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

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
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!!
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. :)
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!
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. :)
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. :)
Sister Madsen