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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

yay!! my family came!! :D

dear family,
i had some great experiences this week, the BEST experience, of course being a certain family that visited me on sunday.... :D uncle steve, aunt jamie, austin and ryan!! oh my word i can't even describe how happy and excited i was to see them. my heart was just overjoyed!!!! :) :) :) they took the tour with me (steve and jamie even took it twice so that her parents could see it too) and we had a blast, they all loved it! i'm tellin ya, it's the best place ever. ;) and they told me you all are doing great!! so that makes me very happy. thanks soooo much, again, for coming, you guys!! that will forever be a highlight of my mission! i love you!!
oh, and guess who else showed up on the same day? citlalli munguia! she was my first visiting teaching companion in the east bay 3rd ward! heavenly father spoiled me that day. it was great to see her. :)
another experience was with an investigator who decided not to get baptized. his name is brian, and even though he's legally an adult, his parents have banned him from ever associating with the church--since he lives under their roof and they pay for his tuition, he doesn't have the heart to go against their will. :( he knows it's true though, so he says he'll do it once he's independent of them. they think we're a cult and that we've brainwashed him. they refused to have anyone come over and explain anything about it. so as of now, we're just going to meet with him every couple weeks and try to keep his faith strong... he has to do it behind his parent's back, though. it's tearing his family apart, and he's really struggling with it. anyway, on friday, we met with him. here's my journal entry about it:

I just had a really neat experience. We were on shift at the battalion tonight, and I had forgotten that Brian Wu was going to come visit while we were there. So I was sitting in the back trying to think of what to teach or share with him, when all of the sudden I looked at the security monitor and Jason was on the screen! (He's my ward mission leader. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what he was doing there... I thought maybe I had forgotten about a meeting or something.) He and Josh (my other favorite ward member) showed up because they were just looking for something to do on a Friday night and decided they'd come watch the Joseph Smith movie. Ha. So it was perfect timing, cause we had Brian and them watch it together instead of teaching him a lesson... and the spirit was so strong. After the movie ended, we all just sat there in the quiet... and then we spent a few minutes just talking reverently. We hadn't started with a prayer or anything cause it wasn't really a lesson... but I felt like we should close with one, so we did. Even after the closing prayer, no one wanted to move... they still just sat there, even though all three of them had places to be. Eventually Josh said, "Well, should we go?" and Jason replied with, "Aaww... do we have to?" 
"I know!" I said, "there's such a peace in this room, it makes you not want to leave." Even when they did get up, they just lingered... they looked around at the paintings of Christ, quietly talked about them and asked me which was my favorite... until they EVER so slowly made their way out of the room and down the hall... they just loved feeling the spirit and didn't want to leave it! It was fascinating to feel/watch. It was super good for Brian, especially, since his parents have banned him from being baptized. :( I've never had such a powerful meeting with him... I could tell that it touched him, and he really needs experiences like that. Heavenly Father is SO good. He knew where Jason and Josh needed to be at that time, even though they had no idea they were part of His plans. I'm so grateful for that meeting tonight! 

we also had the annual commemoration of the mormon battalion this week! every year on the last saturday of january, the san diego stakes put together a huge celebration in old town state park. all of the missionaries dress up as battalion members and do a parade, and each stake is in charge of a booth: doll making, dutch oven cook off, brick making, clothes washing, quilting, and much more. there was a lot of performances, too, and one 12 year old girl played the fiddle like you wouldn't BELIEVE. and we got to be a part of it! we went around and chatted with people around the square... we had the best costumes, of course. little did the visitors know that we wear them everyday. haha. so it was way fun! it was rainy that day, though, so they didn't have as many people show up as usually come... we only had six hundred something at the battalion, and usually on that day they have like a thousand! crazy. but it was a blast.

also, denise has made so much progress! she's joshua's girlfriend, the one who got baptized on my birthday. i cant believe how the gospel has changed her, and just in like two weeks! she used to be such a shy, kind of depressed, insecure girl... there is such a light in her now! she is the sweetest thing i have ever met. her prayers have changed drastically--they're just so sincere, and she's so grateful for how this gospel has made such a difference in her life. i love her with all my heart. she is such a testimony to me that this is NOT MY WORK. i have nothing to do with the change in her. it is ALL heavenly father... i just get to be a part of it. and it is amazing. AND... she's getting baptized on saturday! pray for her, please! :)

love you all. keep up the work of the lord--it's the best work ever! ta ta for now.
sister madsen

Thursday, January 24, 2013

welp. 7 months down. STOP MOVING SO FAST, TIME!!!

so sunday, the 20th, we're driving in the car and i hear sister miller make a sound like she was disgusted at something. i asked her what it was, and she said, "oh, sister davies just texted us... something..." it still wasn't clicking in my head. (sister davies came out at the same time that sister miller and i did, btw.) finally she just told me.... "she texted us 'happy seven month mark.' i didn't want to remind you." hahaha. it tends to be that i like to celebrate month marks and she LOATHES them because it means time is slipping away! well. this time i felt a little more like her!! where is my mission going?? yikes. is it bad that i never want to come home?? (don't worry daddy, i will...)
this was kind of an uneventful week. well--that's not right, exactly. a lot of good things happened. and that's just it: lately i've felt like my area is doing so well that nothing stands out that i want to write about... kinda like the whole "opposition in all things" principle. when everything's going good, when there's not the hard things to contrast the miracles, i don't feel like my emails are very exciting to read. ha.
i did go on another spanish exchange this week, however! and i actually spoke spanish! usually i just listen, but i really spoke this time. not like full-blown conversations, but little ones. :) it was fun!! the first lady we taught was a member, and she fed us home-made mexican food. mmmmmm. :) (i hardly ever get fed at member's homes--i prefer it that way, but on the rare occasion that i do, it's SO YUMMY.) after that, though, we were having a hard time because we were knocking on a lot of doors and no one was answering. eventually we just went to another member's house because she had a referral for us that she still hadn't followed through on. miracle of the night: 5 minutes after we showed up at her house, the referral herself walked through the door, and we got to meet her and set up an apointment with her to teach her sometime. :) heavenly father is so smart! if we hadn't been knocking doors for that first little while, the timing would have been off! crazy how that works out. after that we were pretty much out of other people to visit, but i had sister hall choose a random less-active's name from her list because we still had time to kill... and we got in to his house for the first time! they'd never actually had a lesson with him before. he kept giving us all these excuses about how he hates reading and that's why he wouldn't read his scriptures--not that the scriptures were the problem, just that he hates reading in general. (oh, by the way, we were speaking english at this point because he knows both languages--that's why i was able to help.) so i finally asked him to hand me his smart phone... on which i downloaded the gospel library, and said, "see this 'play' button? if you push it, it will read the book of mormon TO you." after that, he didn't have anything to say. his excuse was foiled. ha ha. it was funny. hopefully he'll listen to them now. :) (oh and this one's for you dad--when we showed up at his house there were like 10 people there watching seinfeld. and i thought of you. :) ) so that exchange was the highlight of my week, i guess!
taylor, paula, and denise are doing great. their progression is slow, but it's coming. they're dependable--they come to church when they say they will and they show up to their appointments. they've never really been spiritual people, though, so it's new and awkward for them, but they're willing to try it out, and we're happy about that. :) we finally saw paige again after like a month--she'd been on a trip for a while. we ended up having a kind of "do or die" lesson--we told her there wasn't anything else we could really teach her, and that it was up to her now to act. (john 7:17.) i really love paige... she's one of the those that i've kind of gotten attached to. she is so sweet and has such a good heart... she's just in a terrible situation, and she keeps using that as an excuse. :( my heart hurts for her. also, after an AMAZING law of chastity lesson with cody--he was all for it, and even his girlfriend thought it was inspired--we lost him again. that kid is going to be the death of us. he gets us so excited about his progress and then he disappears! however, we're not worried that somehow heavenly father will place him in our path again. he always does. :)
hope all is going well in zero-degree utah. :) i was walking around in a short-sleeve shirt yesterday... not that i want to brag or anything. :)
i love you!
sister madsen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

strolling along...

dear family and friends,
it was a great week. we had two full days in our area this week, and we taught six whole lessons on the first full day, only to be surpassed by NINE lessons on the second one! nine whole lessons in one day?? that's unheard of. just to give you an idea, the mission standard of excellence is 3 lessons a day. and we taught 9. :) it felt so good. heavenly father sure helped us out. it was a day full of miracles, that full day... yesterday, actually. the first miracle was when we were driving down the road and we saw a man with a little cart fall down on the corner. we pulled over and rushed to help him up... he was okay, he just has bad legs and got tripped up. he was probably in his fifties. the cool thing was that another car had pulled over to help, too--it was a little asian man who could barely speak english. so picture this: sister miller, as thin as a board, on one arm, and this tiny asian man on the other, pulling this big black man (probably like 6'2") up off the sidewalk. :) it took them a bit, but eventually he was back on his feet. he was so grateful, he was almost crying... and he kept saying, "god bless you, and i REALLY mean it." he even pulled us in and kissed the top of our heads. like 30 seconds later another guy ran up to us and offered to give him a ride wherever he was going... "i can even throw your whole cart in the back of my car," he said. yes, there are STILL GOOD PEOPLE in the world! :) it was a neat experience. and even though we didn't walk away with a new investigator, all three of those men will remember the experience they had with two random girls with little black nametags on. sister miller calls it "running the lord's errands." we're here to bring others unto christ, and sometimes that doesn't mean teaching and baptizing--all he needed from us at that moment was to be his hands as we helped that man on the corner.
the second miracle was another "errand." we went to contact a former investigator, but he wasn't home. sister miller likes to talk to heavenly father outloud sometimes... so she said, "alright heavenly father, we're supposed to be in this area for a reason, so we're just gonna pick a way to walk." i saw a man about a block down--he seemed to be the only human being in sight--so that's the way we chose. :) welp. turns out he was a member of the church. HA. however. he was extremely less-active. we had a great conversation with him, and though he wouldn't commit to coming back to church, he did say he would dust off his book of mormon that night and read some, and that we were always welcome back to his home. heavenly father is SO GOOD. he knew exactly where we'd be at that time!! but it gets better.
the third miracle was a long chain of events. we had set up a lesson at the temple with one of our investigators at 7:30, only to remember two days later that the temple is closed on monday nights. so we tried to move it back to the church building in our area for the same time. but he said he'd rather go to the battalion, so that meant that we pushed the appointment back to 8, which left us an extra half hour in our area at 7ish. so we were driving around contacting again, and we picked a random less-active name on ward list. we were on his street, but it was dark and we couldn't see the numbers, so we just parked and decided to walk, even though it was FREEZING. (okay--not compared to utah, but i was still whining about it. :P) well... we walked down the street til we found his house, but it was completely dark and nobody answered. we were pretty much out of time by that point, so we just started walking back... with four minutes left, sister miller talks outloud again and says, "okay heavenly father, we've got just a few minutes, if there's a single human on this deserted street that we can talk to, i'll talk to them." we get back to our car, and across the street was an open garage that wasn't open before. we looked inside, and wouldn'tcha know it, two single-adult people are sitting there, just chillin. we started talking to them, and once we got on the subject of a modern prophet, the boy seemed interested... he said he wouldn't mind learning more sometime, but then the girl starts spouting off all these excuses about how they're leaving for costa rica soon to expand their business. "what's your business?" we asked. "it's a skin care company," they said. right then sister miller looks over at a random box sitting in the garage with the company logo on it... one that looked strikingly similar to our seacret box which is sitting under our sink at home that had been given to us by a member of our branch. "is the company seacret??" she asked. they said yes... welp, turns out they're really good friends with that branch member--they work together. and they absolutely love him. once we said his name, it was like we were best friends. they said they'd love to meet up with us (and him) sometime so we could talk more. oh, and the garage they were sitting in? they don't even live there. that was his dad's house.  ???  so. to recap: we weren't even planning on being in our area at that time. we wouldn't have parked anywhere NEAR that garage if we could see the numbers on the street. we had a 4-minute-window of opportunity. they just happened to be visiting his dad's house at that time, they just HAPPENED to WORK with JOSH, and now they're willing to hear more about the gospel. yup. my mind was blown. it was RIDICULOUS... heavenly father is SO GOOD!!
so... being a missionary is SO COOL. that's pretty much all. i love you so much. hope you've had a great week.
sister madsen

it's me again :)

hi everybody!
sometimes i wonder what on earth i did to receive the blessings i do. actually, i wonder that a lot. we saw so many miracles on sunday (and throughout the week)!! it was ridiculous. actually, i really kinda felt bad--like guilty because i was receiving blessings i didn't deserve! ha. let me lay it out for you: last week had a big fat ZERO in our "investigators who attended sacrament meeting" column. ouch. :( then all the sudden, people just started popping up out of nowhere! it was like magic!
1. joshua's girlfriend, who has taken a while to warm up to us, agreed to finally meet with us so we could teach her. we added her as investigator. and she was at church on sunday (which wasn't abnormal for her, she's come a few times).
2. we went to contact a former investigator and ran into her neighbor, who we had also run into last time we went to this girl's house! this time we actually had a good long conversation and he said we could come back. chalk up another investigator added.
3. the elders called us and said there was a marine who was looking around at churches whose sister had just been baptized. they gave us her number and we met with her this week. she wants to learn more. AND she came to church the next day. AND she came to FHE and loved it. that makes for 3rd new investigator this week.
4. some random kid, who also happens to be a marine, just showed up at our church building on sunday. he said that he recently decided he wanted to do something more with his life, and he grew up in ogden, so he knew about mormons... so he just looked up our church building and came to sacrament. ??? AND he also attended FHE and had a great time. (are you still counting? that's FOUR new investigators in ONE WEEK!)
5. cody, this boy that keeps disappearing and then showing up again--we literally have just found him on the side of the road like 4 times--popped up again as we were driving down the street this week. i'm telling you, heavenly father wants to baptize this kid so bad. we always lose contact with him--he hasn't had a cell phone for the past while, and he got kicked out of his house, so we couldn't just show up there anymore. the only way we can ever find him is when heavenly father randomly places him in our path. he only came to church one time, like over 2 months ago... but after talking to him on the side of the road (he FINALLY got a phone and gave us his number) he agreed to come to church again (which wasn't abnormal--he would always say he was gonna come and then never show up). welp. guess what? he actually came to church this week.
6. brian wu, who took like one lesson from us but decided he'd rather learn from the missionaries in another ward where his friend was, decided to be baptized... however, since he is technically in our boundaries, president said he cant be baptized into the other ward. so. we just have a baptism falling into our lap that we didn't do ANY of the work for. ha. apparently his testimony is strong enough that he will be baptized into whichever ward the lord would have him attend, because he, too, came to our ward on sunday, even though he'd so much rather be in the other one.
so... just to recap... we went from zero to FIVE at church in one week. that is HUGE for us. i think that's the most investigators i've ever had at church at one time. :) sister miller and i were a little frantic, actually!! there were so many people to talk to and keep tabs on and only two of us!! we were outnumbered. ha ha. cross my heart and hope to die, we didn't do ANYTHING different this week. that's why i feel like these blessings are coming from nowhere. i'm just way too lucky, i guess.
so that was pretty much my week. did i mention that i love being a missionary? :)
hope you're all doing wonderful. i love you.
sister madsen

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

boy my life is just too great :)

hi!!! so many great things to tell everybody in so little time! (so i decided to give up on proper capitalization. it takes too much time.) :)
two greatest pieces of news:
joshua got baptized on my birthday!!!! :D :D :D aaahhh! it was so great. he is the biggest miracle i have ever seen. the service went wonderful... he had like FIFTEEN nonmember friends of his show up!! it was awesome! hopefully we'll add one or two of them as investigators soon... especially his girlfriend denise, who has been to church with him the past three weeks and has slowly warmed up to us. :) convert one, convert hundreds! the service went really well. i felt the spirit so strong... it was actually kind of funny, though, because we moved rooms in between the opening part of the program and the actual baptism--during the move it got a little noisy, and also we were trying to stall because another investigator of ours was on her way to watch, so we announced to everyone once we got to the font room that we would be singing another song to "invite the spirit back" (it really was 50 percent of the reason)... :) so we sang "i know that my redeemer lives" (which the pianist chose--thankfully its on the longer end of songs) and right before the last verse she showed up!! haha. but really... joshua is amazing, i'm so glad i got to be a part of his conversion. he is a totally different person than the he was the day we met him!! (actually, i don't remember if i mentioned this, but he pulled out a switchblade on us as a joke the first time we stopped him on the street.... ha.) best birthday ever, you ask? YES! :) AND we added an investigator that day. AND all my sisters sang happy birthday to me at exercise that morning, and my companion made me breakfast with ":) (happy) birthday" written in mustard, and so many of my sweet branch members gave me cake and presents and birthday wishes... i am way too loved! it was a wonderful day.
second piece of good news is that SISTER MILLER AND I DIDN'T GET TRANSFERRED!! transfers are tomorrow, but they always tell us the day before whether or not we'll be leaving the area. :) we are so happy!! we get another transfer together! she is too fantastic, i am the luckiest human ever (as she would say.) i can't believe it though--i've been in my area longer than almost all of the other battalion sisters currently serving (meaning that 4 transfers in one place is quite a while... and i'm going on my fifth)! i love my black mountain branch. it's going to break my heart when i have to leave this area.
sister ortez finished her mission last week. she left the day after my birthday. :( i was pretty sad. actually, we had FOUR sisters leave--four of our strongest, most diligent missionaries at the battalion. two of them were our trainer sisters (kind of like zone leaders for the sisters at the battalion). guess what that means?? we're getting two new ones... and anyone could be next! also, the oldest sisters in the battalion now are only 9 months old!! we're all babies, and we're running the place by ourselves! crazy. it may be mayhem for a little while around here. ha.
guess what else we got to do?? last preparation day, we were going to go bowling, but the bowling alley failed us... so we were thinking of something to do, and i remembered that one of our branch members, who's like a pro ice skater, said we should go to his rink sometime. i highly doubted we would be allowed--there's a long list of activities in the white handbook that we're not allowed to do, and ice skating is similar to a few of them--but we called president, and miracle of all miracles, he said we could go! i went ice skating in sunny san diego!! :) haha it was SO MUCH FUN. i loved it.
last night we had to be in by 6:30 for new years eve, and we told to use our time to set goals and make visions for ourselves, our companionship, and our area. it was actually pretty eye-opening. i have a hard time recognizing ways that i've really changed as a person out here... i can recognize a lot of areas that i've improved in as a missionary, but that's a little different (although they are connected). anyway, i prayed for help to recognize some ways that i've changed as a person since i've come out here--after all, a third of my mission is over!! what??--and i was surprised when i made my list. all of them were things that i hadn't really thought about changing in myself (i mean, when i thought about the ways i wanted to change on my mission before i left). so that was kind of cool. but also it was a huge wake up call to the distance between who i am and who i still hope to be before i come home... a lot of the things i've been wanting to change about myself haven't changed yet. so i wrote a lot of good goals. they're so much easier written than accomplished, but hey, we gotta start somewhere. :) some of the things i want to work on is more sincere prayer and scripture study, submissiveness to the lord's will, and a stronger relationship with my savior/better understanding of the atonement. (luckily, all those things tie together/affect each other. :) ) i hope you all have made good goals, especially in regards to the gospel.
anway, it has been a great week! even though we're pretty short on solid investigators right now... i have seen so many tender mercies. so i am happy. :)
i love you all!! happy new year!
sister madsen