next to us just watching and we were soo scared that they were like…scarred for life.  But then we talked to them afterwards and Anthony said, “Wow, I really liked it!  I feel really good right now. I’m going to go to work very happy!”  Hahahah yaaaayy!!!  Just goes to show that things don’t have to be perfect for the Spirit to be there.
Well anyway, the work is carrying on!  We’re working with a guy named Alfredo (40s hispanic man with crazy dogs that bruised my foot just by stepping on it) and he’s adorable.  He really wants to read the Book of Mormon and “find out what’s in it” and we feel that he has a lot of promise.
Oh hey!!  So it’s a super small world!  That guy that everyone told me about in our stake, Logan Graham is now in my zone hahahaa.  Who would’ve thought eh?  It’s cool having someone who knows New York, especially because everybody else talks about Utah and Idaho and I’m like, “huh?” the whole time.  Finally there’s someone who knows what a real autumn is….at the Sacred Grove.
I love ou all very very much!  And I truly love this Gospel.  I’m learning so much about patience, and love, and compromise that it’s mind blowing.  Sometimes it’s really hard, but this place is really feeling like my home most of the time and the Spirit just overwhelms me with joy just by serving here.  I believe that anyone can have that feeling just by serving the Lord.  You can always feel at Home when the Spirit is dwelling in your heart.  Always.
~Sis. O’Donnell~