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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

well. this feels very unreal...

dear family and friends,
i just can't believe it. this is the weirdest thing that i'm writing my last email right now. in fact, it doesn't really feel real. it just feels like another p-day. :) that's the cool thing about missions... you don't stop being a missionary until the morning you leave. you do regular missionary work every day and every hour, til you come home at 9 pm the night before--none of this "time to prepare to go home" stuff. in fact, george asked me last night if i was busy packing... he was very surprised when i told him i haven't even started yet. haha. :) so i don't think it will really hit me til i actually see your faces.
speaking of george. you all will not believe this. :) heavenly father is incredibly... giving. loving. mindful. i know it wouldn't have mattered whether or not i was here when george got baptized, so long as he did--even if it took him a few more months. but we had a miracle last night. i wrote last week that george was really struggling with the word of wisdom and probably wouldn't go through with his baptism this last saturday. well, he didn't. and we were heart broken. but between friday night and monday night... there were many of the ward members that had him to dinner, took him to a concert, and just spent time with him discussing his concerns. we weren't even there for any of those things. and last night, when we had another lesson, something had changed... george was at peace. we watched the testaments with him, and then discussed how he was feeling... we really weren't expecting him to all of a sudden be ready for baptism, but that's where the spirit turned the conversation. he was telling us that amidst all of his investigating and confusion, a friend had told him to stop worrying about joining the mormon church and to come to church with him instead. but george just straight up told him that he felt like this is where he felt like he needed to be. :) so... we basically just asked him if he still wanted to be baptized, and he said yes."it must a good thing, because for some reason my objections to losing tea have slowly faded." we explained how that was heavenly father blessing him with comfort and strength to overcome that trial. he then went on to say... "it's interesting. the navy seals called me back to work, and i was supposed to start today, but for some reason my paperwork got mixed up and they told me not to come in til next week... i kind of wonder if that's a sign from god that there's something important that i'm supposed to do before then." :) :) :) :) :) :) :) HE COMMITTED TO BE BAPTIZED THIS THURSDAY NIGHT. two days before i leave! :) :) i've never experienced such an incredible tender mercy like this... i couldn't believe my ears. i can't express my gratitude for all of the prayers that i KNOW have come from you and all of the members in our ward on his behalf. many of them even took a weekday to participate in a special fast for him with us. if it weren't for our combined efforts, this wouldn't have happened. george has a safety net of like 50 different people that just wouldn't let him fall. THIS WORK IS REAL, and i KNOW there are many powerful influences on the other side of the veil that are working together to combat the adversary and bring about the salvation of souls! and i cannot WAIT to watch geroge be baptized this week.
in fact, there were a multitude of tender mercies yesterday. i think that yesterday heavenly father was giving me one last perfect day (seeing as the next 3 days are full of meetings and such)... it was like he wrapped it up in a perfect little package with a sparkly bow and said, "here you go, my sweet daughter, thank you for serving a mission for me." :) all of the people we planned to see were home, and we had 4 great spiritual experiences... first off, i got to go to lunch with my companion at this incredibly delicious restaurant, which started the day off great... and then we had this appointment with a lady named nancy who is a born-again-christian. however, she's not argumentative--she's incredibly intelligent, and sincerely loves talking about the things of god. i LOVE--love, love, love. cannot explain how much i love--teaching and discussing the gospel with intelligent people. nancy just GETS it. her faith is real, and though she's off on a few things, she's susceptible to the spirit. oh my gosh. i loved every minute of our visit. THIS IS WHAT I WILL MISS THE MOST. teaching. teaching, teaching, teaching. explaining, proving, describing, analyzing, sharing, showing, TESTIFYING... and then watching the spirit work its way into people's hearts. heavenly father let me have one more great experience with that, which is SO bitter sweet, because i had to leave knowing that i wouldn't be there for our return appointment next week. i just don't want to leave people like nancy behind! but it'll be okay.
next, we went to a potential investigator's house. we ran into her about four weeks ago... she explained that she had been investigating years ago, but it ended badly, even though she really loved attending the LDS church. she then explained that she had found a new church and she was happy there. but WE explained that it wasn't a coincidence that she was placed in our path... and she ended up giving us her phone number and said she would think about it. well... we called and texted a few times over the last couple weeks with no luck. so we just decided to show up again. as soon as she saw us, she said, "i'm sorry i never returned your calls... i've just been fighting with myself. i'm really happy with my church. but every time i look at your texts, there's something inside me that really wants to meet with you again." :) :) :) she is SO prepared. we told her that was definitely an influence from above... she said, "okay. i guess i should. but i can't right now... and i don't know when." to which we responded, "this is what we do 24/7. you tell us the time, and we'll be here." so, i was struck with another heart wrenching moment when sister brown set up a return appointment with her for friday (during which time i will be at departures). how badly i wish i could be here to watch naomi's progress. but how sweet the joy of seeing that miracle in her yesterday! this is what i have been a part of for 18 months!!!
i don't have time to keep describing this perfect day in such great detail, but we then had three more lessons with george, a less active family that totally welcomed us in and missed us dearly, and another investigator who was in tears when we told her how much god loves her and that he has a plan for her. every minute was full of the spirit, and full of the joy of sharing the gospel with others and helping heavenly father's lost sheep.

if i didn't love you all so much, i probably would never come home. :) this has truly been the most sacred time of my life. i can't possibly describe all of the lessons i've learned out here. i can't describe how much my perspective has changed about what REALLY matters. i can't describe how much more fully i understand the gospel now. i can't describe how cool it is to be so intimately involved in this incomprehensible, all-encompassing... movement of the lord's work unto his children. i can't describe the feelings of my heart when i think about leaving it behind. (mostly i've been avoiding those as much as possible.) i can't imagine NOT having served a mission, and sharing in the immense love that i've felt from the lord and from the others i'm surrounded by and that i teach and care for. i don't know how i could have made my life what i want it to be without this experience.
i know this is just a lot of words, and i know i'll get to tell you all about it when i come home, but i still want to tell you anyway...
i know with all my heart that this is the work of god. i KNOW that joseph smith restored the gospel, that he truly was visited by the father and the son, and oh, how GLORIOUS that must have been!! how glorious and full of light our lives can be when we are surrounded by the spirit and LIVING the gospel that our savior has so mercifully provided us through his prophets... and by his atoning sacrifice! I KNOW HE LIVES! and i know that he loves me, even though i still have SO MANY weaknesses to overcome. i know he will continue to help me to change little by little, until every fiber of my being is solely concerned about doing his will.
there is nothing that brings me more joy than watching those that i love progress in the gospel. so please, please, i'm speaking to YOU, those that i love the very most: never let go of your faith! never let go of your testimony! never give up on him! keep growing, onward and upward, and keeping participating the work of salvation! the lord is infinitely more powerful than any being who will try to convince you that it's too hard! he suffered for you so that you can be HAPPY! so please, please, keep doing the things that bring REAL happiness. :) :)
i love being a missionary. and i love you each of you SO MUCH. i will see you very, very soon. until then...


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"it's autumn time, it's autumn time, the leaves are falling down...." la la la...

we had a crazy week this week. we hardly got any teaching in cause we had a lot of shifts, service projects, and a lot of meetings. one of the meetings was called MTE, missionary training exchange. this is where we have a 3 hour gathering with about a third of the missionaries in our mission... i just realized i've probably explained this before. ha. but anyway, after the meeting where we learn a whole bunch of stuff, each companionship goes out with a "coach"--another missionary that's usually been out for a while--and then you spend the rest of the day applying what you learned together. they asked me to be a coach for one of the mandarin companionships at the battalion (sister miller's companionship! yay!). mandarin! ha. it was fun. i learned how to say three things in mandarin: "chein fu" (completely wrong spelling) means heavenly father, "yesu gido" means jesus christ, and "wo i nee" means i love you. :) and we had a cool miracle. one of the topics we discussed at MTE's was creative finding ideas.... one of those ideas being to offer church tours to people on the street. so when our plans cancelled, that's what we did! we drove around to 3 different churches... there were no people to be found ANYWHERE. so at the 4th church, we decided we'd just wait on the corner with a sign that said "church tours." ha. :) well, before we went out to the corner, we went inside the church to make sure all was well, that we could get into the building, etc. right after we walked in, we ran into a maintenance guy. we said hello and chatted for a little bit... we quickly came to learn that he wasn't a member. this man had been doing maintenance on all the church buildings in san diego for years, but had never been to a service. so. turns out our person that we needed to take on a tour was already inside the building!! haha it was crazy. we took him to the chapel and let him feel the spirit there. he kept talking about how much he is always impressed by member of our church whenever he interacts with them.... especially missionaries. turns out he's pretty strong in his own faith.... however, he did agree to have missionaries sent to his house. :) super cool! allen will probably take a little while to get to the right path, but heavenly father has EVER so slowly been preparing him over the years... and this is another small step on his journey.
at the end of MTE's--when we come back together and follow up for a couple hours the next day--they make all of the departing missionaries stand up and bear their testimonies. bleh. can i just say that no matter how often i bear my testimony in lessons, to people on the street, etc, doing it in front of a crowd doesn't ever get less intimidating. :P 
one of the other awesome "meetings" we had this week was my last mission president's fireside! oh my goodness it was so great. so powerful and so full of the spirit. sister riggs, miller, davies, rasmussen, oneill and i did a special musical number called "when he comes for me." (these are all of the sisters that i came out with and that i'm going home with, and they are very close to my heart.) the whole experience was absolutely incredible. we stood at the mic together and locked fingers and just poured our hearts out in song together as a departing testimony of this work. i couldn't stop smiling the whole time we were singing... and let's just say, these sisters got TALENT. we sounded GOOD. :) each of us also sang a two line solo for the verses... even me. holy moly. i was so nervous. there were probably 400 people there. but heavenly father really helped me out cause i was able to get through my lines without my voice cracking or fainting or anything... and then as soon as i finished, my lips starting shaking like crazy! haha. my prayers worked. :) anyway. that will always be one of the most memorable experiences of the end of my mission. it felt so wonderful to bear my witness of the savior through song with my BEST friends.
also, another miracle: one of my former investigators from santee, who totally fell off the face of the earth, showed up to the fireside with his old fellowshipper!!! i was sitting up on the stand with the choir, and about 30 minutes into it he wandered in from the back... and when i realized it was him i gasped. i about died i was so happy to see him there. i don't know if you remember me talking about joe and his little son named freddy, but he was SO PREPARED. and then didn't go through with his baptism. i got to talk to him for a quick minute afterward... i don't know where he's at still as far as investigating, but he was THERE. and that means SOME progress. and now i kinda understand how the father of the prodigal's son story must have felt. :) gosh i love these people!!! i can't believe how much love we have the capacity to feel for the sheep that heavenly father puts in our care.
i had a cool experience at the battalion this week as well. i took a few people on tour... by where they were from, the way they were dressed, how they talked, etc, i assumed they were all nonmembers. two of them were a 40-ish year old mother and her daughter. at the end of the tour, they were the last ones to leave. we were out in the courtyard panning for gold and just chatting. i didn't think anything was going to come from our conversation... usually you can feel when you need to keep people talking so you can invite them to learn from missionaries. but the as the conversation went on and we started talking about her children and places she'd lived, etc, it came out that this woman was actually a completely inactive member of the church. i was totally shocked. but i kept my surprise hidden. :) (they didn't even know there was a mormon museum in old town, they were just down there to play around and wandered in.) suddenly she got kind of quiet... i could tell she was debating internally on what she was about to ask. she then explained that she'd recently been divorced... and that her ex husband had not been approving of the church at all... but now that he wasn't around, she kind of wanted to get back into it. "i just have no idea how to start," she said. :) :) :) boy, were those the magic words. "i can help with that," i said. :) i got her address and told her i would be sending the missionaries. AH! so cool. "dear to the heart of the shepherd, dear are the sheep of his fold... send us out into the desert, seeking thy wandering sheep!!!" I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!
so. now that i've told you all the good news... i have heartbreaking (well--heartbreaking for us) news as well. george is really, really struggling with the word of wisdom. and not even because he's addicted--he's been off of tea and coffee for two weeks now and has been totally fine. but because of the social, cultural aspect of it all. he's filipeno, and he's grown up with tea--it's a big part of their culture. he considers it a part of his identity and doesn't want to let it go... which leads to him questioning if it's really a commandment since it's not even in the bible... which leads to him second-guessing the witnesses he's had that joseph smith is a prophet... :( :( STUPID SATAN. he works the hardest on those that are the most prepared. so... george was supposed to get baptized this saturday, but there's a good chance that he won't. :( however, he is still meeting with us, and he loves being around our ward, so there is hope! we are doing our best to have faith. and even if he doesn't get baptized before i leave... i will be sad, but i know he'll get there eventually. and i know it's not about me. it's about him. and heavenly father will help him get to baptism whenever it is his will. so it will be okay. but still--PRAY FOR GEORGE. please.

i'm sure you've all heard about the phillipines... :( so sad. please keep the missionaries--and the whole country--in your prayers as well.
i love you all! :) keep growing in the gospel and strengthening your testimony, and the testimonies of others as well!
sister madsen

halloween can't be over already...

hope you all had a fabulous halloween and that you didn't get too spooked out by creepy things! :P mostly i'm just glad that as a missionary i get to avoid all the creepiness of halloween and just eat candy and study the scriptures. ha. :) our curfew on halloween is 7 pm, at which point we return to our apartments and study the assigned chapter from president clayton. this time it was D&C 84.... holy moly, can i just say i love learning new things in the scriptures that i've never read before?? i can't wait to come home and take all kinds of institute classes on the doctrines that i don't get to study all that often cause i just teach people the basics. :) anyway. there's a footnote in D&C 84 that leads to hebrews 7:11-16 that absolutely blew my mind. i love, love, love being taught by the spirit. read it. :) and don't worry, i still did SOMEthing festive... sister brown and i were each other for halloween. we wore each other's dresses and nametags (picture attached). (that's about as festive as you can get as a missionary.)
in other news... i about had a HEART ATTACK when a few certain visitors came to the battalion this week... aunt janette, ash and malloree TOTALLY SURPRISED ME!! haha, not fair. :) you all kept me in the dark! i totally knew the day uncle steve was coming, and i knew grandma was coming sometime, but holy moly, that was so unexpected! :) :) i was starting a tour in the middle of the introduction room with some other guests, and suddenly, three dark haired beauties were walking in from the lobby--i started to wave them in to join us, and then i realized who they were. let's just say i felt really bad for my guests that had to watch my reaction. they probably felt really awkward!! haha. but i was just so surprised and OVERJOYED to see them that i couldn't help it! i let my companion take over my tour while i tried to calm down my heart and the four of us sat down to chat for a little bit. :) it felt so surreal to be with them, but so great!! and then i got to take them on the tour! :) we had a fabulous time together. thanks so much for coming to see me, you three!! i REALLY really loved your visit! it made me so happy!! thanks for letting me share such a cherished part of my mission with you. :) I LOVE YOU!
we taught george the word of wisdom last week and guess what? :) he hasn't had a single cup of coffee since. it was so super hard for him to accept that he had to give it up... but he did it anyway! he also was given an incredible priesthood blessing from our ward mission leader after the lesson. george has so much faith. he is still battling satan though, who's trying hard to convince him of other reasons he shouldn't give up coffee, so continue to pray for him, please! we also taught him tithing this week, and he didn't even blink. he accepted it without question. :) SO COOL! george is easily one of the most faithful converts to the gospel that i've ever seen on my mission. all that's left to do is put him in the water! :)
we also did a service project this week for a woman from india. her name is gheeta. she randomly met one of our members at the store and they've kept in touch. gheeta recently decided to move apartments, and she's needed a lot of help, so our member asked us to come to her aid. i've learned quite a few lesson from this interaction: first, other cultures are SO FASCINATING. and sometimes, frustrating. the things that they value compared to the things that i value are just so radically different... it was kind of difficult for me to help her pack, when there's so many things that i would just throw away, and so many things i would just... handle differently. and honestly, i was trying to do what was best for her by relieving her of some of the stress caused by all the STUFF she has and just wants to keep... i was trying to teach her how to have a "house of order, a house of god." but guess what? indians believe in a different god. in fact, they believe in hundreds of gods. so to them, a house of god is one that's packed full of trinkets and rose petals and incense and golden images and candles and ivory elephants and bangles and jewelry and hair accessories and intricately designed clothing... on one hand, they really appreciate beauty. but on the other hand... heavenly father was just showing me how lost some of his children are. so i had to put my pride away and just put myself in her shoes--some people's beliefs are just so incredibly opposite of ours, and their beliefs are SO INGRAINED, that we can't even begin to teach them. we just have to love them. so that's what we did. and she was so sweet and so appreciative of our help... she left us with parting gifts and called us her angels and fed us spicy indian food. someday, i know that gheeta will learn that jesus christ is her savior. until then, i'm grateful to have lent a helping hand to one of heavenly father's beloved daughters.
i think the most humbling indicator that i really have been doing some good around here is the way the members of my ward are responding to my soon-to-be "death." :) many of them are asking for contact information so that we can keep in touch, and members that i've only interacted with a few times are requesting the last open slots on the dinner calendar so i can come visit their home once more. many of them tell us they're going to miss us when we leave, but they aren't just saying it to be nice--they're sincere. they really mean it. of course, i have been in this area over 5 months, which allows for stronger relationships... but i have seen such a huge change in the way that the leaders of our ward respond to our requests for help, and the way they talk about missionary work. i may not have had many progressing investigators or baptisms in this area, but i know that sister brown and i have made an impact on the ward, and the ward is where the REAL missionary work has to start. so, even if all i did was push the ball to get it rolling, that's enough for me.
think that's it for now! hope you're not too freezing in the SNOW! haha. i get three more weeks of sun. :)
sister madsen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

time is even weirder without seasons...

"hola todos!" (-martha sharp, mormon battalion)
welp. mostly i cant believe it's the end of october. it still feels like august down here.
GEORGE is INCREDIBLE. he is going to be the best member of the church ever! he is still progressing very well. this week we had a lesson at the harrell's, our ward mission leader's house. we watched "joseph smith, prophet of the restoration" with him. that movie is a miracle worker, let me tell ya. he was so appreciative that we showed it to him, things made much more sense to him and it really touched his heart as well. (humankind... i swear that movies are the only thing left that really get people's attention. :P good thing heavenly father can use technology too!) the spirit was strong. during the closing prayer, which he offered, he said, "i do believe that this is christ's true church." :D GEORGE HAS A TESTIMONY! and then, the next day, the harrells brought him down to the mormon battalion and we got to give him a tour! he loved it. he kept saying, "i had no idea that the mormon church had such a rich history." and THEN, they took him to the temple grounds! he had a night full of the spirit and he just really enjoyed himself. the next day at church, he brought us a HUGE flower arrangement to say thank you!! it was SO sweet. he brought one for the harrells as well! (i don't know if i told you, but any time we have a lesson at a member's house and they provide treats or whatever, he sends them a thank you card. and he remembers the name of every single person he meets.) i was going to take a picture of it to show you, but i forgot. :( but i will send one with us and the harrells and him. i am so excited for george! last hurdle to overcome is coffee... we're teaching him the word of wisdom tonight. pray that his testimony is strong enough that he will be willing to give it up!
something else really awesome happened this week. we received a referral from usually those don't turn out very solid. but we always contact them anyway. we showed up at this guy's house--his name is ryan--and he invited us right in. that was the first shock. we sat down and started talking... and there were a couple of words he and his wife used that made me wonder how much they'd been around the church... like "ward" and "bishop." it didn't take long before we figured out that they were actually already members. i was kinda disappointed at first--i thought this was going to be a really solid investigator! haha. but then they told us what brought about the referral, and it's super cool... ryan is a convert, but he converted with his older brothers when he was like ten, so he never really gained a solid testimony. alyssa is a life time member. after they got married (they were never sealed), they went totally inactive. they've been inactive for about 10 years now. however... they also have two little girls. (kendall, the 6 month old, is SO. STINKING. CUTE. i get really distracted by her when we try to teach them. :P) and lately they've been thinking about what will be best for their family... so ryan put his own name in the referral system to request a missionary visit! this a change stemming directly from their own desire. we don't even have their records on our ward list, so we never would have contacted them. they asked us to teach them discussions... they really want help to get going in the right direction. HOW COOL IS THAT?? all day, every day, we ask people to change... we plead with them to make changes in their lives so they will be blessed. and here are two sweet people who want to gain a real testimony all on their own so their family can be happy! man. so amazing. we are so excited to help them back to the fold. :)
there's another man named bruce who is less active--can't remember if i've written about him before--that we're also teaching. when we showed up at his door, his first reaction was, "man, you guys just keep finding me!" but he warmed up to us after a while and told us we could come back. "when the boys come, i send them away," he said. "but i can talk to girls." :) bruce just needed sisters. so cool to know and feel that i am NEEDED. and that i could be an instrument in the lord's hands specifically for bruce. so we've taught him 3 or 4 times now... and guess what? :) this sunday, bruce CAME TO CHURCH for the first time in 50 YEARS. :) :) :) heavenly father was definitely smiling down on that one. (also, bruce needed some help putting up his brand new ping pong table, which i gladly agreed to... :) he he. that was fun.)
i had an awesome "i can't believe i'm really a missionary" moment this week, too. last week we stopped a guy named randy on the street and talked to him for a minute... he said we could come back, but we weren't sure how interested he really was. he was really nice though, so we gave it a shot. on sunday night, we went back to his apartment, and he had TONS of questions, as did his roommate. they were truly curious though, and respectful--they weren't like "trying to prove you wrong" questions. suddenly, as i was just sitting there, it hit me how cool this was: here i was, sitting in a COMPLETE stranger's HOME, having a religious discussion and sharing my testimony with two men who had no idea who we were, but who let us into their house simply because we stopped them on the street and had the spirit in our countenances. THAT is the power and authority of my calling. THAT is why it's so cool to be a missionary. THAT is why i love what i do. and after i leave, i will never be able to do anything like that again. :( i'm really, really sad about that. i will miss those experiences with all my heart. but holy smokes, i am so grateful that i'm here! :) :) randy and ramon did not decide that they wanted to keep learning. but they said they would read the book of mormon we left with them, and i know our visit was a critical part of their eventual conversion. i have no doubt they will both find the truth someday. how amazing to see their journey from heavenly father's eyes. and all because we said hello and asked if we could pet his dogs. :) I LOVE THIS WORK.
so things are going well. we have some other investigators too that have a lot of potential. we're working on them right now, i'll let you know how they progress. :)
i love you! so much! :) thanks for all your love, prayers, and support.
with love,
sister madsen

Sunday, October 20, 2013

i can't really remember what happened this week... i'm thinking about paris...

October 15 ,2013

hi everyone!
i don't have much to write about this week. mostly because i just got my brother's video that he is going to PARIS FRANCE ON HIS MISSION and i can't really focus on anything else. :) but just for quick updates:
1. tomorrow is the start of another transfer. (i keep trying to avoid talking about how it's my last. i'm in denial.) we found out this morning that SISTER BROWN AND I GET TO STAY TOGETHER! :D that will be four transfers for us! that's the longest i've ever been with a companion... that will mean SIX MONTHS together! a third of my mission! i'm really grateful. i love sister brown. she is my best friend and i wouldn't want to finish out my mission with anyone else.
2. george is doing well! he is sensing a lot of peace and understanding come in to his life. he believes that the book of mormon is true and that joseph smith was a prophet... we're just now getting to teach him about the commandments, which shouldn't be a problem for him. the only thing now is that he needs a witness that this is god's ONLY true church on the earth. but i have no doubt it will come. it is so gratifying to watch him progress in the gospel! what a blessing to be a part of this sweet, humble man's conversion. (if all goes well, he could get baptized before i leave! :) hope so.) the ward is doing great at fellowshipping him... he feels very welcome, and they all love him. MEMBERS PLAY SUCH A CRITICAL ROLE IN BRINGING OTHERS INTO THE GOSPEL.
3. funny story: we got a random text message yesterday from an unknown number. it was a man named cliff. he told us his friend john referred him to us because we do bible study. the kicker is, we have no idea who either of those people are! but he wants to meet up! so we might have this random new investigator who appeared literally out of nowhere... its an exciting mystery. we're gonna meet up with him tomorrow. :) (don't worry, we'll bring a responsible adult to make sure he's not a creeper. ha.)
4. we had a rainy day last week! probably the only rain i'll see til i leave. but it POURED. it reminded me of home, and it was so fun being out on the streets with out umbrella! and cool how it happened... we didn't realize it was going to rain, and we weren't prepared. so what did we do? we called the closest person we knew and asked to borrow their umbrella. that happened to be our member louesa, whose non-member husband we are currently teaching... he wasn't there when we showed up, and it was the perfect opportunity for louesa to tell us about some of his concerns so that we knew how to teach him better. :) revelation comes in a multitude of different ways. that was definitely needed revelation--and all because of the rain! :) when we taught him again yesterday, we could tell he was much more comfortable. heavenly father works in the coolest ways.

that's all for now! CONGRATULATIONS EASTON! :) best. news. ever. and it makes me SO HAPPY!
i love you! stay strong and smile and love your life! cause i do!
sister madsen

welp. life is full of surprises. :)

October 8, 2013

oh hey.
so. last week i wrote some good news about baltasar and some bad news about george. welp... surprise! now it's the opposite. :) haha. baltasar decided he doesn't want to learn after all, which is a bummer... but he's still really young and he's got a lot to figure out about life, so i'm sure he'll get there someday. plus, his great grandma, who is 94 years old (but thinks she's 91) stood up randomly in the middle of conference and said that she wants to be baptized! haha. she decided she wants to be a mormon like the rest of her family now. she has no idea really what it's all about... she can barely hear or see. but somehow we're going to try to teach her... president says as long as she can answer the interview questions, she can be baptized. :) so that should be interesting. we're just gonna get that whole family into heaven one at a time!
and george... man. i wasn't very hopeful when george randomly told us there was stuff happening at work and he would call when it was over. but guess what? he actually did. and although i feel really sad for him because he ended up losing his job, i know that's what needed to happen in his life right now because that's what has been taking him away from learning about the gospel. hopefully he'll be able to find a job elsewhere soon. so we taught him twice this week! the second lesson was on the plan of salvation... he told us he hasn't really thought much about life after death because it scares him. so when we showed him the plan of salvation outline... he said, "wow. that was really... moving." he was totally feeling the spirit and he didn't know how else to describe it. and he's finally been reading the book of mormon. and last but not least, he watched both sessions of general conference at bishop's house with us on sunday! he's really putting in the effort. :) and all he needs now is to recognize the holy ghost telling him that this is god's true church. it's often difficult to help people recognize their answers, when to me, they're clear as daylight! but he'll get it soon.
and speaking of conference... wasn't it FABULOUS?? :) i loved it. my favorite talks were elder soares's on meekness--that was totally an answer to my prayer--elder ballard's of course, elder uchtdorf's (i have half a mind to just print 50 copies of that talk and drop it off at the houses of our less actives).... well. i had a lot of favorites. i can't name them all. but suffice it to say that conference is the BEST and i can't believe it's passed already. luckily i get 60 some-odd more years of conference--and twice a year at that! :) i hope you all took good notes and got answers to your prayers. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. i have a testimony of that. and when your answer comes directly from his holy servants... there's nothing more powerful.
that's all i have time for today. everything else is going great, life is just fabulous. this might be the last week i have with sister brown! sad. (we are planning to write to president to make him think we are still having troubles and so we still need time to sort through them and learn from each other... :P ha. jk.)
anyway, sorry it's a short one. but i love you all and happy october!
sister madsen

All Is Well In Zion :)

October 1, 2013 

hey hey.
so. i'm just gonna come out and say it. we had a pretty stinky week this week. but guess what? all is well in zion. :) why? because the lord is in control. and i have faith in him.
george left a message on our phone saying something came up at work and to please be patient while he figures it out--until then, he can't investigate the church anymore. he gave us no idea how long it would take... he just said to wait for his call. and christine... man. after our miracle with her last week, i thought she'd be good to go... but she, too, has stopped responding to our calls/texts--again. so i've been praying for a second round of miracles with her, but nothing's happened yet. even if nothing does, i'm comforted in the knowledge that she is not lost for good. i know she'll join the church eventually, and that will be a very happy day. :)
so that left us with... well, no investigators to teach. :P (we have a few others that are kind of wishy-washy here and there... nothing solid.) and it seemed like everything just kept falling through! our plans to go visit less actives, our back-up plans, even... we did a lot of running around and not much teaching. but for some odd reason, i still feel happy. :) i guess i'm getting better (a little late, i know :P) at looking at the bigger picture.... the grander scheme. for example: our stake president has really been making a push for the members to do missionary work by inviting people into their homes. not even to teach them the gospel--just to have them THERE, in a place where they feel the spirit and the love of god. that's the easiest piece of cake missionary work anyone can do! you don't even have to talk about the church! just have a party at your house and invite less actives or nonmembers. :) so that's been catching a little... our relief society president is really stepping up. and our ward mission leader. and once the MEMBERS are doing the work... heck, we won't HAVE any dead weeks. that may not happen in the next two months i have left... but like i said, in the grander scheme, it's going to be awesome! :)
another miracle of the week was baltasar morrison. :) he is the 18 year old son of our recent convert family, the mendiolas. he's the only one in their family that didn't get baptized with them. in fact, he didn't even take the lessons--he didn't really want anything to do with the church. well, his family have been praying their hearts out for him, of course, and recently he had a run-in with the law... so heavenly father has been softening his heart. :) he agreed to meet with us on sunday! we couldn't believe our ears. so we went over and taught him... once we established that we weren't there "just to make him one of our followers," he warmed up to the idea of learning. he understands about free agency and that no one can make him do anything... he also understands that man has highly corrupted the doctrines of spirituality, and he doesn't know what to believe because of it. (this is everything he's been thinking about on his own, btw--not anything we explained to him.) so it will be SO COOL to explain that yes, man HAS corrupted the truth--BUT IT HAS BEEN RESTORED TO ITS FULLEST, PERFECT FORM, and he can KNOW it. :) :) :) (we didn't really have time to get to that part--his dad talks a lot. ha.) so we're excited. please pray for baltasar!
oh!! i also wanted to share something from a couple weeks ago that i totally forgot! (or maybe i did share it...? haha i dunno. you might be getting this twice.) when i went on exchanges with sister lehmitz, she shared this with me during study. it was EXACTLY what i needed at the time. and i just think it's a powerful concept. we've been talking/sharing a lot about god's love with people lately... in fact, sister brown and i both bore our testimonies about it on sunday. anyway, here it is:
bible dictionary under "fear": "...fear is spoken of as something unworthy of a child of God, something that “perfect love casteth out” (1 Jn. 4:18). The first effect of Adam’s sin was that he was afraid (Gen. 3:10). Sin destroys that feeling of confidence God’s child should feel in a loving Father and produces instead a feeling of shame and guilt. Ever since the Fall God has been teaching men not to fear, but with penitence to ask forgiveness in full confidence of receiving it."
i LOVE that. and i have been learning this lesson SO MUCH on my mission. i hope it gives you as much encouragement as it did for me. :)

i love you all SO MUCH! :) hope you are doing great. the gospel is true and its mind-blowing! KEEP LIVING IT. (and remember that to live it is to share it. :) )
love love love
sister madsen

Friday, September 20, 2013

christine at church and george with a date :)

hey fam,
hope you're all having an awesome week and a fabulous september. :) i'm missing the changing of leaves around here! i remember writing about that last year... don't worry mom, i still have the fake leaves you sent me, i'm going to break them out soon.
we had another great week this week! christine and george are progressing really well. george goes out of town for work a lot, though, so it's hard to keep him steady... but he was finally back in town yesterday and sister brown and another member (we were on splits) met with him last night. they said the lesson went really well and he accepted to work toward baptism at the end of november! :) you know, it's pretty crazy how sometimes, one companion's strengths are needed more than the other's. sister brown is more bold than i am, and she does even bolder things when i'm not around. ;) but i know that's how it was supposed to happen!
in the meantime, i had a great lesson with a less active family in our ward. i just want to say that often the people you least expect to change can really surprise you! this was the second lesson we had with them... the first lesson was pretty... difficult. there were 4 kids under the age of 5 who were pretty distracting... the chargers game was on, too. (don't worry, i only peeked at the screen twice. :P) so we weren't sure, when we walked away, how much they got out of it. but i was happily surprised when i returned last night and found out that both of the sisters had actually read in the book of mormon! our visit really did have an impact... and these girls, who are both single moms and who haven't been active for years, ACTED on what they felt. :) what a humbling experience!
christine came to church for the first time this sunday, too! she enjoyed it, and she really took something away from it... the very first talk was about searching for answers through the scriptures and the holy ghost! it was perfect for her. she also has a goal set for baptism. :) and after church she told us she had read 8 chapters of the book of mormon the night before! we are so excited for her. please pray for both george and christine, that they can continue to be strong and overcome any obstacles placed in their path to receiving the gospel.
we did a really unique finding activity yesterday... he he. :) we took our ward mission leader's puppy to the dog park! (we didn't really think about asking permission... we realized after we got in the car with her that our fleet coordinator might not approve of a canine in a mission car. oops.) poor abby actually hated the park... haha. she's not a social dog AT ALL. she loves humans, though. :) anyway, we got to have some great conversations with the people there... they're all really friendly with each other, and were even friendly with us--because we had a dog with us, of course. :) but now that we know the ropes a little better we'll probably try it again and see if we can turn the conversations into added investigators! (oh, and in case you were wondering, EVERYONE in san diego has a dog. it's NUTS.)
last but not least, I went on an exchange with a sister at the battalion named sister lehmitz this week. she has only been out about 3 months... and i can't even tell you how great she is. she has the PUREST heart of any missionary i've ever met. she serves strictly out of love for her savior and the people she teaches. she is the kindest, sweetest, humblest sister i've ever served around, and we had some powerful lessons that day. and it made me want to be a lot more like her. i love how heavenly father places other people in our lives at just the right time to motivate us to be better and change our weaknesses into strengths.
that's all for today! keep up the good work in your own lives and in the lives of others! i love you!
sister madsen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

i'm really getting bad at this... :P sorry!

hey all,
so... i'm struggling to write good emails lately! haha. i feel like i've been out for so long that it's just normal life to me now and so... writing about normal life doesn't seem as exciting. :P i'm trying to think of good things from the week to write about...
first of all, i got to go through the temple with LILY last week! :D it was soooo cool. we got to the temple and changed, and then when we walked to the staircase that leads up to the session, there were a couple people from the black mountain branch that were there waiting for her to finish initiatories. so we waited with them. when she walked out with nicole, her escort, there was a group of 5 or 6 of us there to greet her in her white dress... ah! she looked unbelievable... glowing from the inside out. she had kind of an apprehensive look on her face at first--not in a "what am i doing here?" kind of way, but just in a soaking-it-all-in kind of way... and then she turned to nicole and whispered, "am i allowed to hug them?" :) she's so cute. nicole nodded and lily came straight over to me and gave me a HUGE hug!! oh my goodness... how special that was. and then we went to the session and to the celestial room... i wondered what was going through her head, of course--being a missionary you're ALWAYS worried about how your investigator/convert is receiving new information :P--but she was just smiling like nobody's business and saying, "that was amazing." :) ah! this will always be one of the most special memories of my entire mission. i am SO GRATEFUL for LILY!! she is one of heavenly father's choicest daughters. i can't believe it's been a year since she was baptized! and now she's the ward mission co-chair. oh--and engaged to be sealed for time and all eternity. :) :) THAT is what missionary work is all about! (take note, family... i WILL be heading back for her wedding in april... so in case you want to plan a vacation in advance or somethin... ;) )
let's see, let's see... other good things that happened this week... most other things pale in comparison to that. :P george went out of town, so we didn't get to teach him this week... and christine had jaw surgery, so we didn't get to teach her either... we will tonight though. the mormon battalion is doing good, just way slow now... when school starts it goes dead for a couple of weeks. :P but then fall breaks/holiday season it picks back up a little. oh! i had a really cool conversation with a kid from germany who is agnostic... i could tell by his reactions during the tour that he kind of thought the whole "believing in god" thing was a joke. he was cool enough, though, that i could be pretty blunt-but-still-friendly. :) i looked him straight in the eye, and i promised him that god would TRULY manifest himself to him if he sincerely prayed and asked. the spirit was definitely in my words, because his little smirk fell off his face... he knew and felt that i meant what i said, and he humbly nodded. i challenged him to pray that night, and he said that he would. i don't know if he ever did, but i know that was a solid seed planted.
one more sweet story: i went on splits with sarah mendiola, my recent convert, on saturday. we were just doing some contacting and went to a former investigator's house... we were halfway up his walkway when all the sudden his neighbor was waving excitedly at us. that's really abnormal for random strangers to be excited to see missionaries. usually they run in their house, shut all the screens, lock all the doors, close all the blinds, board up the windows, and hibernate for 42 hours until they're sure we're gone. :P so i wasn't surprised when sarah suddenly shouts, "christie??" and runs over and gives this lady a huge hug. turns out she was her co worker... they live 2 miles away from each other and never knew it. i also doubt that christie knew that sarah is now a mormon. ;) so we get talking, and guess what?? just the DAY before, there were two sister missionaries that were in the doctor's office where christie works... they had a long conversation with her and told her to come visit them at the mormon battalion, which she agreed to. (yes, they were sisters i work with!) isn't that crazy?? first at her work, and then a day later at her home! and this was sarah's first time on splits! NOT A COINCIDENCE. heavenly father has PERFECT placement. :) this also happens to be a hard time in christie's life... she's going through a divorce. so it's even more obvious that heavenly father is trying to reach her... hopefully she'll pick up on these signs!! she and sarah are going to plan a day to come visit us and we'll go from there. :)
okay. i think that's sufficient. :) THE GOSPEL IS TRUE! i refuse to believe i only have 11 weeks left to share it. :( it's too good to stop!!
i love you all (that is, if there's even multiple people reading this. ha.)! :)
love love love
sister madsen

p.s. san diego has these crazy weird spider seasons... we found this one walking back to our car the other night. they're everywhere! yuck. :P (you should see sister brown freak out... haha. i thought i was bad.)

miracles still happen :)

hey howdy hey,
we got transfer calls this morning. sister brown and i are staying together in mira mesa! no big changes. :) we are excited to be together still. she is seriously my best friend! we've gone through so much together (including a DEAD area) and our relationship is so strong because of it.
we had SUCH a great week this week! :) we finally saw some changes in the area... we had two investigators at church after having 6 weeks in a row of zeroes! that was a miracle and a half. :) we are especially excited about 2 of our 4 new investigators that we added this week! they seem solid-- the first is george, the second is christine. we met george during our blitz a couple weeks back. he was a former investigator, and odds are when you show up at a former investigator's door, they don't really want you back. but for some reason unbeknownst to us, george said we could come back! but just to give him a call first. he wasn't really willing to talk right then though, so we didn't know how sincere he was being... but when we called him, he set up an appointment, and kept it. :) during that appointment, we found out that he has a long history of involvement in different christian religions, and lately there had been a couple things happening with the churches he had been attending that made him second-guess if he should be there... and then we showed up at his door! he said he took that as a sign from god that it was time to move on and try something different, and hence, he wanted to listen to what we had to offer. :) SO FASCINATING how people are prepared at different times! the last time missionaries taught him, he didn't want it... and now, through a series of events, god has prepared his heart and placed missionaries in his path again. :) george is so, so, so nice. he is filipeno, very soft-spoken, in his late 40's and never married. he's also a navy seal doctor, so that's pretty awesome. :)
christine is also amazing. she has been renting a room from one of our members for quite a while, and she too, has slowly been prepared. she is an excellent cook--went to culinary school and everything--so she's fed us dinner twice before, but we still didn't have the opportunity to really teach her/ask her if she wanted to learn. however, now that we look back on it, we know that was because christine is one of those people who needed to build a relationship with us first before she would listen/trust us. finally we went back this sunday to visit, and we just straight out told her how much we loved her and that we felt prompted that we needed to give her the lessons. for some reason, we were so nervous! it's interesting--we talk to random strangers on the street everyday and ask them if they want to learn, but we felt so much more nervous asking someone who was already our friend! i think it's because we fear rejection more so from people who REALLY have potential. and christine really has potential. "this house is different," she said. "i've been to plenty of other homes where people claim to be christian, and this house just has a sense of peace... and i really think it must be your religion." :) ah! we're so excited.
fun things:
1. we had a ward luau this week that was a HUGE turnout! :) lots of less-actives and nonmembers. and great food. :)
2. we went pedaling around coronado island last week for p-day! it was so beautiful, and SO FUN! i'm sending pictures. :) YES, this is where i LIVE!! :D
3. i'm going through the temple tonight with LILY! my convert from a year ago!! :D aaahhhh!!! so proud of her. and so honored that i get to go and be a part of her endowment. what a special thing!

TWO MORE TRANSFERS. that's 12 weeks! for some reason, 12 weeks sounds like a lot less than 3 months. i dropped sister mendez (one of my lovely battalion sisters) off at the airport today to fly home... and it totally weirded me out to be there! GAH! don't make me leave!!! i SWEAR sister madsen will be my name for life!
i love you MUCHO. mucho mucho. :)
sister madsen

Thursday, August 29, 2013

good things happening :)

Lily's Baptism! 

hey everyone!
sorry i've been a slacker at writing posts these past couple weeks. here i am!
we saw some good things this week! we have been struggling to find new people to teach. it has been a trying time for us. i mean, every missionary goes through dry spells, but it's always harder in the moment than it seens like from an outsider's perspective. plus, i feel like they don't normally last as long as ours has. but anyway. last sunday we got TWO referrals from a member that JUST moved into our ward. she's an awesome member missionary. we visited both of them this week and now we are teaching them. not so sure how solid they are at the moment, but we have hope. and then on wednesday we did a blitz with our zone! i have never participated in a blitz before, but it was pretty cool... it's where all the missionaries in your whole zone go to a specific area and contact like crazy. so they all came to our area! we have a few potentials from that which we hope to start working with too. one set of elders contacted a girl who just moved here from indiana... and one of the first things she told them was that she was looking for a church to join! :) pretty awesome. she received the restoration lesson well and will probably be passed off to the YSA branch soon. miracles are everywhere!
i think the coolest miracle this week, though, was our visit from elder haynie (not sure how you spell his name) from the 70. we had stake conference this weekend and he came to speak. he gave an incredible talk on temples, and preparing to be in the house of the lord. but also, the entire adult session was on missionary work, and then, after the general session, we had a meeting... it consisted of every bishop, ward mission leader, ward missionary, and full time missionary in the stake, as well as our mission president, president clayton, and the stake president. and oh my word. it was a POWERFUL meeting. elder haynie talked about the shift in paradigm that needs to be happening around here. he shared a quote from elder bednar that said something about the keys to missionary work in a given area residing with the stake president, NOT the mission president. (confusing, i know. but it made sense the way he said it.) anyway, the idea is that missionary work belongs to the members of the area, and the full time missionaries are here to assist THEM in THEIR work. it was really motivating for everyone present, and right away we saw a change in our bishop--he asked us to come over to his house the day after and teach his family how they can be doing missionary work. while we were there, his family came up with 7 names (and they were planning on thinking of more) of nonmembers that they can invite to their home. :) it's been pretty hard for the past two transfers to get members to do missionary work, so that was a huge blessing, and i know that a lot of miracles will come from it soon.
and our ward mission leader came back from vacation after being gone for a month! haha. we felt pretty leaderless for a while. it's hard to coordinate without a coordinator. just goes to show that the church really is true and that god has a perfect system of organization. without his system, his children are wanderers. he speaks through his leaders to get to his other leaders to get to us and his children. :) i love being a member of god's perfect church.
i've also had a change of heart this week. of course, i keep having to have a re-change of heart--this concept is nothing new. i swear this a lesson i've already learned 46 times on my mission. (sometimes i wonder how many more times i'll have to learn it.) but it was a lesson on faith, positive thinking, trusting heavenly father, praying sincerely, diligence, believing in myself, and THINKING accordingly--all rolled into one. :) the biggest part of it, though, was remembering that first and foremost, heavenly father LOVES me. and is PROUD of me. i have the hardest time letting myself really believe that. i'm sure grateful for the atonement and the power it has to change us, piece by painful piece. i'm also grateful for my companion and the lessons i've learned with her that i haven't been able to learn with ANYONE else--i KNOW god gave her to me for that purpose.
think that's all for now! hope you're all having a dandy end-of-summer! (wait--what?? it's the end of summer?? i swear it just started...)
sister madsen

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 6, 2013 (Catching up on the blog!)

hey everyone!
this'll be a short one, we went to the temple for p-day today so we're short on time! it was so good to be there, i love the spirit at the temple, and i love the chance to be reminded of my covenants and how powerful they are. we did initiatories, too! in fact, we were doing them on behalf of our recent converts' ancestors! :) sarah did their genealogy and then did their baptisms, and then she handed them over to us. how cool is that? it was pretty special.
other great things of the week:
1. sister burden (my trainer) came back to san diego to visit! she TOTALLY surprised me, it was so fun to see her! (picture of her, me, and sister miller attached.)
2. our investigators kim and brandon, who live together, decided to up and get married at the end of the month! :) we haven't even addressed their situation yet, nor talked to them about baptism... but we think it's probably heavenly father preparing them. :) they are sincerely seeking, we think... at least kim is. so we have great hopes for them.
3. one of my investigators from my old area got baptized! her name is becca, and she is INCREDIBLE. power house convert. kind of like lily. :) she used to be an atheist! but god played a huge role in her life recently because he needs her in his church. :) she found the truth! and through her less active boyfriend who got back on track and baptized her! :) yay! the church is true!
lastly, i just want to re-emphasize how much i love all of you. hearing of the recent death of friend makes me realize how grateful i am for the gospel of jesus christ, who has POWER over death, and we WILL live eternally with those we love. thank you for your love and support, please continue doing what you do best and give that love to all those who are in need of it. :)
i love you! with all my heart!
sister madsen

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2 Investigators :)

i finally have investigators to write about this week! haha. i always feel bad when i don't have investigators to write about... this area is just really, really slow. but i promise it's not because sister brown and i are slacker missionaries! ;) heavenly father finally blessed us for our diligence this week. it was actually a really cool story... and it just goes to show how important it is to always be worthy of the spirit!!
so wednesday was a pretty interesting day... we read our schedule wrong and missed our morning temple shift--we thought we were on the night shift. so basically we ended up having a full day in our area and 6 plan-less hours. :( when that happens, it can be difficult for me to keep a good attitude. in addition to that, sister brown wasn't feeling very well, and it's always harder to get things done when you're companion's distracted by her bodily complaints. but i decided to work hard anyway, and do my best to listen to heavenly father and figure out what he wanted us to do with our time that was completely up in the air. because of that, i kept the spirit with me, and we ended up having a pretty good night... and when we went home and planned for the next day, we were still in tune with the spirit.
we were in the middle of setting back-up plans for the next day when i felt unsure about a name we had chosen. it wasn't a huge prompting or anything, i almost just ignored it and moved on, but then i thought, "it's better safe than sorry, and it's just a back up plan..." so we chose a different name. well. turns out that appointment cancelled, so we ended up visiting our back up plans after all. it was like 8:10 pm, 20 minutes before we were supposed to head home, and i kinda just felt done with the day. but when we stopped at this woman's house (a less active who lives with her non-member family) something awesome happened. her husband let us in right away, something we weren't expecting. and then as we were talking to her, this woman's granddaughter appeared. she started asking us questions, and then explained that she was just in saint george at her friend's sister's farewell. that was the first time she had ever been to a mormon church... her friend was less-active for a long time and had recently decided she wants to get back into it. we asked her if she wanted to join us for the lesson, and she said "sure." :) and at the end, when we asked her if she wanted to learn more, she said yes. :) :) yay! it was SO OBVIOUS that heavenly father had been preparing this girl to meet us. it is not a coincidence that we came to her house and this random time in her life where her good friend decides to be active again. and just to think... if i hadn't kept a good attitude the day before, if i hadn't listened to that TINY little prompting... we never would have found her! you'd never guess that the actions of one day lead into the next, but they DO. every choice we make affects our opportunities in the future. HEAVENLY FATHER IS SO GOOD. :) :) and we are excited to keep teaching kim, we really hope it goes somewhere promising. :)
the other investigator that we picked up is a guy named rick that the ASL elders ran into. :) he's not deaf though--they just knocked on his house looking for a deaf person and he was there instead, and he said we could come back. :) he's pretty skeptical, but very nice and willing to listen. i just hope he'll listen long enough for the spirit to get the chance to work on him. yay for the chance to REALLY teach again!! i love teaching. it's my favorite part.
it's such a privilege to be a part of this work. when i sit here to write about my week, i go back through my planner to remember the experiences i want to tell you about... and just hit me how many people, members and nonmembers alike, that i have the opportunity to love and influence. and i'm eternally grateful. i dunno... especially when time is running out, you really appreciate each experience more than the last. (i hit my 4-months-left mark this week.... gah.)
my motto of the last couple weeks, in order to more fully utilize my time as the lord's servant, has been "don't listen to satan." it can be easy to think about the last year of my mission and wonder if i did everything i was supposed to... and it can be easy to entertain those discouraging thoughts. but i read a quote from elder holland that really stood out to me: "god doesn't care nearly as much about where you have been as where you are going." so every time i start to live in the past, i make myself stop and focus on the present. and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes. :) i would encourage you all to do the same.

other fun things: we went to the zoo last week! :) san diego has the coolest zoo ever. much better than the hoogle zoo. we had a blast, and our recent convert family came with us, so it was great. i'll attach pictures.
elder ballard is coming to speak to us tomorrow! he's here every summer. :) we're pretty spoiled. i'll have to tell you all about it next week!
i love you soooo much! and the gospel is the best thing EVER! :)
sister madsen

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

another soul brought unto Christ!! :)

hi everyone!
welp. we... baptized our only investigator on saturday. ha. :) donna is the sweetest, most innocent, child-like old lady i've ever met. really. she melts my heart. i wish you could have been there to listen to her testimony after her baptism. in her timid little voice, with her eyes on the ground and her daughter sarah at her shoulder, she simply thanked the man who baptized her and said, "i feel better now. name of jesus christ amen." OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE HER SO MUCH! the service went great (she was triple dipped cause of her toes... haha poor thing). afterwards we all went over to her house for enchiladas, and many of the ward members came to support, for which i was very grateful. donna and her humble family have taught me SO MUCH, and i'm so grateful for the chance to be part of their lives.
and now... haha we have ZERO investigators. no one to teach. :) so yesterday, guess what we did? we spent 4 straight hours on the street just contacting people. and going to previous contact's houses. and it surprisingly went really well. usually full-days are not my favorite... but everything went sooo smoothly yesterday, we both knew we were being led by the spirit the whole time, and now we have 4 potential investigators. :) it was such a good day.
we also went to a less active's house who hadn't been to church in years... usually those kind of people arent all that friendly to missionaries cause they don't like the attention from the church. but as soon as this man opened the door, he said, "hi sisters!" and came out to talk to us. we talked to him for like an hour. he has an incredible life story... just had some rough life experiences and hard trials that got him down and he slowly stopped coming from there. but i couldn't believe how excited he was to see us. the lesson that i learned from this visit was this: HEAVENLY FATHER IS SO AWARE OF HIS CHILDREN. last fall, this man was in the hospital for pancreatic cancer. and he survived. shortly after that he drove to the church building on a weekday and looked for a sign or something that told him what time the ward meets but couldn't see anything... she he kind of chickened out, but has been thinking about things every since then. and then we show up at his door. also, this man's records had been lost for a while, so no one knew anything about him... and we happened to find them right at this turning point in his life.   .....? i repeat... heavenly father is SO AWARE.


now to get the area moving. :) it may be snail's pace right now, but even snails can gain momentum... ;)
i love you! hope you've had a fabulous week!
sister madsen

p.s. i'm sending pictures of some fun things: pictures from beautiful balboa park, which we visited last week, and these two cute little member girls who wore their missionary tags from primary when we came over for dinner the other night :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"and the rocket's red glare..."

oh, hello. :)

sounds like you all had a great 4th! mine was good too! :) i can't believe that last year for the fourth i was watching the stadium fireworks from the MTC... gah!! so weird! this year for the fourth sister brown and i went to our ward's picnic... don't worry. we were DEFINITELY dressed in red, white and blue. :) (that's my favorite part. but i forgot to take pictures! darn...) and then we worked the night shift at the battalion, where we had ANOTHER barbeque (hehe--so spoiled), AND, after closing, guess what we got to do?? we got to crawl on the roof of the battalion--yes, all of us in pioneer dresses--and watch the fireworks on the beach! :) :) (haha... i promise i'm a real missionary and that i don't just do fun things all the time... :P)
this will probably sound a little cheesy. but it's crazy how you come to appreciate events in the world's history the more you understand the gospel. i mean, the revolutionary war is prophesied in the book of mormon!! so awesome. god is in everything. and WE LIVE in the promised land!! how cool is that?? i'm so grateful for a free country where the gospel has been RESTORED, and i'm humbled that i'm blessed enough to be a part of it.

well. the only two investigators we've been teaching regularly both told us to go away this week. (donna's the only one left and she's getting baptized on saturday--i forget that she's even our investigator because she's been set for baptism since we got here and she's practically a member already.) so... yeah. that kinda stinks. :( so we're just in the process of finding again... meeting with a lot of members and encouraging them--well, committing them ;)--to invite their friends! we have a lot of great members who seem willing to help so hopefully we'll see some growth here soon. peter doramus, for example, who is only TWELVE, and who is reading the book of mormon all by himself and is now in mosiah, walked over to his neighbor's house with us the other day to give him a book of mormon! :) "shall the youth of zion falter...? NO!" sooo cool. kids like that make me feel like there's hope in the world afterall. :)
a similar little miracle happened on sunday... magnus, one of the mendiolas who got baptized a couple weeks back, passed the sacrament! (he's also 12.) this young little boy, who had no previous knowledge of the gospel, now holds the power of god. it gave me chills to watch him. :) such a neat experience. i'm so grateful to be a part of this work! even in the times when it seems like there's not much happening.
also it was sister brown's birthday on sunday! she is SO SPOILED. :) our ward mission leader fed us dinner that night... they asked sister brown what she wanted and she said cafe rio. ha. so they made us homemade cafe rio!!! man, it was SO GOOD!! :) (the best thing about going two by two is that when your companion gets spoiled, you get spoiled too. :) ) AND they made this huge white cake with raspberry filling. mmmm.... (and here i am complaining about the need to lose weight... ha.)
lesson of the week:  2 nephi 9:29: to be carnally minded is death, and to be SPIRITUALLY MINDED is life eternal. i've realized, a few times now, that even on a mission, when you're about the lord's work 24/7, it doesnt come naturally to be constantly spiritually minded--its something we have to work toward. and unlike what i thought before my mission, i still won't have perfected it by the time i go home--turns out a mission isn't like some poof of fairy dust that magically makes you who you want to be. :P but it sure does get you closer, so long as you're willing to work at it. :)
think that's it for now! I LOVE YOU!! hope you have a great week!
sister madsen

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"for of such is the kingdom of god..."

dear everyone,
okay. I LOVE KIDS. and i love that i get to work with them now! yesterday we did a family home evening with a sister who is working on coming back to church (and her two kids--her husband is not a member and wasn't there... but hopefully we can start teaching him soon). her daughter's name is emberly. she is the SMARTEST 6 year old i have EVER met. i couldn't believe my ears. she can read scriptures. like right out of the book of mormon. every word. and when she doesn't know a word she sounds it out and says it perfectly the next time. she can read scriptures better even than some adults i've met! and she has the cutest, biggest, cheesiest smile you've ever seen. i should have taken a picture... next time. anyway. i just might have this woman raise my children. :P
so we taught the lesson on the plan of salvation, and we used a white board. we had a cut out of a sun to represent the celestial kingdom. after the lesson, emberly wanted to draw pictures on the white board, so we erased it all and she started drawing. a couple minutes later, she had drawn a huge sun with 5 people standing inside: her, her brother, her mom, her step dad, and jesus. "look! we're in the happiest place," she said. she totally understood that only in the celestial kingdom do we get to live with our families, and with christ, forever. and then before we had to go, she said, "okay, i'll erase it for you..." so she started erasing, but didn't erase it all the way.  "i figured you wanted me to leave jesus," she said. (yes, she really used the words "i figured.") :) :) gah! i love this! i love kids! i love the gospel! i love the plan! i love teaching the plan! 
other than that, there's not much else to report... sister brown was sick this week. :( this was the first time on my mission i've ever stayed in because of a sickness... she was throwing up all day saturday and recovering sunday. i learned two things: 1. that i hate having to stay home--i get so itchy to get out and be a missionary 2. that i like taking care of people. there's just something so fulfilling about taking care of someone who's sick. why is that? :) haha she was so surprised that i was willing to clean up her throw-up for her... good training to be a mom, we decided!! :P (sorry that's kinda gross to write about.) but she's feeling much better! 
lesson of the week: repentance is a constant process. sometimes it can be annoying because we have to do it so often. but if we're not doing it, we're not keeping our covenants. and if we don't keep our covenants, we don't get our promises, and we're not happy. "Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest." (alma 12:34)
i love you all!!
sister madsen