Monday, July 24, 2017

It is Finished

Two years ago.........I walked slowly off the plane as everyone was filing out. Carry-on in
hand, we all walked almost aimlessly as we looked for the baggage claim. 
Following the crowd, I eventually got my two pieces of luggage and wandered my way to customs. We all moved our way to the line that looked never ending. 
Thoughts racing through my mind of what to expect, 
I start to notice everyone around me and realize I am very much the odd one out. 
White shirt, tie, and a suit. 
Unsure of my true purpose, I finally grasp that I am a missionary. 
The only missionary in sight. 
Thoughts of having to be able to talk to random people about
something so special to my family begins to overwhelm me. 
I push the thoughts aside, then realizing there is a 3 person gap in front of me.
I grab my luggage and move 3 steps closer to the unknown.
Processed and cleared, 
I grab my last luggage off of the X-ray machine and move towards the
only doors that look plausible to go through. 
Maneuvering through the over crowded airport I see an
Hispanic man holding a sign that says "MTC." 
I wasn't sure if that meant something different in Spanish
but I sure knew what that meant in English. 
So I made my way to him. He enthusiastically shook my hand and began speaking to me in Spanish while pointing to a place where I could sit down. 
Understanding nothing he was saying I sat down. 
Then he took my luggage and walked off returning to his original location
holding the MTC sign. 
I looked around and found myself alone again.
Surrounded by many but feeling unimportant to all.
This was the beginning of an unknown road that I knew God needed me to take. 
Trails faced, lessons learned, experiences had, friends made,
there are so many things that God has helped me do and experience.
Serving as a full-time missionary has been one of the greatest things
I have been able to do in my life. 
The satisfaction of focusing all of my efforts on learning important truths, teaching the gospel, and
helping any person I see is so amazing! 
My perception of what a mission was going to be like was completely wrong
when I came out on my mission. 
And I'm glad it was wrong because the mission was so much 
Very soon I will be entering another airport. 
Except for this time, I know my purpose. I am a child of God. 
I know that I am loved by Him even when I am amongst hundreds of strangers and 
I feel as if I am lost in the crowd. 
No matter how alone you feel or how far you have
been wandering there is always someone waiting for you to lead you in the right direction. 
When you receive the guidance you need you may
not understand fully, but doubt not and act. 
He will always lead you safely to where you belong.

You all are amazing and I thank you for all of the support you have given me. 
I love my Savior and I love my mission. 
As Friday arrives I will be ready to dive right in and love my new life.

Love you all and I will see you on the flip side!   Elder Odland

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Mission has been the BEST Two Years of My Life.

Farewell Fiesta with The Andrade Family

Sometimes the motions get you caught up and you find yourself going
from activity to activity not realizing the time that has been passing
We laugh, we work, we play, we even sometimes have pain, 
but at the end of each day we always come away learning something. 
But how often do we realize and take note of that thing we have learned? 
More times than naught we find ourselves in a stagnate pool waiting for
something to happen when in reality if we would just start swimming
we could reach a whole new part of our life. 
Being a missionary has taught me how to swim. 

If you know many things about missionaries that may

sound very contradictory, but entertain the analogy. :) 
The past two years I have experienced the effect of pushing myself to reach the

next step. There are many times that I have failed, but each time I
have had loving peers that have helped me get back up and keep me going on my path. 
Without Faith or Hope I have no idea where I would be. 
I have been able to accomplish so many things that I wasn't sure I
would be able to. And It all has happened so fast... As I checked the
mail this week and opened a letter addressed to me, I found myself
holding a flight itinerary and a letter explaining my departure.
Things become a lot more real when you are holding a piece of paper in
your hands that show the time you will see your family again.

The end will come as it is inevitable, but I will always remember all
of the sweet and special moments I have had on my mission. 
And some of those happened just this last week! 
I'll give you a little rundown!

After Natalie and Dwane were baptized last week they began preparing
to go to the temple to do Baptisms for those that have passed on. We
had the awesome privilege to go with them and see them do the baptisms
and confirmations. Also I was able to be the proxy for 5 people and
that was the first time I had been completely submerged in water in 2
years... crazy huh! Haha  :). 
It was an awesome experience though and
I'm so glad we were able to go!

There also was a big temple day this week. Mac from one of my last
areas was taking out his Endowments and Tony, from one of my last areas
was too! There were so many people from the Raytown Ward
there at that endowment session. It was so great to see so many
buddies again. Even Patrick Murphy was there! It was definitely a
special day to be a part of!

Also this week we had another sweet dinner with the Andrade's at a
Mexican Restaurant called Ted's. It's probably one of the best in
Missouri! And they somehow convinced the people that it was my
birthday and so they put a nice sombrero on my head and sung to me!  :D
 It was so great to see them again and we had a blast! 
Love you Andrade Family!

This week went by super fast and I'm sure this next week will also. 
Get ready world because you've only got a week and a half to prepare for
John Odland haha:)

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Keep on loving life!
with Love, Elder Odland

Free Snowcones for Missionaries

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Always Remember and Ask Yourself, Who are You Living For.....Live For Christ

This week was definitely one for the books!

A 4th of July BBQ at the Cooley's home was a blast! 
They made these things called Senora Dogs, which are
basically hot dogs wrapped in bacon and you put every imaginable topping on them  haha. 
They were amazing. We then got to watch the family set off a few fireworks
and then we drove home in what seemed to be a war zone haha. 
I have never seen so many fireworks going off
all around me in my life! It was definitely a fun night!

This week we had a half mission conference to get to know our new Mission President and his wife and establish some expectations. It was great! Just the day before we had
our first MLC with President Love and it was an awesome experience.
President Love truly lives up to his name haha. 
He and his wife will be a great benefit to this mission and to the missionaries serving here. 
After the half mission conference, we got to feast on some
awesome cookies and visit with each other for a little bit! 
There were some of my past companions there and its always a blast seeing those
good guys! All of our Zone wore red to the conference and so we got a
sweet picture outside the temple with everyone. 
There are some awesome missionaries out here. 
Stellar examples and amazing friends. 
One of my favorite parts about the mission is getting to meet these amazing
servants of the Lord.
The Incredible Liberty Zone

Natalie and Dwane's BIG day arrived on Saturday! 
When 1:30 rolled around we were able to have a wonderful baptismal service for Natalie and Dwane.
They were so excited to be baptized and take this next step! 
The youth organization got both of them brand new scriptures with their names on them. 
Dwane was literally so happy he didn't know what to do.
Seeing the joy on their faces is something that I'll never forget.
Being a part of these important steps of these important people's lives is one of the best parts
of being a missionary. 
The Lord truly led us to knock on their door when the time was right
and He helped them gain a testimony of the reality of the gospel. Their journey has
been great so far and does not end there. ETTE. Endure to the End!

I could probably stop there and that would sound like an amazing week,
but there is more! 
On Sunday they were confirmed members of the church
and received The Gift of The Holy Ghost. And after being interviewed
and sustained, Dwane asked me to ordain him to the office of a priest!
So I had the honor to confer upon him the Aaronic Priesthood and
ordain him to the office of a priest. It was an awesome experience!
Natalie and Dwane both are progressing so well in the gospel and have such pure hearts. 
And as if things couldn't get better, Elder Reber
and I will be able to go to the temple with them this Wednesday to do baptisms!

Heavenly Father is continually blessing his children and we all play a
small part to bring those blessings to them. 
Keep loving and living life, but always remember and ask yourself, who are you living it for?

Have an amazing week and I know this week is going to be another week
for the books so be prepared for another lengthy email haha. 
Love you all!
Elder Odland
 MLC with President and Sister Love

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Lord Always Knows what He is Doing and Has a Plan for Everything

Today we are having a fun 4th of July themed Pday at Brother Russell's
house and we are grilling up some brats and hamburgers! 
I hope you all have a great time like we will for the 4th! 
Keep loving and living life with all that you've got. 

This last week was pretty great!

We had some great lessons with Natalie and Dwane this week and they are so excited to be baptized. On Sunday we had a lesson with them and they were cheering because their
baptism is in less than a week. It has been so cool being able to
teach them and see them have spiritual experiences. The plan is for
there baptism to happen this Saturday. So I will send some pictures of it next week!

On Sunday morning we had our Stake Correlation with President Love and
the Stake President and it went really well! It was exciting to meet
President Love for the first time. He is just a nice jolly older man
that is ready for the work! I'm excited to get to know him more during
these next couple weeks. And I know that the mission is in good hands.
The Lord always knows what he is doing and has a plan for everything.

We began teaching a new couple this week! The husband is a member and
the wife isn't. She is super interested in the church and in the
doctrine we believe. She has been attending church with her husband
for a year or so but just hasn't taken the next step. But now she
wants to dive in and really learn what it's all about! They are the
coolest couple and are great to teach. It makes it so nice when the
people you teach are easy to relate to and you feel comfortable to
share experiences from your own life. 

with Love,
Elder Odland
An AWESOME day at the Temple

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trust in His Promise and Let the Blessings Flow

The work out here keeps on getting better and better!

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about sacrifice. It was great
to ponder on the sacrifice of our Savior and what He did for us. 
I truly believe that as we come to know more about His sacrifice it is
easier for us to make the small sacrifices that He requires of us. He
only requires us to do things because He wants to bless us. 
Trust in his promise and let the blessings flow!

On Friday we had a sweet opportunity to be part of a youth conference
that came down from Iowa! Elder Reber, Sister Dawson, Sister Orton and I 
got to hold a mission prep class for the youth. We had 4
groups that we taught and it was great! 
    We got to share with them what helped us prepare for missions and answer any questions they
                             had about missions. There were some stellar youth in those groups! 
I wish I was half as good as some of those kids before my mission haha. 
But hey I'm living proof that you don't have to be
perfect or a scripture wizard to go on a mission! 
We got to eat lunch with the youth and the sisters afterwards and we were 
blessed with some delicious smoked meat  :).

This week I got to do probably my last Baptismal interview... it
was such an awesome one though! There is a man named Derek that some
Elders have been working with and he is so prepared to take the next
step with his relationship with God. We were able to go to his baptism
on Saturday and it was a great spiritual experience! We brought 2 of
our investigators with us to the baptism and we think they enjoyed it!
They both started talking about all their war stories together after
the baptism so it was a great time for them to bond! Then as we were
riding home with one of them and a member, 
he stopped at Culver's and bought us all ice cream!

This week for youth conference the stake went on a trek! And Natalie
and Dwane were able to go. They had such an awesome experience!
Before trek Dwane was a little unsure if he believed in God. But on
Sunday when we were talking to him about how he liked it, he said it
was so amazing! And that he is an 80 on his conversion scale of (1-100)
and he was only a 12 before he left. He is so pumped to keep learning
                        and be baptized in a few weeks! Natalie loved trek as well and is moving
smoothly towards her baptism!

Keep on loving life and I will talk to you again soon!
Have a sweet week!

With Love, Elder Odland


Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Tribute to President and Sister Vest....Thank You so much.

My mission president, President Vest and his wife, Sister Vest 
have done so much for me on my mission 
and am so glad I was able to serve with them
for almost my entire mission. 

President Vest has taught me so much about leadership
 and being submissive to Heavenly Father. He has helped me learn so many principles that I know will help me throughout my whole life. 
Both President and Sister Vest have helped me overcome some of my trials during my mission and I hope that I can help others 
in a similar way as they have helped me.

President and Sister Vest have sacrificed so much to serve here in 
The Missouri Independence Mission. 
I am grateful for all they have done.
 As they soon leave to return home and as I prepare to head home next month, I want to give them a big heartfelt THANK YOU. 
You have changed my life. 

with Love, Elder Odland

Monday, June 19, 2017

Farewell Elder Merrill and Elder Bagley. Hello Elder Reber

This last week with transfers some changes happened that I didn't expect! 
So Elder Merrill actually got transferred out and I will be staying in North
Kansas City until the end of my mission! I got that wish of mine to stay, but
it was hard to see Elder Merrill go. We learned so much together and
we were having a blast being goofy hard working missionaries. 
Now we are on to learning new things and having new experiences. 
(You're the bomb Elder Merrill!)

So my new companion is..... Drum Roll Please..... 
Elder Reber from Gilbert Arizona! He is a super fun guy and
we have been getting along great. He will be a great companion for me
to be with for my last transfer!

Just a few days ago at transfers my trainer, Elder Bagley, completed
his journey out here in Missouri. It was so weird to see him head
home. He has been in the mission during my whole time here and we had
been fortunate to see each other at MLC each month for the past year.
He is such a great example for me as someone who follows their sincere
desires to do what God wants. 
Thank you Elder Bagley for training me right and being a buddy until the end! 
(And yes that means your still
my buddy cuz there ain't no end #ETERNITIES)

So we have made some great progress with Dwane and Natalie! We had
challenged Dwane to have a question while he reads and he has been
doing it! His question was, Will I ever know that there is truly a God
out there? And when we had our lesson with him this week he was like,
"Elders, my question has been answered!" 
While he was on a campout with the young men he left his scriptures outside of his tent 
and a huge rain storm came. The only thing that wasn't soaked by the water
was his scriptures and he was so amazed! It was a little miracle that
he needed to know that there is a God out there. He also was saying
that he loves reading the Book of Mormon. He says he isn't sure why
but he just feels good when he does so. He is like halfway through 2nd
Nephi by the way! So Natalie and Dwane are doing awesome towards their
date of the 8th of July! I am so excited to see them continue to
progress and learn about their Savior.

Our other investigators are doing great and I am so happy I am able to
spend one more transfer here in NKC. The people and the members here
are amazing. And, Yeah I'm gonna keep on working on it right up until
the end! I'm excited to see the miracles that come.

I hope you all have an amazing week and keep blessing the lives of
those around you!

with Love, Elder Odland

Monday, June 5, 2017

It has been Fun to Grow and Learn True Joy! AND a Special Thank you and Farewell to President and Sister Vest

I hope you are all having a wonderful start to your week
because I know I am ...and as missionaries we have our pday!:) 
It's funny, after you have been on your mission for a considerable amount of time
you find more consistent joy in your normal days than you do pday... Don't get
me wrong I love emailing my friends and family and playing a good game of bball. 
BUT.....what can compare to simply helping others all day? 
Not much really.
It has been fun to grow and learn how to experience True Joy!

This was another banner week! We had some great lessons with some of
our investigators, had zone conference, did some service for some members... 
ahhhh it was GREAT!

Let's start with Zone Conference!

This Zone Conference was the last one with President Vest as my
mission president... That is a hard thing to grasp for me as he has
been my mission president since I started my mission. Envisioning the
mission without him is pretty hard... But I know that President Love
will come in with a burning desire and really give this mission what
it needs. President Vest and Sister Vest went through their experience
as they were called to lead this mission and it is amazing how they
are prepared to come lead a mission. And the craziest thing, President
Vest only got to sit down with the previous mission president for
about 2 hours before everything was turned over to President Vest...
Sounds a bit daunting huh!? I know I would be just a tad nervous! 
The Vests have such great testimonies
and it has been the best experience to rub shoulders with President Vest so much
during my mission and especially this past year. 
He truly does care about each missionary so much and is willing to do so much for each of us. 
I was tired after our 6 hour Zone Conference... but he has to do 4 of them back to back
across the mission!! 
He has led by such a great example for me and I
hope to model many things in my life after him. 
Thanks President and Sister Vest!  :D 

Ever felt like you were going through something that was very
difficult? Or that you are facing something difficult in the future? 
We will all face difficult trials in our lives. 
Always remember...

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2
 Corinthians 4:17

God has all intention to bless us. 
He works in His time, His way and by His power. 
Simply trust that God is there and is teaching you with every step of your life. 
Each step sheds new light on the staircase leading to eternal life. 
He wants us to have the blessings that He has, just as every father would. 
Always remember that He loves you!

I am blessed to be a missionary at this time and I'm soaking up every
minute of it. I hope you enjoy some of my little experiences and
things that I have learned. You all have a wonderful week and think;
Who are you going to bless this week?:)

Love, Elder Odland

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

God Never gives us feelings of Fear.....Fear comes from a different source.

There is so much to love in life.
Never let fears or trials overwhelm you.
God gives us so much to be thankful for each and every day.
As we see that... our joy keeps on growing and the light we see in our life
will rise until it is a perfect beautiful day.

Many times the spirit will guide us to do something but we are afraid to act. 
God never gives us feelings of fear
Fear comes from another source... Satan will implant any thought that will deter us
from blessing others. Always push out fear with your faith that
Heavenly Father will take care of you. 

He will guide you in any righteous action you are doing! 
Always remember that He loves you!

This week was so sweet!
I feel like the Lord is blessing us so much here in NKC.
I'm grateful I get to play a part in what God has in store for people.

The people we are working with are doing so well! Glen should be
baptized within a week or two, Al has read up to 2 Nephi 30, and the
Beckwiths are already planning to go on some campouts with the youth!

So much has unfolded this week that is just another sign that this is
God's work and he will bring his children in once they are ready!

And since little girls are always mesmerized by the missionaries hahaha...
I'll tell you another funny experience.
There is the cutest little girl named Ana-Leah and we were doing service for her Dad
and she kept coming up to us to try to give us hugs... and eventually just hugged our legs.
Her mom tried to explain that missionaries can't hug
children but she didn't really understand. Ana was like, "what?? Will
they be able to when they are older??" And we were all like, "Yeahhh we
need to grow up about two more years then we can hug you!"
She wasn't too satisfied with the answer and then she changed the subject.
She then came up to me and started asking me, "Are you married yet??" hahaha
Ana then spent the next good while talking about how she is only a
princess and will become Queen once she is married in the temple!  :)
I thought it was adorable.
She is definitely one of the cutest kids I've ever seen.

Saturday the ward had a BBQ and it was great! When we showed up it was
raining a tiny bit but we were hoping it would just pass by but it
ended up raining pretty good hahaha. We have been anticipating this BBQ
for a while and invited all of our investigators to it! ANDDDD we had
8 non-members come!! It was so awesome! Glen was able to come and had
a great time getting to know the members. Al came and talked to almost
everyone haha, he is quite the talker. The Beckwith family came and
had a blast! It was the most successful ward activity that I have ever
been to and the members were all over getting to know the people we
are working with. It was a great time overall and the food was
delicious of course!
Beautiful Storm clouds

So we thought Saturday was great and then Sunday came...
Toni and the Beckwith family all came to church and they had such a great time.
The Beckwiths are an awesome family! They have a young man and a young woman
aged kids and they are so excited to get involved with the youth!
It has been such a blessing to work with these awesome people and help
them take steps in their conversion. This ward is so awesome and I'm so
happy to be serving here. God puts us where we need to be, either to
help someone else or to teach us something.

Love you all and hope you have a sweet joyful week!

 Elder Odland
Our NEW investigator!  :D

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Skyping Home and Hearing the Lord thru 3 x 5 cards!!

It was SO GREAT to Skype home for Mother's Day....Love you Mom

Thanks to the McCalls for welcoming us into their home
so we could have access to the internet so
we could Skype our Moms.

There is a recent convert in our ward her name is Jillia and she is
super cool! She is Sister McCall's sister. 
She has been going through a hard time lately.
Well, as we were cleaning out our car we found a stack of 3x5 cards that were
addressed to Jillia, written by friends and family at her baptism! 
She was baptized 7 months ago! 

So we went and took them to her and she was so excited. 
She had no idea that they had been written and
she just had so much joy reading these little encouraging messages
from those people that she loves. 
It was a great little tender mercy to be a part of!:)

I'm so grateful for all of the blessings Heavenly Father has given me.
I am going to keep on counting them the best I can.... 
That's when the joy comes!

Have a wonderful week!
Elder Odland

Mother's is the rest of the 3x5 story from Sister McCall....

 These two are extremely fun together, in the door picture....
 they had just stopped by to drop off some index cards they found in their car. 
The cards were notes members and family wrote for my sister on her baptism day. She is older than me and just got baptized last November. She had been struggling and feeling discouraged. 
Finding these cards and notes of encouragement could not have come at a better time. 
Your son and Elder Merrill literally brought an almost tangible Spirit when they brought the cards. 
It was indeed a tender mercy moment that was felt by all in our household. 
Then of course we had to end it on a bit of a fun goofy note as they were leaving 😊.
Thank you for sending your son on a mission! 
Not too many missionaries attend to the recent converts as I've seen Elder Odland and Elder Merrill do for my sister (including myself when I was a missionary). 
Loraine McCall