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. :)
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!
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??


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
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. :)
Sister Madsen