Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mon., 12/25/2017  (Neuland)

Merry Christmas everyone! What a week! I'll keep it short and sweet because I don't have much time! It feels like yesterday that I was in Juan de Salazar with Elder Bridge, sick as dogs but grateful for our Savior's birth. Elder Bridge was a good example to me that Christmas, giving a talk even though he really shouldn't have gone to church he was so sick. It reminds me of what our Savior did for us, many years ago. He didn't deserve all the treatment he received, but he suffered it out of his love for us. In his memory we celebrate Christmas every year, in every part of the world, in every language of the world. Seeing Elder Ruiz's face when he got to talk to his family for the first time in 5 months was another testimony to me, about the family. CHRISTmas is for Christ and families, so think about those things for a little while! Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pics: (YAY!!!! Elder Olson's brother Mike helped his mother download pictures!  She will work on adding pictures to all of the other pictures from the other blogs!)

1: Paraiso AKA African Safari

2: Merry Christmas from the Neuland Branch (maybe it wasn't a white Christmas, but it was cloudy! That was a Christmas blessing!)

3: With Family Duarte from Paraiso. They're recent converts and ALWAYS go to church, no matter if there is rain or heat or whatever in Paraiso!

4: On the way to Abundancia to Skype!


We got picked up by the 2 Elders from Filadelfia in their truck and they dropped us off in Abundancia, where we have our skyping. As I write Elder Ruiz is next to me doing his skype call. His family hasn't been able to email him at all, so it was awesome seeing him able to talk to them. Christmas is a time of miracles!

Monday, December 18, 2017


Mon., 12/18/2017 (Neuland)

Well y'all know the routine, not much time but we'll make it quick. We have hit some warm weather, and when I mean warm, I mean warm! A few weeks ago we had hit 53 Celcius one day, well we passed that and hit 55 Celcius this week (that's about 130 degrees Fahrenheit)! Let me tell you, that's a blessing because we can see we're being protected by God. I mean honestly, we walk around outside all day in a shirt and pants sharing the gospel. (The houses here aren't big enough to go into, so all of our lessons are outside!) The fact that we haven't gotten dehydrated at all is plain evidence of divine intervention. The Lord protects his missionaries! Neuland really is a super cool place.
Fun stuff that happened this week: It got windy and a tree fell over so we helped our recent convert Nicacio cut it down! So much fun. Elder Ruiz found refried beans and jalapenos in a store in front of the house, so he is jumping for joy! He loves his Jalapenos (imported from Mexico). WE cleaned the church! Still no roof, but one of these days! Sunday in church was realllllllllllllly good; well only 17 people showed up because it was voting day and that's a universal excuse to skip church, but those that went were great! Sunday school went well. Today for Pday we watched a movie called Errand of Angels about a sister missionary in Austria. I thought of Mom (Happy birthday by the way!). Also, I translated since nobody else here speaks much German. The Zone Leaders came up to do divisions tomorrow with the Elders in Loma Plata, so we played soccer, 5 on 5. This week really went by quickly. We are getting to Christmas, one of my favorite times of the year! It's going to be a fun Christmas, and I'll be able to talk to the family this week, so exciting! I hope you all have a good week, and go serve someone for me! Light the world with your examples!


1: Contacting in the German village Neuendorf! Not too many people talked to us, but it was fun!

2: We made it to the end of the Neuendorf road and took a pit stop in the shade. Man it's hot here!

3: This picture shows grass! I haven't seen grass in a looooooooooong time!

4: There's the tree we took down!

5: Mexican food!

6: Our clean chapel! You can see at the back where there are just plastic flaps where the roof was. Honestly its kind of cool having a chapel that doesn't have a full roof

7: If y'all hadn't heard, Sam Jorgenson got reassigned and his mission touches mine! (He was scheduled to go to the Portugal Lisbon Mission but because of Visa difficulties for all missionaries was reassigned.) Actually it touches my area, Neuland but that is just because my area is HUGE hahaha! But it's cool that he's going to be my neighbor here in South America.
(Elder Olson's mother talked to Elder Jorgenson's mother on 2/10/2018 and he was yet reassigned to the Lima Peru Mission and will fly out next week. He entered the MTC knowing he would go Spanish speaking but not the destination! They will both be able to speak to each other in the same language upon their return from their missions!) 

That's all! Have a good week!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Neuland and a little humidity!

Mon., 12/11/2017 (Neuland)
It's been another week here in Neuland. There is always something to learn from being a missionary, whether it be from conferences, companions, people, or whatever! This Tuesday we had Zone Conference, which was great! It was a little different this time around than normal, because they used a lot of visual examples. Normally we read a lot of scriptures and learn in kind of a class setting, but this time we were out and about, including sanding and spray painting blocks for kids to play with, relay races, a few videos, and to wrap it up a white elephant activity! We learned a lot about service, and also enduring to the end and never letting up. There were a lot more things we learned but I can't write them all because there isn't time! It went a lot longer than normal, but it was okay because we had a lot of fun. Monday evening we had received the news that we were supposed to get white elephant gifts (our district, the Chaco always gets news a little late), so we had to go find gifts in Asuncion that are worth 2 dollars (approx) or less. I found a nice pair of duck swim goggles for about a dollar, so I got those (hopefully the recipient can be protected from soap in his eyes while showering! We got Mexican food for dinner (Elder Ruiz approved), then got on our colectivo home. The rest of the week not too much happened, just working with the people. Sunday we had a really good day in church; 40 people came in Neuland! That's the most I've seen here in my 4 months! I gave a talk and led the music, then we taught Sunday School. After church we had a small capacitacion meeting with the branch President and Secretary. Were excited to be here helping the people in Neuland! I have been able to learn a lot about myself and my companion this week! We are preparing a lot for the coming week; hoping to make it even better than this week! I have learned a lot about attitudes, and having a positive mentality. If you have a positive attitude, you can do all things, but if you are pessimistic or don't have faith, it holds you down, and can to others too! But if you have a positive mentality you can raise others up! Please go look for someone else to lift up! This world has a lot of people that are sad but don't need to be sad! Show them the light! Light the world! I hope y'all have a great week!

Pictures:  (Elder Olson's Mom:  Pictures 9-12 refused to be uploaded once downloaded.  Sorry!)

1 Painting blocks.

2 same

3 Elder Ruiz from Mexico, with Elder Mejicanos.

4 Elder Tesucun and those he trained (or finished training) in order 1 2 3.

5 The recipient of my goggles: Elder Castellaw from Virginia! Someone else from the southeast, finally! He knows what Cookout, Bojangles, NC barbeque, and all that good stuff is!

6 It was multizone this conference, so I got to see Elder Cartagena!
7 The Zone (new name change) Limpio A. Interestingly, there are only 2 Hermanas in the whole Zone!

8 Elder Ruiz really wanted the sombrero picture!

9 At 8.30 pm there's our temperature.. it's hot and right now, HUMID!

10 Sunset!

11 We got a fridge!

12 The trees here are fat!

(Elder Olson sent these on 12/18 but they look they are from Zone Conference, so they are being added to this blog.)


Q:  What do you use for music at meetings?

A:  We use our portable DVD player with a speaker to play CDs of the songs.

Q:  Was the roof ever replaced that flew off during that storm?

A:   The roof still isn't on. 

Q:  You mention several towns in which you work and serve.  Do each of them have a branch of the church?

A:  Neuland is a Branch with Paraiso being just a group.
Abundancia has 2 branches (1 for Spanish and 1 for Nivacle).
Filadelfia is a branch, with Loma Plata as a group.
There is also a branch called Mistolar that has a group called Campo Ampu, but they only receive occasional visits from the missionaries.

Q:  What did you do for Christmas last year and what are your plans this year?

A:   I was in Asuncion for Christmas last year. Here they just have a cookout I guess. 

NEULAND PART 4... No roof yet but a lot of people at church

Mon., 12/4/2017 (Neuland)

Here I am again in Neuland for my 4th change here! It's been a busy week as usual. We started out with changes. Sunday we received the call that Elder Castañeda was getting transferred. President had already told us that that was the 99 percent probability, since we had been together for 3 changes (4 months). Monday night we took a colectivo to Asuncion, where we waited for changes. Elder Castañeda went to Horqueta (an area close to Yby yau, my old area), and will be finishing another Elder's training. I received Elder Ruiz from Mexico as my new companion! He was born in Tijuana, but has lived most of his life in Durango, Mexico. We were supposed to go back to Neuland on a colectivo that night, but there was a problem with the schedule and the office Elders got us to the bus stop a little too late, so we stayed the night and took a colectivo to Filadelfia at 6am the next day. Wednesday night we were able to get back to our area. We spent the rest of the week showing Elder Ruiz around. Neuland is his 2nd area in the mission, and he has 4 months here in Paraguay. He's excited to get back to work, and it's going to be a good 6 weeks. Sunday we had church, with a solid 32 people that came. A lot of people bore their testimonies, and it went really well. Everyone's been asking when we will sing Christmas songs, so we sang a bunch during Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School (we're now up to 2 hours of church these days, which is another advance!). We worked hard these last few days and Elder Ruiz has been working so hard to get accustomed to life here in the desert! He even has a couple of blisters from us walking too hard! hahaha It's a little different here in the Chaco. He is excited and willing to learn English, which is also awesome. Last night we took a colectivo to Asuncion for Zone Conference, which we will have tomorrow. We got in around 4 am. This morning we had interviews with Pte Evans. My interview with him went well. Its always great having a 1 on 1 with President Evans, because he has a lot of great ideas and support. He is definitely called of God to help us. Other than that, that's my week! Thanks for the emails and prayers! Make sure to be reading scriptures, praying and go to church!

Cool facts about my new companion
1 He's from Durango, Mexico.
2 He's 26 years old and is a convert, the only member of the church in his immediate family.
3 He's been companions with Elder Baez and Elder Tesucun.
4 He knows how to cook Mexican food like tortillas.


1 With Elder Ruiz, my new companion! Well the other photos aren't working, but I'll try sending some more if I can find out how they work!

2 Out here in the middle of nowhere.

3 Terere (crushed up plants and water) is pretty popular here, even the babies drink it!

4. Digging a trench for service project.

5 Fun stuff really, digging trenches.

6 The banner for Neuland's Weihnachtsmarkt aka reading the story of Christ's life in German and singing a lot of Christmas songs.

7 Elder Ruiz wanted a photo in front of every possible sign that says Neuland.

8 The kids like cards.

9 They like them a lot, and run at us yelling tarjeta! We stop them for a second, and teach them basic things like showing a picture of Jesus Christ and teaching them his name, then give them their tarjetas.

10 Literally every sign in Neuland. hahaha

11 That sign is kind of cool too.

12 There's a map of Neuland too, its kind of small.

13 Neuland has 2 names- I like this one better but I guess nobody else does.

14 Elder Ruiz cooking chile relleno.

15 Elder Ruiz really likes granola, so we had some bowls after church on Sunday. Cool fact- here everyone fasts from lunch to lunch, not dinner to dinner. Its actually a little more practical.

16 With Elder Ruiz, Elder Brower and his new trainee, Elder Peña from the Dominican Republic (he reminds me a lot of Nic Clements) during changes.

17 So there's a place half a block from the mission office that's a food court, and there's a really good Mexican food place called Pinche Cabron (that is a phrase that in some other Latin American countries is/could be considered vulgar, but it's got good food so the Chaco district always eats there when we go to Asuncion. We went to the food court to grab a bite to eat, and an Asian guy walks up to the food truck, and tells the guy he was going to pay for everyone there- a bunch of starving missionaries. It turns out he is a member and works at the US embassy. He's an MVP, because we all ate free. What a nice guy.

It's Rain in the Chaco.
Well that's the week, have a great one all of y'all!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mon., 11/27/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

Sorry everyone! We don't have much time today, and the computers here in Abundancia are sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. Anyways I'm glad I have a little time to write. This week was a bit slow with Elder Castañeda and I at the hospital with a shoulder problem he had. We also went to Paraiso this week from Friday to Sunday. Imagine a community of about 85 houses in the middle of NOWHERE, and everyone decided to leave for the weekend and not tell us so we were in the middle of a ghost town for a couple days!! A few people stayed home to play soccer all day Saturday, so Sunday we had 10 people in church. Kind of a bummer but it was awesome and here's why:
1-We taught Isabelino and Adriano how to bless/prepare/pass the Sacrament and they did it this week!
2-For the first time ever we had Sunday School in Paraiso.
3-These members hardly even understand basic Spanish but they read their scriptures, pray and go to church>>>>> that's a lot of faith!
4-One of our investigators and a couple recent converts from Paraiso went to church in Neuland.
5-Not a very large percentage of missionaries get the opportunity to preside and/or conduct Sacrament Meeting.
6-Well this is in Neuland, but since I lead the music I get to pick the hymns! I always pick really good ones that only I know, and then they learn the songs! They're learning so many hymns, its awesome!
7-These people are really so humble its great!

We received change news, and I will be receiving a new companion here! It's kind of sad that Elder
Castañeda has to go, but we have been here for 3 transfers together. It was a good 3 changes, and I think I'd describe it as Pte Evans said this week; we were a "Dynamic Duo." I think Dad, Steve and Davy will get that reference! Thanks for all your prayers and emails! Have a great week!


1 Elder Castañeda and some meds from the doctor.

2 Sunset in Paraiso.

3 from Left to Right- Adriano, Silvestre, Isabelino, me, Elder Castañeda, and Donatelio

4 Fun times in Paraiso! We did have 10 people (and 3 dogs) in church. It all worked out though because someone took all the seats while we were gone but we recuperated [ibid] 12 in total so there were enough.

And #5- Do yall remember when we were at the temple the other time with a lot of people, when I had to go to the hospital? Well heres a picture I finally found! Im at the back on the right


Mon., 11/20/2017 (Neuland/Paraiso)

This week has been a really busy one, and I don't have much time so I'll make it quick. Last Monday after writing home I got a little sick, and as such the rest of the day and Tuesday we were unable to do anything. Wednesday and Thursday we went ham in Neuland as usual. Friday Elder Whipple and Elder Parker came for baptismal interviews, and Saturday we had the baptisms of Fredalia and Feliciano. It was a big day and here is why:


1 As usual the guy with the water came hours late so we had to postpone the baptism, but we did get to watch Mormon Messages with all the people that came and it was awesome.

2 Fredalia understands everything we have taught, and is pretty far into reading the Book of Mormon. She even marks her favorite scriptures! Her grandpa is a member and helped us teach her.

3 Feliciano is also a cool guy. He used to have a lot of bad stuff going on in his life, but is now sober and learning how to be a better dad and teach his sons!
4 Y'all remember Nicacio, our convert that got baptized last month and went to the temple? Well he got the priesthood so he could go to the temple, and we asked him to baptize his brother-in-law, Feliciano. We turned to the page in Doctrine and Covenants where it talks about how to baptize, and guess what? He already had it memorized! Great guy, They were so happy. Us too!

During personal time we also watched the last part of The Testaments (where Jesus Christ comes to the Americas) in
Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Finnish, Mandarin, Russian and English. Believe it or not, we as usual felt the overwhelming feeling of love and testimony for the people we are serving here every time we saw it. Even in Mandarin when we understood 0% of the words, we still were able to feel that testimony of Christ. I encourage you all to watch that movie and reflect on the fact that what happened really did happen, and you don't have to rely on my words. You can pray to know it's true, and God answers prayers. I hope y'all all have a great week!