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

Brand Spankin’ New

November 12, 2014

Dear all,

Hello there!!  Well, this past week has been absolutely insane.  With my companion going home, and picking up an extra companion for the day because HER companion left early and everything else, we were absolutely WIPED!  I am paying for the lack of sleep now with an excellent dose of cold symptoms. WOO!!
So about a week before transfer calls, President Passey let me know that not only am I staying a Sister Training Leader, but I will also be training a brand spankin’ new missionary as well.  His words of comfort to me were, “This way, we get a great trainer, and you won’t get trunky!”  Haha.  Thanks President.  (FYI trunky= wanting to go home)   So that was a nice surprise that I wasn’t expecting even slightly.  But my new companion is just a doll!  Her name is Sis. Goodwin and when I saw the list of incoming missionaries I saw her name and I KNEW  that she was the one I would get.  And then when I saw the group of sisters, I singled her out and knew she was Sis. Goodwin.  Conclusion?  This was meant to be for my last transfer/5 weeks of my mission. I am SO grateful that we all receive revelation from God.
So yeah, Sis. Goodwin is so great and I love her.  She’s very very capable and I really don’t have to help much haha and she’s a lot nicer than I am so our ward will appreciate that hahaha.
Also, with our investigator Tim, we had SUCH great lesson with him.  He hasn’t been getting much out of the Book of Mormon so in our lesson we talked about STUDYING the book of Mormon vs just reading it.  His ears perked up and the Spirit was there to testify.  We will be discussing more of that later.   It just strengthened my Testimony that to get anything out of the Bible or the Book of Mormon, we have to study and apply what  we learn so that the Spirit can teach us vs just the words.
K, I love you all very much!!!!!!
Sis O’Donnell

The Spirit FILLED the Room

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear all,

This is what I have decided,.  When I get home, I’m going straight to my room, and with two pairs of sweatpants, three pairs of socks, a hoody, and 7 blankets, I will begin my season of hibernation for the next eight months.  My parents can install a kitty door in my door, the intent being that they can slide the necessary hot chocolate and soup in order that I might not go hungry.  That, my friends, is what I call survival.
On a more serious/miraculous note, last week on P-Day Sis. Clark and I decided to go to this really neat gift shop type of thing.  It’s full of hand crafted native american/hispanic tucsonly/arizonaly  things.  Jewelry, decorations, etc.  We started looking around the elaborate store when the owner (a Native American woman) asked how we were doing and if we needed help.  We started talking with her and she told us she was from another country.  After asking her what brought her to Arizona, she chuckled and asked if we really wanted to know.  We said we did and she went on to explain her whole life story in about an hour.  She said growing up her father died and she was abused greatly by her mother and everyone else she’d ever known.  The way in which she came to the U.S. was that she was kidnapped and brought here.  She went through the darkest things that a human being could go through.
But then came her incredible journey of finding Christ.  This woman, who you see in the picture, reached out to God and found her Savior.  Because of Him and her many sacred experiences, she is now a glowing, warm, and loving daughter of God who loves the Lord.  It was absolutely incredible.  The Spirit FILLED the room as she spoke and we all left in tears.
She doesn’t agree with the Book of Mormon, but she will get there eventually.  She’s too close to the Lord to not.
I just testify that the Savior is REAL.  He lives.  And he is always working to help us come back home.  How he loves us!!!!!  In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Can I Just Say How Happy I am?

October 27, 2014
Dear all,

If someone could write a letter to the Time and ask it to stop speeding up on me..that would be really really appreciated.
So!  this week was totally weird.  We were asked by the stake to help usher with the BYU ballroom dance team performance that came to Tucson this past week and THEN our president said we could WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!    <——-  that’s about how I felt about it.  It was the coolest thing ever.  And it was also the weirdest thing ever as a missionary.  The next morning we had zone conference hahaha which was DEFINITELY a good thing. And then the next day we had like half our day taken up by helping out with Hope Fest which is a festival where people donate clothes, shoes, etc and then people can just come and take what they want!  It took SOOOOO long and we didn’t even finish but it was sooo fun.  It was a week just FILLED with service including serving a woman in our ward whom we are working with.  She came to church TWICE this month!! 😀  She’s so happy.  She just glows.
Can I just say how happy I am?  I just testify that serving others is the quickest way to turn a rotten day into a day flourishing with precious, satisfying moments.  It’s so great.