Sister Mckenzie Madsen
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111

Friday, December 28, 2012

merry (late) christmas! :)




hi everybody!!
sorry i didn't put an email out last week (for those of you who were looking for one). i had to use my computer time for other things! but i hope you all had a FANTASTIC christmas. i sure did. :) it seems to be a stereotype that most missionaries struggle a lot around christmas time with homesickness, etc. however, though i did miss my family, this was probably the best christmas i've ever had. :) we got to do tons of fun christmas stuff... we had a mission christmas party with all the missionaries in the whole mission where we did a gift exchange and sang christmas songs together and watched a slide show of everyone who was baptized this year. we had a ward christmas party that TWO of our investigators came to last minute!! so great. and i LOVE MY BRANCH. we had a "back to bethlehem" night at the battalion on christmas eve, where we were officially called to be taxed (our taxes were chocolate coins and we weren't permitted to enter without them)--period clothing was required and we re-enacted the story of christ's birth, just like we used to do at home every year. on christmas morning, we had a hayday opening christmas presents (thanks for all the amazing gifts!!) and then we went to another battalion "service project" (basically a quilt-tying party) with lots of yummy food and christmas music and gifts, and one of the senior sisters who's a massage therapist was even giving us massages on her real massage chair. (i had to miss out on that because i was giving tours, but just to give you a taste of how spoiled we are. :P) later that day we went to a member of our branch presidency's house for christmas dinner. it felt just like home being around the table with all of them--oh, and their son is in culinary school. yeah. it was fantastic. then we went christmas caroling to our favorite peoples houses!! :) :) the whole season was just so much fun.
but all those things are only a small part of the reason why my christmas was so incredible. the biggest reason is because i was sharing the news of christ's birth as his chosen representative. i know that sounds cliche, but it's TRUE. the times that i felt the very happiest this season weren't the times that i was sitting and eating good food, or opening my wonderful packages. it was the times that i was giving myself to those that needed the good news of the gospel... our lessons with our less actives and investigators when the spirit was so strong that it was almost tangible. and i started to notice a STARK contrast between the times that i felt temporary happiness because of the "glee" of the season--which was still so happy and wonderful :)--and the sincere happiness that comes because of the JOY of the season... of His season. it's not something i can put into words very well without sounding ridiculously cheesy. but i really felt it. :) i love christmas on a mission! i'll never have a christmas quite the same.
one of the biggest miracles was joshua. last week we had an amazing lesson with him... but the next day he sent us a huge text saying he was done. :( he was just so terrified of leaving behind the "fun" things of the world, even though he KNEW it was true. he freely admitted that. well... he never texted back when we responded, so i thought he was for sure out of the picture. but leave it to sister miller... gosh. i don't know what i'd do without her. i'm not sure i'm going to know how to be a missionary any more when i'm not her companion! anyway, she called him on saturday, the 22nd, four days later, and left a simple voicemail saying we just wanted to see him and share a quick christmas message with him. and he responded!! he said we could come over that very night! so we went over... and it was so obvious that something was weighing him down. we got talking and he explained how he'd just slept most of the day and played video games... and he was just feeling unsatisfied with the way he had been spending his time... it just wasn't uplifting or fulfilling. so he decided to read the book of mormon.   ?!?!?  we were shocked. and then we just kept talking, and we read alma 7 with him and talking about christ, and the spirit was so strong,...  and then... i don't know, all the sudden, he was saying he wanted to be baptized!! it was crazy. :) best miracle ever. and THATS what christmas is really about. :) :) I LOVE THE GOSPEL!!
so even though christmas is over, KEEP SPREADING THE GOOD NEWS!! :) we can celebrate christ all year round.
i love you all so much. thank you for your happy prayers and thoughts my way. :)
love,
sister madsen


Saturday, December 15, 2012

ho, ho, ho !





Hi again.
I LOVE Christmas time!! AAHH!! It's the best. Last night for the ward activity we went to the San Diego Temple and saw all the lights and listened to the choir concert and drank hot chocolate... and two of our investigators came!! :) We were so glad. Most of the investigators we're teaching right now aren't ones that we've found through members' friends... they were just street contacts. Hence, they don't have solid fellowshippers (people that they've grown up with/are solid friends with that are mormon). So it was huge that they were both at the activity so they could start making friends in the branch. :) And it was just so fun being in the Christmas-y atmosphere! Ha ha. I loved it.
We've had a couple amazing lessons with Joshua this week. It is SO COOL to see the spirit working in him... that's the best way I can describe it! People just change. We talked about the commandments, and there were a lot of things that hit him pretty hard because he doesn't exactly live very many of them. But he can feel that it's what he needs to do. At the end of one of the lessons, he said the closing prayer, and he thanked Heavenly Father for the gift of the Spirit (what investigator uses those words?) and for His Son Jesus Christ. If you had heard his prayers the first time we met him, you wouldn't have believed it was the same person saying this prayer! He's still got a way to go, but he truly recognizes how this can help him change into the person he wants to become. And it was CRITICAL that our member Devin was there to teach him with us... we met at his house, and there were a few things that he said/added to the lesson that were KEY. I have gained such a testimony of member-present lessons.
In fact, that's the area that we're really trying to improve right now. Like I said, all of the investigators we're teaching currently are ones we found ourselves, and it's just not NEARLY as effective as when branch members are the ones bringing their friends into the gospel. The mindset needs to change from "members assisting the missionaries in the work" to "missionaries are here to assist the members in their missionary work." The dynamics of missionary work are changing!! I can't wait to be a member missionary when I come home... I think I never want to live in Utah again. I just want to live somewhere that I can make a whole bunch of non-member friends and bring them unto Christ. (Okay, not really... I love Utah. And there's work to be done there too!! Pray for missionary opporutnities, everyone! Your missionaries will LOVE you!)
Something really funny happened on Wednesday. We were on our way home from the area at like 8:45 pm and we were stopped at a red light when the guy in the truck next to us started waving at us... it was dark, so I couldn't tell if I knew him (we were pretty close to the church and I figured it might have been someone that had just left from there), so I waved back. :) Well, then he rolled down the window and started talking to us. Turns out we didn't know him. "What are you girls up to tonight?" he said. Ha ha. We told him we were missionaries. He said he was on his way to a bar. :P But we made him curious, so he kept asking us questions as we were sitting at this light... we kind of explained what we do and stuff, and then the light turned green... but he wanted to keep talking to us about it, so he yelled to us, "I'll pull over!" Turns out he was a young single adult who lives on the same street as our chapel! We got his name and number and invited him to church on Sunday. :) Ha ha, probably my favorite form of contacting that I've used on my mission so far!!
On Thursday we went to find Cody again (our investigator that doesn't have a phone, so we just show up at his house most of the time), and we found him! He is SUCH a good kid... he's just mixed up in the wrong stuff. His "brother" Devin was there, too, so he joined in... though he wouldn't admit to wanting to be there. It was such a neat moment--we just sat there in their driveway, leaned over the hood of this kid's car, reading scriptures together. It sounds funny, but it was cool--they feel like my little brothers!! And Cody just gets it. I decided that both he and Devin have such strong spirits that the only way Heavenly Father could try them in this life was by throwing them into terrible family situations. I really hope that while they're still young and "swayable," we can pull them out of there.
Then we went to dinner--Vinod treated us to authentic Indian food! He is so funny. He was so excited to show us how HE eats... he was absolutely disgusted at break the fast last week. Ha ha. He bought us SO MUCH FOOD! We were looking at the strange assortment of treats they had displayed in a case, and when we asked him to explain what they were, he went up to the lady and asked her for one of EACH! We kept telling him he didn't have to (AKA we didn't want all that!) but he just kept saying "it's fine guys, it's fine." (It's much funnier if you listen to it in your head in a thick Indian accent. :) ) Also, on Sunday, we went to dinner at a member's home and invited Vinod last minute. He texted us back and said "I am really excitetid!" :) So we were sitting at the table waiting for him to show up when the door bell rang, and walks in with this huge bouquet of flowers! He gave them to Paul (our member)'s mom, because his mother had taught him never to show up at someone's home without something to offer. SO sweet! At the end he asked if we could take a "snap" (haha--a picture); we found it afterward that it was his first time since coming to America that he had been invited to a family dinner, and he was just so happy about it! Even though he hated the food they had there cause he's a vegetarian!! Ha ha, it was so great.
I did have a couple hard days this week too though. I decided that there is probably nothing that upsets me more than watching people back-track in their amazing progress. One of our less actives that's been doing so well texted us on Friday morning and said he didn't plan on going to church anymore, completely out of the blue. It hit me pretty hard... I cried right on the spot. (It ended up working out, but in the moment, it hurt.) Then Saturday night we found out that one of our recent converts had reverted to his old habits again. :( I just think, COME ON, children of God, how can you turn your back so quickly on the happiness that you JUST found?? It makes me SO unbelievably sad. Sometimes I just dont get how Heavenly Father can take it... how can He be perfectly happy when there's so much suffering like this? Because if this is how His heart breaks, too, and He has infinitely more children that He loves the way have come to love them... if He weeps when we suffer, how can He ever be happy? BUT. He knows the ending. And He knows that in the end, His children will be okay. It will be fascinating when we get to the point that we can understand how Heavenly Father truly feels... I wish I could explain it better. Anyway.
We also got to go to the cliffs last Tuesday! I'll send pictures. It was BEAUTIFUL... and so much fun!
Merry Christmas everybody! In case you were wondering, we watch the DVD of David Archuleta's Christmas concert with the Tabernacle Choir multiple times every day at the Battalion, and we love every second of it every time!! Ha ha. We just let it play and play. :) Best season ever!! INVITE PEOPLE TO HEAR GOSPEL! This is the best time of the year to do it!
I love you!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy December!






Hey everybody!!
I'm overjoyed right now because I finally got my computer working! :)
We are emailing today at the family history center and I am on an
ANCIENT computer... all the good ones were taken. Ha. But it's
working! :D Just thought I'd share my excitement. Ha ha.
It was a wonderful week!  Guess why??

VINOD GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

This was my first baptism that I've seen all the way through! I was
there to teach him from the very beginning! So cool. :) He is the
sweetest little human I have ever met. He wants so badly to do the
right thing... He still doesn't understand a lick of the gospel. Ha
ha. But he knows enough. :) It's that such a fantastic concept?? Think
about it: children are baptized when they're 8 years old. The don't
comprehend anything about life!! But they know enough. :) Thank
heavens we don't have to have a perfect knowledge of the gospel to be
members of God's true church. We get to keep learning. Life would be
boring and pointless if there wasn't always more to learn.
The baptismal service went really well. We were a little scrambled to
pull it together, as always... baptisms are very stressful (in a good
way). :) Sister Miller and I sang the special musical number, "I need
thee every hour," accompanied by her ridiculous guitar skills. I was
so nervous... my voice was shaking so bad. Ha. But other than that,
and the fact that I messed up like 3 times... it sounded pretty good.
:P And the best part was that we had TWO of our other investigators
there to watch the baptism!! So key. It was awesome.
Vinod got up afterward... bless his heart. The way he talks in his
little Indian accent and grammar is so great. He just kept saying,
"Thanks for everyone, and thanks for the sisters, and thanks for..."
with everything. :) He was also confirmed in church on sunday and
prepared a little speech for testimony meeting that he had written
down on a piece of paper... he was so nervous. But he got up and said,
"Sister Miller and Madsen, I hope you like my speech, but if not it's
okay." Then he went off on how much we helped him to do the right
things and how we were so nice and had such great smiles. Ha ha I wish
I could have recorded it! Writing it out does't do it justice.
Anyway...Hooray!! Another soul came unto Christ this weekend!
We also had an amazing day at the temple this week. Everywhere we
turned was a golden contact! We left with FOUR referrals. We couldn't
believe it! And the funniest part was that we kept coming upon them AS we were trying to get out of there... we literally had all of our
stuff in our arms and were walking to our car when we walked past the
last lady we dared talk to cause we didn't want to be late for our
appointment... and within a few sentences that maybe took 45 seconds,
she gave us her information to have missionaries sent to her house.
She was so prepared! We left in absolute shock. It was ridiculous. :)
AND the best part of that shift was that the Christmas lights are
finally up at the temple! They're so pretty! I LOVE TEMPLE LIGHTS! I
love Christmas time! It's DECEMBER!! Best month of the year! Sister
Miller and I had a Christmas HAYDAY after we finished our nightly
planning on December first... we hung up our stockings and danced
around in our snowflake toe socks and drank hot chocolate with Tim Tam Slams (I thought grasshopper cookies were good... hope you're paying
attention, Eric and Blake) and watched Joy to the World!! I love my
life. :) We also got to watch the first presidency Christmas
Devotional on Sunday! One of my favorite Christmas traditions, and I
didn't have to miss it. :) Heavenly Father loves me.
I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. I read the section on
gratitude in True to the Faith, and it really hit me. It wasn't
anything profound... it was a simple message to be grateful, and see
what effects it has in your life. WELL. It's so true!! That's why
President Monsen is so happy, I decided... he's always talking about
gratitude. Let me give you an example from this week: we had a lesson
with one of our investigators, and at the very first of the
conversation we learned some sickening things about her sister, who
was in the hospital due to very unfortunate decisions she's made. And
then on top of that, our investigator herself was rushed to the
emergency room the night before because of some high-potency drugs she had consumed that she was unaware she was eating. :( People lead such sad, sad lives. 
Be grateful, everyone, that you have the gospel in your
lives, and look for ways to show your gratitude by sharing it with
others.
I love you all with all my heart. Thank you for your prayers in my
behalf. You are the reason I'm here! And your prayers are the reason I
have the strength to be a missionary. I just know it. :)
HAPPY DECEMBER!!!!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!







Welp. Hi again.
Hope you all had a great thanksgiving.... I sure did! It was one of
the best days of my mission! And it was special for more than one
reason. I had an amazing experience that day during personal study. I
was in 2 Nephi 4 and I was thinking a lot about the time I've spent on
my mission up til now (I know I always write about this)... so I
finally decided to pray right then and there and ask Heavenly Father
how I've been doing on my mission so far. I've just been so stressed
about the line between "not doing enough" and "stop stressing about
doing it perfectly." And it is AMAZING how much Heavenly Father is
aware of me... the last page of my personal study that day was from
Elder Ballard's "Our Search for Happiness" book.. not sure if I've
ever gotten a faster, more specific answer than I did just then. I
can't type the whole thing out... but let it suffice to say that every
word on that page directly related to the question I had just prayed
about. It was absolutely incredible. And I only realized how powerful
it was when I was explaining it to Sister Miller after the fact... So
we had a really great/emotional conversation. And I came to the
conclusion that I'm doing okay. :) I will always be grateful for that
experience.
Then we had Thanksgiving dinner at the Battalion! it's hard to miss
being home for the holidays when you have a second home that feels
just as special... and family--all my sisters and four set of adopted
"grandparents"--all around you. :) It was absolutely wonderful. And I
stuffed myself to the point that I felt sick, of course.
And to top it all off that day, Vinod came to meet us for a lesson at
the Battalion, and bless his heart, he brought us two beautiful gifts
for thanksgiving... they were glass vases in the shape of swans with a
rose in them. He is the darn cutest little human I have ever met. It
was so sweet. And he's doing great!! Baptism is reset! We're excited
for him.
So, I had a great Thanksgiving. I also had one of the hardest days
that I've ever had in my entire mission on Sunday. I can't even write
about all the things that added up to make it so. But we decided it
all happened because we had just had a great discussion in our
district meeting a couple days before about diligence... so that was
the attribute we wanted to work on together. Well. Praying for
diligence is like praying for patience. Everything goes wrong after
you do so... and overcoming those things is how you gain more. :P It
didn't help that we had just learned of the new mission goal for
December: 20 baptisms a week. (We've only been averaging 10.) And
THREE of our four solid investigators that we thought would contribute
to that goal basically crushed our hopes on Sunday. ALL IN THE SAME
DAY. :( It was awful. But life goes on, and I had a lot to learn from
that experience. It took a LOT to humble myself after I was in such a
terrible mood that day. I didn't even feel like praying, I was so
upset. But eventually I did. Boy am I grateful for forgiveness.
Heavenly Father still needs me to be a missionary, I guess, because He
lets me keep going even when I struggle.
I'm so grateful to be a missionary. :) I'm terrible at putting my
thoughts and feelings into words, so that's the best I can do. But I
love this opportunity, I love the people I get to spend my time with,
and I love my Heavenly Father.
Also, I love this season! I'm excited to see how it will soften
people's hearts... this time of year always does. :) Happy Holidays!!
Yay!!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Sunday, November 25, 2012

5 Month Mark!


Hi everybody!!
Holy SMOKES. Today is a monumental day for two reasons: one, it's the end of another transfer (WHAT??) and two, it's my five month mark!!! Where has my mission gone? It really gets me thinking about what I've done with my time thus far and how I need to be using it better. Every minute is precious.
The other GREAT news is: Sister Miller and I still get to stay together in Black Mountain Branch for another transfer!! We cannot even express how excited we were. We thought for SURE with four new sisters coming in and all the senior missionaries leaving, there was no way we were going to stay together... I was super sad, too, because I LOVE Sister Miller and she is a powerhouse missionary... I just haven't had enough time with her! She still feels like my "new" companion. And that was officially the fastest transfer of my life. Suffice it to say, we are overjoyed that we get to be in this amazing companionship in this incredible ward over the holidays... and ESPECIALLY that neither of us were transferred to be full-time proselyting missionaries, because we really want to be at the Battalion for Christmas. It's like our home, we can't imagine not being there during this time of year! :) We jumped and screamed and hugged for like 5 minutes when we found out. So it's been a great day full of good news.
We also went hiking today with our zone!! SO much fun... First time since I've been out. It felt SO good. I miss hiking! And yes, it was sunny and 75 degrees. :) Hiking in November... almost December!! YES. :)
We had some pretty incredible experiences this week. Here's some entries from my journal:
 
I just had a really awesome experience watching Sister Miller speak to our investigator as if the words were coming straight from God's mouth. Joshua is a boy we've been teaching who thinks he's good where he's at... the first time we met him, he told us he didn't care if he was going to hell. He's very unorthodox and slightly disrespectful when he talks about God. Well... we taught him the plan of salvation tonight, and after we finished explaining the whole thing... goodness, I can't even describe how it all happened. But in a very sincere, loving way, and with the spirit flowing right through her words, Sister Miller told him that even though he masks a lot of it, he really does care where he ends up, that he's just afraid of failure and that's why he thinks he's comfortable where he's at... and he's afraid of commitment. Then she pointed to the celestial kingdom and said "don't sell yourself short, Joshua." And it really hit him. He really sat and thought about it for a minute. And his prayer at the end was much more sincere and much less sarcastic than they usually are. In it, he expressed how Sister Miller saw right through him. ??? It was incredible! She was so in tune and said just the right things at just the right time. It was ridiculous.
Afterwards we were discussing about how it should be that way for every investigator. If we're doing our job right, we should be able to discern their needs and break them down. How do I make that happen??
 
And another:
 
I was not in a good mood today. Two of our appointments cancelled tonight, so we were driving around contacting, which is always difficult, and I was really struggling to get my heart in the right place. Yet Heavenly Father still manages to make use of me even when I"m being ridiculous. We ended up at a former investigator's house whose teaching record wasn't very promising... and after a 45 minute doorstep conversation, we re-added him as an investigator! I'm almost positive it was because of the mood Sister Miller and I were in, too... the way the conversation started was "tell us about you." We weren't in the mood to be chipper and convincing and fake... we were just REAL with him. It surprised him actually: he said, "I thought you guys were here to talk to me about Joseph Smith." We basically told him straight out that we were there for him... that he wasn't a lifeless object we were just there to preach to. Anyway. He miraculously said we could come back. Did I deserve that miracle tonight? Absolutely not. But I am so grateful for it... and grateful that Jesus Christ makes up for my weaknesses.
 
Vinod did not get baptized on Saturday. :( We're still working with him though... he still wants it, there's just a couple things he feels uncomfortable about still. So we're hoping within the next couple weeks he'll be ready.
Paige is amazing. She was so prepared, and the gospel is going to make such a difference for her! She is suffering a lot... and it's so obvious why we happened upon her at this time in her life. Pray that she continues to progress, and that nothing will get in the way of her being baptized.
I'm especially grateful this week (happy thanksgiving!) for:
1. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the change it makes in people's lives. 
2. People that love me and take care of me. I am SURROUNDED by them.
3. How much God loves me :)
I could make the list a billion times longer, but I'm out of time. I love you all! Keep giving to those around you! Giving is always more fulfilling than receiving. :)
Love,
Sister Madsen


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

it's feelin a little more like winter now...

Why hello again!
Guess what? I actually wore my COAT for the first time this week, and we just turned on our heater in our apartment for the first time last night! Crazy. I forgot what cold felt like. I mean, there's no snow like I've heard you have up there--the sun is still shining brightly down here--but I think it was funny how Heavenly Father noticed that I kept telling people how I missed my Utah weather... so He sent me the cold when I was unprepared for it. Haha. :)
Great stories of the week:
1. Angel, a fairly recent convert in our ward that we have been working with, is from Guatemala... and it took him quite a bit of trouble to get here. Well, he got in a car accident a few weeks ago... and he's not exactly... supposed to be in this country. So he had a court date this week and we were sooo scared they were going to take him away from us!! We've been meeting with him every week, and his poor heart has just gone through so much stress and his testimony was really weakening. I KNOW that Heavenly Father helped him get here because he needed the gospel... his conversion story is absolutely incredible. So we just kept trying to reassure him that no matter how it all ended up, his experience in the States gave him the opportunity to find the truth, and he could take it with him no matter where he went. But we didn't feel like we were getting through to him, and it was breaking our hearts because we love him sooo much! He is so sweet and so pure and just so great. All he wants is to find success so he can help his family. So the night before his court date, we got a little inspiration: it hadn't even occurred to us yet to ask him to receive a priesthood blessing! So we called our branch president at like 9 pm, and he made it happen. Still... when he left us that night we were so scared we might never see him again. :(
When we called him the next day, he didn't answer. :( Our hearts sank. But 20 minutes later he called us back!!! He told us everything was fine and he wasn't going anywhere!! :) Oh my word... I cannot tell you the relief I felt. It was such a miracle. I love Angel and I'm so grateful for how Heavenly Father has shown His hand in his life.
2. Paige!! We showed up at Paige's house for our second appointment this week... but when we called her to come out and meet us she said it wasn't a good time. :(    Again, our hearts sank. She still agreed to come out briefly and say hi though. So she did. Let me tell you about one of Sister Miller's hidden talents: she's really good at snaking people into lessons when they don't even realize it. :) Haha. So we ended up reading a few scriptures with her, and what we thought was going to be a really disappointing experience turned out to be exactly the opposite--Paige truly recognized how much she needed to talk with us that night and how much hope we had given her. :) In her prayer, she said she was so grateful to have met us, and she was really excited to come to church with Courtney (the member we had with us who happens to be her neighbor and who is now going to be her best friend. :) ) Sooo great!! She actually had to miss church on Sunday, but she is for sure coming next week and she went to FHE last night! 
3. Ba ha ha... Sister Miller and I were involved in possibly the most tragic musical number ever to happen at a church activity. :) We were singing "I need thee every hour" at a stake activity for middle-aged single adults that some other elders from our zone roped us into. (Sister Miller was playing the guitar along with us.) First of all we were singing with them, and they are both COMPLETELY tone deaf. :) AND, only like 8 people showed up to this activity that was supposed to be for like 50 people. So sad. So we had planned on singing the first verse together, the second verse just sisters, the third just elders, and the last all together again. (Oh, and we just eaten, so there was a whole bunch of junk in my throat and it sounded awful.) So we sang the first verse... then half way through the second verse, Sister Miller and I realized that we were repeating the words from the first verse again!! Ha ha ha. We just kept singing it anyway... then the elders... oh man. I'm going into way too much detail. Let it suffice to say that Sister Miller and I were laughing our heads off for the entire night after that. :) I'm just grateful for times to laugh. They make all the hard things about a mission a little less hard. Also, to redeem myself, I was a part of a double quartet for an a capella musical number at the mission president's fireside the next night with three of my battalion sisters, and it was POWERFUL. :) The spirit was so strong. I love music. (And all the senior couples who came to watch us said that out of all the musical numbers, ours was easily the best one... of course, they may have been a little biased. :) )
4. We went to meet a potential investigator (marine) on base with another member. But they were both boys, so of course we couldn't meet inside anywhere, and it was freezing.. so we decided to go wait at the McDonalds on base until he showed up. Well wouldn't you know it, we walked in, and sitting right there is one of our less-actives who hadn't been responding to us. :) Heavenly Father is soooo clever. On top of that, the potential never showed up... so we just taught a lesson to our less-active at McDonalds instead. Turns out he was the one we were actually supposed to be teaching that night. :) AND, because we found him, our member was able to convince him to go to the ward activity that night. Yay!!! God is so good.

If all goes well, Vinod should be getting baptized on saturday! I don't want to jynx it by writing this to you though.... so make sure you all pray REALLY hard that he makes it! I'm sorry that's all I have time for, but I love you with all my heart and I think about you often!
Love,
Sister Madsen



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Halloween!







Hi Everyone!
We had a pretty exciting week this week! First I have to tell you about all our halloween adventures. Here's my journal entry from that day:
WHAT a day. :) This has seriously been one of the most entertaining days of my entire mission! To celebrate halloween, Sister Miller and I had to do something festive, of course... so we dressed up as "twin sisters." We had black and white patterened tops with a black skirt, black shoes, and a white cradigan. Oh, and curly hair. It was so great. But the best part is what happened to us while we were wearing our lovely twin sister oufits: we had just finished up in our area and were trying to get to our temple shift when we got stuck in a dead-stop traffic jam. We were sittting in the middle of Mira Mesa Boulevard for an HOUR! Biggest waste of missionary time ever. Ha. So we're hanging out in the car, just idling away, when all the sudeen the car started shaking... we had no idea what was happening to our car until is suddenly died, and we realized with horror that we had run out of gas!! AH! And then, of course, the light turned green and everyone was honking at me... we were in the MIDDLE lane, too, with nowhere to go. So two ridiculously-dressed matching missionaries got out of the car and pushed our poor little corolla out of the road, trying not to get run over as we laughed our guts out at how funny of a scene this must have been to all the cars around us. Did anyone get out and help these poor girls in skirts? No. :)
So we pulled it into the parking lot of the apartment complex right next to the street... then we hit a slight downhill in the driveway, so we were all of a sudden running alongside the car as I tried to steer through the driver's side window. Sister Miller started screaming at me to get in and brake before we ran right into the big cement apartment sign straight ahead. I got in just in time! Ha ha it was almost disasterous, but SO FUNNY!
To top it all off, the apartments we happened to pull into was the home of one of our ward members. So we called her and her boyfriend to come rescue us, but Batman and Robin showed up to save the day instead. (That's what they were dressed as for Halloween.) They went to the gas station for us and bought a gas can and everything! SO nice. We were so grateful for them.
Needless to say, we didn't make it to our temple shift. In fact, we were late for our 7 pm halloween-night-missionary-curfew. Oops! But this is why serving at the battalion is the best mission assignment ever: while other missionaries just have to spend their halloween night locked away in their apartment, battalion sisters get to have parties! :) The Rockwells (one of our senior couples) threw us a party at the battalion tonight! We bobbed for apples (which was hilarious... even our directors the Seegmillers soaked their heads), ate doughnuts on a string (scripture mastery version of course), and stuffed ourselves with all kinds of treats. It was a blast. I am so lucky to be serving here!
Ha ha. It was great. I think I'm getting worse and worse at driving... I never even glanced at the gas light that I'm sure had been on for like an hour. Stupid of me. :)
It has also been another miracle week. Of course, every week is a miracle week, but I'm amazed every time. I'd just like you all to know that since we fasted to find people to teach last Sunday, our teaching pool has jumped from 3 investigators to about 10 new/potential investigators. Crazy!! And so exciting.
Cody is one of them. The elders from our zone referred us to him... they had kind of a funny run with him buying cigarettes. So we showed up at his house on Saturday for the third time and he was finally home. That house is insane--there's a good 7 or 8 teen/young adult men living there who are all druggies. Slightly scary. Cody came out of the house to "protect" us from them all, in a way... he didn't want us going in there, not that we would have anyway. Two of them followed him out, though, so we were talking to all three of them. When we asked Joey, "Do you have a religious background or did you grow up going to church at all?" His response was, "No, I'm a meth addict." He left after that. Super interesting. Anyway... we gave a watered-down version of the restoration to Cody (he actually was decently responsive) and gave him a Book of Mormon. We also invited him to church the next day. He said he would come, but I kind of got the feeling that he was just trying to get us off his sidewalk. My hopes weren't too high.
So we're sitting in church the next day, waiting on the back row for the few investigators we had invited. By the time the sacrament started, none of them had shown up. I was slightly discouraged. Then, after the sacrament, our ward mission leader came and sat by us to figure out something for the second hour. After he finished talking, he said, "oh, and by the way, who's that kid in the T-shirt up there?" At first I didn't recognize who he was pointing to since I could only see the back of his head... then it hit me like a load of bricks that Cody had kept his word and came to church! He had gotten there way before us and was sitting in like the third row in the middle of the congregation!   ???? :D :D We were shocked. Not gonna lie, it was difficult to be reverent and contain our excitement. Good thing we were sitting in the back row. :)
We also added a girl named Paige. We had talked to her two weeks earlier when we contacted into her, but when we went back to her house last week her mom wasn't very inviting and told us she wasn't home. So we thought we'd try again on Sunday... her dad opened the door and when we asked for Paige, her mom yelled to us from the kitchen that she wan't home again. But then Paige walked right out! Despite her mom, she said we could talk to her outside on the bench. :) She was so sweet and so nice!! She told us she was curious about what Mormons believed, so we answered a lot of the questions about rumors she'd heard and taught her the restoration. And she said we could come back this Friday! The craziest miracle of this whole encounter, though, was this: we hadn't planned on going to see Paige that day. We had planned on visiting the houses of some former investigators, but when we got in the car, we realized with a sinking feeling that we had left all their addresses at home. So we had no way to look them up or get anywhere. So we resorted to the only places I could remember how to get to without directions... and the first one was Paige's house. I definitely believe it was divine intervention that we forgot to bring our address book that day. :) Cool, huh?
So it's been a good week. :) The scary thing is, it's been almost too good... Sister Miller and I are worried that with the new Mormon Battalion rotation that's going to be in effect relatively soon, and with all the people that are popping out of the woodwork for us to teach, we might be transferred as full-time proselyting missionaries! GAH! I don't know how to serve a mission as a non-Battalion Sister. It will be crazy. But we'll see.
Wish I could tell you each and every cool story that happened this week... but I had to pick and choose cause I'm out of time! I love you all so much. And I love God's children. I'm starting to feel like a mom in a sense... like all the people I teach are those I have to take under my wing and make sure they're cared for, spiritually. It's a pretty indescribable feeling. :)
I LOVE MY MISSION!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fasting Works!

Hi again. :)
Gonna be short and sweet one this week--we went to the temple today so we're a little short on time. :) The temple is amazing! We finally reached the 3 month mark since we last went, so I got to go for my second time today. There was a huge group of us that went, actually, 8 sisters from the battalion and a good 10 or 15 elders from my district/zone that went too. :) It was a cool experience to be there all together. Every time I go to the temple, I realize how much I still have to learn in this life and the next. It's exciting that there's always so much more to learn and figure out... life would get boring if there wasn't!
We went on exchanges this week. Exchanges are a little tricky 'cause you're with someone you don't know as well and you have to figure out how to teach together, but they almost ALWAYS bring about miracles. First of all, you get to learn from someone you've never learned from before. :) Sister O'Neill is so natural at sharing the gospel. Talking to people doesn't make her nervous. She just talks to them like she's already known them for years, and is super real with them. So amazing! So I learned a lot from her. The other miracles that happened--all in the same day--were these: 1. Raj, who had disappeared from off the face of the planet (as in her phone was disconnected and the people she was living with informed us that she moved away and had zero information as to where), called US out of nowhere. We had given her our number on a little piece of paper, so when she got a new phone, she hadn't lost it with her old one, thank heavens. She told us she wanted to come to church that Sunday, which she did. :) So we're going to start teaching her again this week. 2. The Elders gave us a referral of a boy who had read over 60 pages of the Book of Mormon already and wanted to learn more. 3. Todd, a recent convert who totally strayed away right after his baptism and is really difficult to get a hold of, was at the church being home taught when we showed up. AND he said we could meet with him. AND he came to church on Sunday. :) In addition, we got to spend most of that day at the temple, which is always the best place to teach people about the gospel... we had an awesome conversation there with someone for like hour and a half! Exchanges are inspired! 
Fasting is also inspired. Sister Miller and I were feeling slightly down this week because we didn't teach very many lessons... we're running low on people to teach. Sister Miller, especially, was discouraged because she felt she wasn't doing all she could do... which kinda bummed me out in turn. So she came up with the idea that we needed to fast on Sunday (even though next week is fast Sunday so we'd be fasting two weeks in a row). We fasted to find more people to teach. Well, wouldn'tcha know it, we added two new investigators that day. :) AND Raj came back, AND a member brought a friend (Jesus Sanchez) to church on Sunday who said we could meet with him and teach him more. So by the end of this week, we will potentially have FOUR new investigators. :) Not sure how solid they will all be as of yet, but we are very blessed either way. Heavenly Father listens to the prayers of His missionaries!
Sunday was a special day for another reason, as well: we had a missionary Sunday. :) They have those every 3 or 4 months or so. The first hour is all about the restoration, the second hour is all about the plan of salvation, and the third hour is a lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ--the first three lessons in Preach My Gospel. And Sister Miller and I spoke on the Restoration in sacrament meeting! I felt kind of silly up there--funny how I've taught the restoration more than anything else on my mission and talked about it an average of ten times a day, yet when I'm standing in front of a crowd of people, I feel completely incapable of explaining it. :P But it was really good for both Raj and Sanchez to be there!! Vinod came too. :) (We're still working on him... please pray for him to gain a spiritual witness of what he needs to do.)
There were a lot of other good things and lessons I learned this week but I'm out of time! Wish I could write more! I love you all and hope you have a great Halloween. :)
Love,
Sister Madsen

Sunday, October 28, 2012

i'm officially a rule breaker...

Why hello again. :)

So. I'd just like you all to know that I earned my stripes as a rebellious missionary. :) The other day we went to visit an investigator but we thought we'd try to catch him at his work before we went to his house. (In case you all were wondering, missionaries are probably the most well-trained trackers in the entire world... we know all the best ways of finding and contacting people when they didn't intend to be found. I have a very promising future as a professional stalker.) So we show up at this Jamba Juice where he worked which was probably 10 minutes west of his house... only when we pulled into the parking lot did it occur to me that we might have left our area to track him down--which is DEFINITELY not allowed. So I texted the zone leaders and asked them where the boundary was just to be safe. The conversation went something like this:

"Um... how far west is our area boundary?"
"Where are you?"
"Jamba Juice out by Mario's house..."
"If you are where we think you are, you left the MISSION boundary. Come back NOW."

Whoops. :) We had them show us on the map what the mission boundary was, and not only had I left it to go to Jamba Juice, me and my last companion had left it like 3 or 4 times to use a certain route to get to the area. And she's been out 14 months!! Haha. Leaving the mission boundary is the kind of thing you get sent home for!! Luckily it was just an innocent mistake, but we definitely won't be taking that route again... wouldn't want to have a crazy car-accident story like Dad, right?? :)

It is crazy how far obedience goes. Sister Miller has taught me how good it is to look for excuses to be more obedient, because then we get more blessings! The most recent thing we have been trying to be more obedient in is talking to  EVERYONE we see and asking for referrals from EVERYONE. Even if we just talk to them on the street for a second. Regardless of whether we receive any referrals at all, or if we receive referrals for people that do not live in our area or don't belong to our ward, the Lord will give us people to teach--most often from indirect sources, simply because we're being obedient by asking everyone. (Don't know if that made sense.) I've done more street contacting in the last two weeks than I've done my entire mission thus far! And on Sunday Heavenly Father placed two girls in our path that we hopefully will add as investigators soon. :) Blessings, blessings, blessings! Commandments are excuses for more blessings!! But holy cow. I am TERRIBLE at contacting. My companion pretty much does all the talking... I need a lot more practice. Haha. So it's good for me!

Vinod is doing pretty good! He's pretty much the only investigator we have right now that's making real progress. He's finally starting to understand, I think, the gravity of a baptismal covenant. (He's got a Hindu background, so his understanding is a little different.) We are still working hard to help him grasp what it means to be part of this church, and especially to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I can't wait til he gets his answer from Heavenly Father! I know it has to come soon! I'll keep you posted. :)

Fun story of the week: A man proposed to his girlfriend at the battalion a couple days ago, and on MY tour! :) We set it up beforehand: we dressed him up as a soldier in the outfitting room, so the ring was hidden in the haversack. When we put the haversack on his shoulder, we told him to show everyone what kind of rations he had inside... when he pulled the ring out, it took the girl a minute to grasp what was going on. Then she starting crying, of course, and he got on one knee right there on our creaky wood floor of our army supply cabin... she said yes. :) It was fun. My heart was pounding the whole time though cause I was so nervous for him!! And I wasn't even the one proposing! Haha. :)

Love you all! The gospel is true and it is AMAZING!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

yes, it's STILL 85 degrees... but it finally rained once!

Hi all!
I've decided that Heavenly Father definitely knows when it's time for a change... Transfers were last Wednesday! I lost my wonderful Sister Ortez. :( I will miss her lots and lots. But I still get to see her around at the Battalion, so thank heavens for that. AND, I am still in my lovely, amazing, FANTASTIC Black Mountain Branch. :) I love my branch so much. But the best news is that I'm companions with Sister MILLER!!

THERE ARE NOT WORDS TO DESCRIBE HOW INCREDIBLE THIS MISSIONARY IS.

She is everything I want to be and more. And she has gotten me excited about being a missionary again! Sometimes we just need refreshers, I think. :) Because of her, I have seen so many miracles in this past week. She expects miracles. She has so much faith. She is confident in her ability to serve and confident that the Lord will bless us with people put in our path that need to hear the gospel so long as we are strictly obedient. And she's just happy and loving and fun and enjoys life, which makes ME enjoy it more too. The funny part is that Sister Miller and I came out the same day... we were in the MTC together and everything! But she is DEFINITELY a lot farther down the "successful missionary" road than I am. Ha. :P I cannot count the times that I have already thanked my Heavenly Father with all sincerity of heart for Sister Miller! I love her so much! And I'm really trying to capitalize on this positive, selfless energy she's got me going on. I am learning SO MUCH from her and I really need to put it into practice and make it habit before I slip back into the plateau I felt like I had hit.

Let me give you an example: It is amazing what the tiniest grain of faith can do. Sister Miller and I had an hour planned in our area the other night to go contact former investigators because we didn't have any appointment. For the first months of my mission, this tended to be kind of a fruitless task for us. But Sister Miller had just the opposite experience with contacting. She calls it unplanned miracle time. :) She basically told me how she KNEW that there would always be people placed in our path that we needed to talk to on visits like these, even if it wasn't the former investigator we planned on seeing--we just had to talk to everyone. That's what sparked my desire to really believe, like she did, that there were miracles awaiting us. RIGHT THEN. So... that tiny like spark inspired a simple prayer of faith that I offered right before we left the apartment. Believe it or not, having faith is something I still struggle with! Yet when I do have miracle experiences that come about because I exercise the smallest particle of faith, I don't continue to look for them, or to have more! It's like I subconsciously restrict myself to one rare miracle here and there. WHY?? I don't know. I'm silly.
Well... that little prayer of faith actually worked. We were at an apartment complex trying to find the right unit, and a lady was looking through her window at us, so we asked her for help... we ended up explaining who we were, of course... and she kept listening. She didn't just walk away. It was so unexpected. So we started telling her more about what we believe. And she invited us into her house! We basically taught her and her 19 year old daughter the restoration, and she said we could come back! She was so nice and so fun to talk to ... she has a little sassy spunk in her. Her name is Mari, and her daughter's name is Cynthia. :) It was amazing! I couldn't believe it. Heavenly Father rewarded me for the smallest bit of TRUST I put forth. It just goes to show that He really does intend to use me while I'm out here if I'll only believe that He will... regardless of my immeasurable weaknesses and imperfections.
So the theme of the week has been "help thou my unbelief." I don't want my lack of faith to limit the people I teach any more! But like I said, the problem is this: I learn a lot of lessons without internalizing them. Wouldn't it be nice if every time we learned something new about how to progress in the gospel we could just be perfect at it right then?? :) Also, I think a lot of this is having faith in myself. I just need confidence that I actually have a lot more to offer than just teaching lessons and hoping things work out for the best... and that I can play more than just the supporting role. That's what I feel like I've been most of the time that I've been out here. I want to change that, slowly but surely. :)
Other miracles of the week: 
1. Mario FINALLY came to church on Sunday! We think he liked it, too. He even participated in Sunday School! I overheard him talking to another member about coming next week, as well! So exciting. SO HAPPY HE CAME!
2. Micheal Jensen, a less-active we've been trying to contact for months, came to church too! We stopped by his house on Saturday and he happened to be on his porch. Coincidence? Nope! Coincidence that I thought of going to his house right then? Nope! So we invited him to church the next day and he actually came! Holy smokes... that faith thing... blows my mind.
3. Jared Walker (less active) AND Vinod both ended up going to the branch service project on Saturday! AND Vinod went to church at a different sacrament meeting with another member of our branch since he couldn't come to ours because it was too late in the day!
4. Bill passed the sacrament! He bought a suit and everything! The change in that kid is absolutely incredible. The gospel truly does bring happiness! It's so apparent in him.
5. This sweet deaf girl (member) came into the battalion a couple days ago. I gave her a tour in ASL and found out she needed a lot of help... she was in a pretty rough situation. So I got her in contact with the deaf ward bishop afterward and did everything I could to help. She ended up calling him and he took her to church. Yesterday, she wheeled herself all the way back (she's wheel chair bound) just to tell me thank you! It took her hours to get here! It was so incredibly sweet of her, it broke my heart.
6. It finally RAINED for once! I love rainy days! It just made my heart so happy. Rain is so different here... is super light. But great. :) Don't worry though, we're back to 85 degree weather. :P I miss my seasons.

So many tender mercies this week! I am so blessed! Being on a mission is the best... sometimes I wonder how I ever let myself think otherwise! :)
I love you!
Sister Madsen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

General Conference Happiness!

Hi everybody!!!
I CANNOT, cannot even tell you how much I was FREAKING OUT about the announcement at General Conference!!!!!!! Holy smokes! That is all everyone has been talking about around here, of course. :) We have analyzed every inch of the change that's going to happen and the possibilities. Soooo exciting!! There are going to be SO many more sisters serving now. :) :) :) Watch out, elders, you're not going to outnumber us before long!!
Conference was amazing. I've never experienced conference the way I did while I've been on my mission. It was incredible how I could apply every single talk to my current situation/concerns. There is definitely something to be said for inspiration--no two people "hear" the same talk. I was writing notes like crazy. :) I think my favorite two talks, though, were President Uchtdorf's and President Eyring's. I love the concept of looking back on life with no regrets--and in this case, looking back on my mission. I definitely want to be able to say, after I get home, that I truly loved those around me, that became the person I wanted to be, and that I was happy! It definitely made me think about what I need to change to make that happen. And President Eyring's talk about the pavillion that covereth His hiding place... that we create it ourselves... definitely something I needed to hear. I am so incredibly grateful for inspired leaders!  I LOVE CONFERENCE! The only sad thing is that every battalion sister had to be on shift for at least one session... :( So I missed the Sunday afternoon session. I'm going to have to go back and watch it. But, on the positive side, I got to watch the Saturday afternoon session at a member's home with a whole bunch of people I love. :) It felt just like home. Heavenly Father loves me.
TRANSFERS ARE TOMORROW!! Ahh!! I am officially "trained"!! So crazy. I found out already that Sister Ortez is no longer going to be my companion. Sad day. :( She is being transferred out of the area and training a new sister. It will be so hard to be in my area without her!! I'm really afraid that I won't be able to get to the people we've been teaching if she leaves. I'll miss her so much. I know it's going to be a challenge for me to be the experienced one in my area, but I also know that it will help me grow TONS. Another great thing is that I've narrowed it down to 3 possibilities of who my new companion could be... and all three are sisters I came out with and grew super close to in the MTC!! :) So I'm super excited to see who it will be.
Fun stories of the week:
1. I got to play PING PONG last Tuesday!! We played a super fun version of around-the-world where you toss the paddles. It was crazy awesome. And don't worry, I CREAMED the Elder I played against. :)
2. I got to play ultimate frisbee today!! Heavenly Father is blessing me with all the great things I LOVE to do lately. :)
3. One day, I was walking back to our apartment from the battalion with another sister named Sister Mendez. As were walking into the apartment and down the hallway, she was going on about something and I was just looking down at the ground... and suddenly she let out the most horrific, blood-curdling scream I have EVER heard in my life. My heart literally stopped. I have never felt more adrenaline shoot through my body than I did right then! I could have sworn someone was running at her with a chainsaw or something... but no, turns out it was just a silly little bird that had flown into the hallway and scared her! Oh man. It was so funny. I'll never forget it.
4. While we were on shift at the temple, we went to get something to eat at the cafeteria. After we were done eating, a lady came up to us and asked if we wouldn't mind sparing a little time to help out in the kitchen--it was a friday night and the poor girl on shift was all by herself trying to serve/ring up a whole line of people. So I got to do some service inside the temple! :) I wish we could have gotten a picture of ourselves in our huge white kitchen coats that totally drowned us. It was great.
Miracle story of the week:
I don't know if you all remember an Indian girl that I talked about named Raj. But we invited her to be baptized the day we met her. She was super excited, but her parents were not. So she has been completely avoiding us ever since she talked to them about it. We had been trying and trying for weeks to get her to meet with us again... and one day we called her phone and it said it was no longer in service. So we thought we'd just show up at her house since we had the excuse of "your phone isn't working." :) And she was there! She is such a sweet girl... she pretty much confessed that she had been distancing herself from us and all of the branch members because she felt sooo bad about telling us she couldn't be baptized. So it was great that we had the chance to tell her we weren't in any way offended, that we still loved her to death and that we just wanted to keep seeing her every so often. :) Hopefully we'll see more of her now.

I love you all so much and I hope that conference was a great dose of spiritual medicine for each of you like it was for me! Thanks for all the prayers you send my way!
Love,
Sister Madsen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

mckenzie.madsen@myldsmail.net



Dear loved ones,

How is everybody doing? Guess what I found out that I have been misunderstanding this whole time? Anyone and everyone is allowed to email me. :) I'm just not allowed to email back. So for those of you who would rather email than send letters, or find it more convenient: mckenzie.madsen@myldsmail.net :) I'd love to hear from ALL of you!!

BILL MURRAY (yes, that's really his name) IS BAPTIZED!! :D On Wednesday he had his interview, and he passed. I never thought I'd see the day... in case I didn't mention this before, he was originally RLDS. AND, he did so, SO good at keeping the word of wisdom. I am very pleasantly surprised with the changes he's made and the commitment he's shown. His baptism on Saturday was literally the funniest baptism I have ever been to. Everything went wrong. Okay, not wrong... just a little abnormal. :) First, our whole ward had been at a camping trip the night before, so our ward mission leader was scrambling to get everything together super last minute... and we were so grateful for the few members of our ward who sacrificed a little time on the camping trip to make it to the baptism! (We should have planned that better. Oops.) So the program started, and Courtney, who was supposed to be part of the musical number, wasn't even there yet--she texted us right as it was starting and said she had just gotten off of work and was on her way. That meant we had to stall til she showed up... but we were starting 10 minutes late as it was. So we whispered to Mike, who we had asked just to bear a simple testimony, to talk until she got there. He didn't have anything prepared. So he just whipped something out about the baptism of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry, and looked out the window every now and then, waiting for her to show up... :) and right when he said "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen," Courtney walked in the door and walked straight up the front of the room to start singing. It was super funny. And THEN, half way through the musical number, someone whispered in our ear that the font was draining! We rushed out of the room--I felt SO bad--and ran to the font. It was still plugged but for some reason the water was super low! So Bill was baptized on his knees!! But that wasn't even the best part... As the cherry on top, Bill was TRIPLE dunked before it was done all the way right. :) Ha ha. It was great. The moral of the story is that it was a very memorable baptism, and regardless of everything that happened, the Spirit was still very present, and another child of God has entered into his first covenant to gain eternal life. :) He was also confirmed and received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday, and all went well with that too. Hooray!!

The other miracle that happened on Sunday was that one of our less actives who we have been working with FOREVER, Halden, was finally cleared to pass the sacrament!!  He even passed the sacrament to our row, so it was extra special. :) I am soooo happy for him!! It took him a lot of effort to quit smoking. He went for a couple weeks without it and then gave in again... :( and then this last week we tried the church's program for quitting, and it finally worked! I really think it will be for good this time. I love that kid with all my heart, I was SO proud that he got to pass!!

I also had kind of a cool experience teaching a lesson last Tuesday night. We were teaching Jonmikel, another less active, and he's been... slipping a little lately. It's really sad because for weeks he was doing sooo good. But he took a trip home for a week, and that didn't help... he's also been thinking about his dad a lot recently because it's his birthday month (his dad passed away a couple years ago). So he's pretty down and went drinking last weekend. :( He wasn't being very responsive to us as we were teaching him, and I hated seeing him so shut off and sad... I was trying so hard to discern his needs and get him to open up. As we were talking about his dad, who wasn't a member of the church and never liked religion, an idea suddenly popped in my head: he should pray to know whether his dad has accepted the gospel on the other side of the veil. I really don't think that thought came from me, and I got really excited about it. :) Even though it didn't lead to some awesome spiritual experience during the lesson, it was just cool to feel like I received inspiration from out of nowhere. And Jonmikel said he'd try it.. so we'll see what comes of it. I hope he really will.

I got to watch the Relief Society broadcast on Saturday, too. :) AND... I interpreted the first ten minutes of it for a couple deaf women that were there! They were having trouble getting captions going at first... so even though I really didn't want to because I am SO incredibly rusty, I knew Heavenly Father wouldn't be very happy with me if I didn't use what little ability I have to help someone in time of need. Have I mentioned that I love ASL?

Shout out to Danny and Jessica: your friends whose house you worked on, Mike and Marci I think were their names, came into the battalion this week! :) They said, "You don't happen to know someone named Danny Madsen who lives in South Provo and owns his own AC business, do you?" And I said, "Why, yes, that's my amazing uncle!!" :) They think you're great. I think you're great too. :)

Welp. I'm out of time. Love, love, love you all!!
Sister Madsen