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