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

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!
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!!


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!
Sister Madsen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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: :) 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