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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swimming Along... :)

Why hello. :)

So, as if missionary time isn't warped enough... I feel like my concept of time is getting even more twisted because there's no change of season down here! (Okay... there's a slight one. But not enough to make me feel like time is going on as normal. :P) For all of you Utahns up there enjoying the fall colors, LOVE it while you have it! But hey, at least there's one thing that fall brings no matter where you are in the world... I am SO EXCITED for General Conference!! I think it's going to mean more than it ever has to me while I'm on my mission... just like the gospel means more now than it ever has in the past. ;) I LOVE OUR PROPHET AND APOSTLES. I hope you all are getting ready for it, too. We are so lucky to have such inspired men to help us out in this crazy, demanding world!

Don't have much to report on this week... there were three whole days this week that we taught absolutely ZERO lessons. :( Of course, half of our day is at the Battalion, but I'm not used to that! Our branch is so amazing that we always have lessons to teach. I haven't had a taste of the "knockin on doors with no luck" very much yet, which I'm really grateful for. (Not that we tract, anyway, but we do go to houses of former investigators when we don't have lessons to fill our time... it's very draining and not all that fruitful.) I guess it's good for me to get a taste of though. My mission is just a well-oiled machine so I'm not accustomed to all that... I'm very spoiled. ;)

Bill is doing GREAT though! He is preparing for baptism this Saturday and has gone almost 4 days without smoking!! Yay! Whatever clicked in his mind and heart has brought about a big change in his commitment. When I sat by him in Sunday school this week, he seemed to be more cheery and friendly, and I realized how much I really love that kid now! It's amazing how much you grow to love the people you serve... Heavenly Father really lets you have a taste of the joy he feels when someone he cares about comes closer to Him. Bill still has Satan working really hard on him though, so pray for him to make it this week!

Lesson of the week: Line upon line, precept upon precept. (Weird... I feel like this is a lesson I have "learned" before... funny how we have to keep learning these things over and over again, right? ;) ) As much as I have grown up in the church and supposedly should have a lot of gospel knowledge because of that, I feel super unintelligent lately!! Haha. :) I feel like there's just so much to learn still. I want to read everything--the whole missionary library, the Ensigns, the whole Bible, etc--and know everything all at once!! AND, us Battalion sisters only get HALF the personal study time as normal missionaries. :( But I am trying to learn to be happy with what gospel knowledge I'm gaining, slowly but surely. 

That's about it for this week! Hope life is going GREAT for all of you. :) I miss you and pray for you.
Sister Madsen

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

3 Month Mark

Hola. :)
I'd like you all to know I'm going to be famous. :) Yesterday a film crew came in to make a commercial about Old Town.... which includes the Mormon Battalion of course! I am the star of the outfitting room (one of the rooms on our tour). Ha. :) So if between October and February you can somehow figure out a way to channel into the local San Diego TV station, you'll see me there making a fool of myself on television. :)
Heavenly Father blessed us LOTS with our investigators this week! :) Vinod is doing great! He accepted a baptism date! However, we'll still trying to get him to understand that church isn't something we do just for fun and that we're different than every other church... and that baptism is a life-long commitment, not something we do just to "check out" the religion. But he's starting to feel something... whenever he comes to FHE or has lessons with us, he says he "feels good"... as well as when he prays. He's having subtle spiritual experiences, we just need to help him recognize what they mean. :) He's such a great kid though! I love it when he prays... "in the name of the Jesus... amen." He called Jesus, "the Jesus Christ." It's great.
We also added two new investigators this week! One is Raj, who is also from India. She came here just over a year ago and since then has gained the strongest testimony of God and Jesus Christ... and she was originally Hindu! She has gone through so much trying to establish herself in America, and the way she talks about God and Jesus... we were in shock. And when we told her she needed to read the Book of Mormon and follow the first principles/ordinances of the gospel she didn't even hesitate. She was all for it. :) So she accepted a date the first night we met her!! So prepared!! Unfortunately though, she told her parents back in India... and they weren't very happy. :( :( Stupid Satan. So she's not exactly planning on it anymore... but we're going to keep trying, so please please please pray for Raj, and for her parents' hearts to be softened. And the other investigator we added is Shekema. She's only 18, which is a hard age sometimes, but she seems relatively promising... like she's got a good head on her shoulders. So hopefully she'll keep our appointments. :) We're going to see her again tomorrow.
Oh! And biggest miracle of the week! I almost forgot! We have an investigator that we have been on the verge of dropping for a couple weeks now... we haven't been putting much effort into him anymore cause he's been so unresponsive. But for some reason he actually came to the Battalion when we invited him. He was with one of his member friends. After they left they had like a 4 hour conversation... and later that night we got a text that said, "Okay, Tucker convinced me. I want him to be the one to baptize me though." ???? It was SO out of the blue!!! :) :) So we're super excited for him... now we just need to get him living the commandments, which might be a little tricky, but we'll work it out. :) I can't even tell you how random and unexpected that was, but hey, guess the Lord knew he was ready even though we had no idea.
Here's a snippet (that's a word, right? :) ) from my journal this week about an awesome experience I had: "A couple came into the battalion tonight and I took them on a tour... the lady was from England and didn't seem super intrigued by the religious aspects (although she was super smiley and nice). So I prayed for help with a skill I have been really struggling with: the ability to initiate a natural, genuine conversation with visitors and THEN tying in the gospel as prompted by the spirit. And it worked! Of course, it helped that they were talkative people and had a lot of questions. :) But I didn't feel nervous or awkward the whole time I was talking to them, and I really felt the spirit throughout the conversation--we talked a lot about the church and the Book of Mormon, and even though they didn't refer, they were willing to read it. I KNOW I planted a really good seed, and after they left I just felt like that was what was supposed to happen with that couple, and Heavenly Father was proud of me. :) It felt so good!" Now if only I could remember that experience and apply it every time I talk to visitors at the battalion, I'd be in good shape... ;)
I love you all!! I know I say that every week but it's true!! :) Keep strengthening your testimony! I know that what I'm trying to do with mine... I feel like it's never strong enough. But hey that's what life's about... we HAVE to keep building our testimonies til the day we die! And someday they'll be perfect. :)
Sister Madsen

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith & Softball :)

Hi everybody. It's me again. :)
More great miracles have happened this week, as always. Vinod and Mario are doing pretty good! We had a lesson with Mario last Wednesday night that went really well... and if things keep going well he said he'll be baptized on October 13th! He accepted a date! I was pretty nervous to ask him to be baptized, so Heavenly Father sure helped me out on that one. (SOOOO intimidating.) :) And THEN he came to sports night that night and played soccer with the branch! Hooray! He's made a few friends now, or at least has some acquaintances in the branch. Now we just have to find time to keep teaching him... he just got a new job and works everyday, so he's been turning us down quite a bit. :( Pray that we can find time in both of our hectic schedules to teach him.
Vinod also has a crazy schedule... he is taking 18 credits at two different colleges AND working part time. So we've a hard time scheduling teaching visits with him, too. But he came to FHE last night! He seemed to like it and opened up when people started conversations with him. :) We're going to see him again this Thursday, as well. He has zero Christian background whatsoever cause he's from India... So we are starting from square one, which is a little harder! But if he is ready for the gospel I know things will work out.
Lesson of the week: POSITIVE ATTITUDE=FAITH. There were two days in a row this week where Heavenly Father totally blessed me just for trying to look on the bright side. One of the days we were on exchanges... in MY area! I was leading out all by myself! AND, unlike the last exchange I had, my companion was Sister Pagel, who just got here two weeks ago! All morning while we were at our temple shift I was stressing over our plans for the night because no one was responding to my texts/calls. On top of that, I was struggling with talking to people on the temple grounds... I feel super awkward and incapable when I'm trying to testify/discern the needs of the visitors without my companion! One German couple in particular were completely unresponsive to me and I left the conversation feeling very discouraged. But I was the senior companion for the day, so I felt extra-obligated to put on a cheery face and force myself to think optimistic thoughts. So I tried my very best. Then, all of the sudden, we got a phone call from an extremely less-active who we have been trying to visit for weeks and he said we could meet with him that night! Everything started looking up from there, and over the course of the night, Heavenly Father continued to bless us with people to fill our whole time with. It suddenly clicked for me that having a positive attitude means having faith. For some reason I had never linked the two together before. (It sounds a lot more simple in this email than the way it clicked in my head... to me it was like this monumental discovery! Wish I could explain it better. :P)
Last fun things:
1. RACHEL JOHNSON CAME INTO THE BATTALION! :D :D :D soooo good to see her.
2. I GOT TO PLAY SOFTBALL TODAY!!!! Like legit softball, with real gloves and real bats and a real ball and 7 players on each team (all from my zone) on a real red-dirt field. :D :D Heavenly Father LOVES me.

Love you all! Keep the gospel rolling forth! And watch Elder Holland's CES fireside if you get the chance, it was INCREDIBLE.
Sister Madsen

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pics with Jihye & Lily

Hi everybody. :)
Aren't Sundays just the best day ever?? Heavenly Father blessed us lots this Sunday: we had SIX less-actives--Chrissy, Robbie, Blase, Angel, Josh, and Jared--show up to church this week! We have been working with/meeting with all these people for quite a while, and it was so rewarding to see them all there this Sunday! Robbie and Blase even stayed for the whole 3 hours! :) AND, on top of that, one of our investigators, Vinod, came to church, and he stayed for all 3 hours as well! (Of course, we're still trying to figure out his intentions and gain an understanding of what he thinks we do all this for. ;) But we were so happy to have him there nonetheless!) It is so fulfilling to see our efforts blessed and to watch others make their way back to Christ, even though it takes one slow step at a time.
Lily was also confirmed this Sunday! She couldn't be confirmed the day after her baptism because it was stake conference, so she had to wait a week... We were a little worried about that, but we had no reason to worry whatsoever. Her confirmation was so good! She's officially a member! Of course, she was practically a member already... we even drove her to an appointment once because it seemed so natural that we didn't even realize we were breaking the rules (we are allowed to drive members but not investigators). :P So that was probably the best day at church that I've had since I got here. I was very happy. :)
Funny story about Vinod though... we showed up to his house for an appointment on Friday and something weird happened... Another man answered the door and told us he had no idea who we were looking for. The name "Vinod" was completely unfamiliar to him. He said he'd been living there for a year and the guy we were looking for must have moved a while ago... But we had just been there teaching him in that very apartment 5 days earlier! And then the man left because he was literally on his way out the door to catch a plane. He just left us with a "sorry, I can't help you." So we called Vinod's number to figure out what on earth was going on, and a woman answered and said we had the wrong number. (He also hadn't been replying to any of our texts.) We felt like we were in the twilight zone!! Suddenly he had just disappeared... it was like he never existed and we had just been dreaming the whole time that we had been teaching him!
So we looked at the referral card with his phone number on it and compared it to the number in our phone... turned out we were one digit off. :) So we called the right number and he answered and said he'd be home in a few minutes. When he showed up, we asked him why his own roommate didn't know who on earth he was, and he said that his roommate only knows him by his last name--he had never even told him his first name before!! It was super funny. We felt bad though because he said he had been waiting for us to contact him last Sunday like we said we would so he could come to church... turns out we had been inviting a random stranger that whole time instead of him. Oops. :P Glad we worked that out though. It was really weird there for a minute.
Lesson I learned this week: "don't run faster than you have strength." I think that too often I focus on all these crazy advanced missionary skills I want to develop, and I'm trying to skip right over the basics. But when you think about it, a convert has to start from square one... we don't start teaching them about Kolob, or, as Elder Holland puts it, about the "celestial body temperature of glorified beings." We teach them about the first simple steps: prayer, scripture reading, attending church, etc. Why am I an exception? I have to master the basics before I'm ever going to develop advanced missionary skills. :) So this week I decided to start with sincere prayer. I noticed that not all my prayers are as sincere or heart-felt as they could be... and as I've started to pray with sincere, focused effort, really putting my mind and heart into it, I've noticed a big change already. Sincere prayer, as the Bible dictionary puts it, aligns our will with God's. Our desires begin to change. :) I'm still not doing it perfectly, but it's sure helping.
Last fun thing: JIHYE PARK CAME INTO THE BATTALION YESTERDAY!! :D Yay! It was soooo fun to see her! I hope all my amazing 230th ward friends are doing great. (Feel free to come down and see me with Jihye next time she visits her family in San Diego. :) )
I love you all! So does Heavenly Father!
Sister Madsen