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

With a Clean Slate

December 1, 2014

Dear all,

We had a pretty fantastic miracle this week!!
Okay, so there was this woman who’s husband is not a member and she hasn’t been to church for years because she got offended by someone.  We’ve tried her door a BILLION times and got rejected by her husband.  Well, on exchanges (when a companionship trades companions with another companionship for the day) the sister who was with me was helping me identify families in our congregation who have members of the family who are not members of the church.  She found this family the B’s (the woman mentioned above).  I groaned a little bit because we had tried them SO often but I decided we would go anyway.  This time we left a note on her door asking her to call us so we could meet with her.
Well.  A couple days later guess what???  SHE CALLED US!!!! WOOOO!!!! (I hope this becomes a trend).  She actually set up a time with us to meet!
So we go there and talk with her and she tells us without us prompting her or anything, “You must have come at the right time.  For YEARS people have tried to get me back to church but I always sent my husband to tell them no.  But when I got your note God told me to call you back, so I did.  And now I want to call the Bishop, meet with him, and start coming back to church with a clean slate.”   ???????????? WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So happy.  It was awesome!!
Well, I recognize time is running out for me in Arizona and it breaks my heart.  Words cannot express how much I love this place and these people.  Please pray for me that the last couple weeks I will be able to use to their full potential.
Thank you everyone!!!!
Sister O’Donnell

“I Felt That In My Heart”

November 24, 2014

Dear all,

Happy early Thanksgiving!!!  What a WONDERFUL holiday it is. In fact it’s probably my favorite.  I’m trying to think more about what I am grateful for.  I’m reminded of President Uchtdorf’s talk on gratitude two conferences ago and a sister missionary who really applied what he said into her life.  She’s one of the happiest people I know because she’s just always grateful!  How awesome is that?
One thing I’m SO grateful for is revelation from God, or in other words, His guidance and direction/answers to prayers.  I am grateful to know that He loves and is so incredibly and perfectly aware of ALL of His children.  Example:
A member of our ward met an elderly gentleman and helped him get home.  This member told us to go try him and see if he was interested in hearing our message of teh Gospel.  We tried his home SO many times and could never get a hold of him.  Until a couple of days ago.
The man was named Raphael and he was soooo sweet.  We shared with him bits and pieces of the Gospel, striving to understand what he needed to hear the most.  Feeling a little lost because of his accent and how he would go off on tangents we asked if we could say a prayer with him.  He accepted and we did so.  Afterward he said, “Thank you so much…”  He paused, covering his face with his hand, his body shaking as he struggled to compose himself.  With tears in his eyes, and his voice quivering, he said, “I felt that in here,”  he gestured to his heart.  “I felt that in my heart.  Thank you so much.”
That was a testimony to me that God is aware of His children and He knows what they need.  While I don’t know whether Raphael is particularly interested in learning more, I know that He felt God’s love for him in that moment, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to witness that and be a part of it.
I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving is joyful as well as stomachfull.  I love you all!!
Sister O’Donnell

What a weekend!

October 6, 2014

Hello Hello Hello Hello!!!!!

What a week.  What a weekend.  What a General Conference weekend!!  GAH!!!
So here’s the thing.  Our investigator Tim who totally said he would come to General Conference on Sunday morning ended up not showing.  So Sis. Clark and I drove straight to his apartment afterward and after a long conversation which involved him calling me a smart alec (I do cherish his words of endearment) he agreed to go to the last session.  He also admitted that if we hadn’t shown up at his door he probably wouldn’t have come.
And then he did!!!!  And he said afterwards, “I’m glad I came.  I was very impressed.” And the talk that we were worried he wouldn’t get anything out of ended up hitting home for him.  AND he wants to feed us dinner.  Dang.  AH!
Ya know…it’s the little things.  It really is.  Sis. Clark and I had fasted and prayed SO HARD that the people we invited to conference would come.  He is the only one who came and it was for the last session of conference.  One might say that it was a waste of a fast and our faith…but it wasn’t.  God’s ways are not our ways.  I trust Him.
That’s all folks!  Hope you have a wonderful week!  Mine is sure starting out wonderful 😀
Sis. O’Donnell

Streams to Rivers!

September 8, 2014

Hey there!!

So today for P Day we had the brilliant idea to go hiking this morning while it was nice and cloudy.  I repeat. Nice and cloudy.
So we did!!
Then cloudy turned into misty and then misty turned into light rain and then light rain turned into pelting rain!  Hahaha it was quite the adventure coming out of that canyon with the water rushing down as deep as our ankles and having to cross streams that turned very quickly into almost rivers.  But we made it out alive.  So that’s good.  It was way fun.  However, I’m 100% adapted to Arizona weather.  When it was all humid all the missionaries were so excited for the light rain and I was like…heh.  No thanks!  I’ll take the sun and the heat.  But the thunder and lightning is something that is essential to my well being so Heavenly Father knew exactly where to send me 🙂
Anyway.  You know what’s cool?  Is that the Lord truly does bless us when we pray for charity.  Even if we already feel like we love everyone…we can still pray for it and He will grant us that gift.  Why wouldn’t He?  Doesn’t He want us to love HIs children?  The answer is yes.  And I have found that in my own life.
Work wise they are about the same, but my companion and I’s resolve is much stronger.  And that’s just how it goes sometimes.  Sometimes nothing happens…and then we work harder…then nothing happens again…so we just keep working harder!  AH!  I love the Gospel!!!!!!!!!!

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

Patience, Squeals, and Butterflies

June 30, 2014

Dear all,

Well, investigator wise, things have slowed down. The girls we are working with right now all seem to have the same problem with faith/desire. How to instill desire in someone??? NO IDEA!!! Just pray and work really hard hahaha which is what we’re doing. It gets frustrating but the Lord has DEFINITELY blessed me with more patience hahaha that’s for sure.
We are also starting to work with our members a LOT more. We both felt very inspired about this and we are finally putting our plans into action. It’s wonderful! Oh man, members are so great. We just got like, 8 ward missionaries called! WAHOO!!!!!!!! I accidentally squealed in Sacrament Meeting out of pure joy…hopefully no one heard…

Oh! Our new mission president arrives today! CRAZY!!!! I have butterflies. Oh man. It makes me nervous. But I think it will be such a good change for our mission. We will see how it goes! GAH! We are supposed to meet him on July 4th.

Before I forget, because I know I will…. HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!!!!! ….early.

I love you all so much!!!


Sis. O’Donnell