Only 9 days left here! I can’t believe it. It feels like we’ve lived here for about a year already so it’s weird that next week is really only the start of my mission. I’m nowhere near confident in Spanish or my teaching skills, but I can’t wait to do some real work. We have 4 investigators we are teaching lessons to now, and it’s kinda difficult to focus on each of them. Even though two of them are another companionship in our district and the other two are our teachers and we know they all already have the knowledge of the gospel, we still take it very seriously and it’s amazing to see how much we start to genuinely care and pray about these “investigators” to come closer to Christ and gain testimonies of His church. It scares me a little to think about how much pressure I’m going to feel to do everything right when they are real investigators who are actually searching for the truth in their lives. So it’s started to hit me this last week how hard missionary work is, but I love it so much. It’s amazing how fast the Lord is “hastening his work.” We had the opportunity to listen to a speaker yesterday at devotional who works for the media communications department of the Church, and it was amazing. He introduced a lot of the new campaigns that the Church is doing in London and New York to help inform people about what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really about, instead of letting rumors cloud their vision. It’s really amazing the feedback that they’ve gotten and how people’s perceptions of the Church have changed just by getting information from the right sources. He told us how they’re doing some trial runs with missionaries in Great Britain by allowing them to use Twitter and other social media sites to answer people’s questions and get referrals of people who want to learn more about the Gospel. He explained how all of the work he does with media communications is proof of the work being hastened and how awesome it is that we have the opportunity as missionaries to be a part of it. I really do feel so blessed to be a missionary at this time. So much is changing and it’s really exciting to watch it all happen. This week I think I’ve caught my second wind and I’m absolutely stoked to give my whole heart, might, mind, and strength to the work of the Lord. I’m almost out of time, but no e-mail would be complete without the funny moments that remind me just how much I love my district. This week’s funny spotlight is all on Elder Fa’asa. Is anyone surprised? One day my companion and I had left the room and came back to find that Elder Fa’asa had used my lip gloss. Yeah. When I asked him about it he denied it at first, but it’s become pretty easy to recognize his guilty/lying face, so I kept asking him until he admitted that it was just lying on my desk (no it wasn’t, it was in my bag), and his lips were really chapped (then why didn’t he use his chapstick?), Elder Anderson told him he could (no he didn’t), he used his finger (guilty/lying face again), and he put it right back when he was done (then how did he find it “on my desk” and put it back where he found it in my bag?). Yeah. It’s about 20 times funnier with a picture, so I’ll try to send one later with him and his shiny pink lips. I’m probably going to have to do situps or something when I leave to make up for all the ab-workouts I won’t be getting from laughing so hard when our district is all split up. Well, my time is almost gone, so I’ll talk to y’all next week! Be safe. Love y’all.
Pretty much I’m at the MTC at the best time possible. Easter was last week and this weekend was General Conference. It was amazing. The Spirit here was so strong. Pretty much all we did Saturday and Sunday was eat, watch conference, eat again, watch some more conference, eat one more time, then talk about conference and go to bed. It was so great though. It was really easy to pay attention to the messages of the speakers and to get a lot out of it, because everyone else wanted to listen just as much. Our teachers encouraged us to go with questions written down that we wanted answers to. I’d never done that before, but after this Conference I seriously recommend it. I got answers in one way or another to every single question I came with. One answer came in the exact wording as the question I had written down. Pretty amazing stuff. We all got really excited when the numbers were read that we have over 65,000 missionaries right now! How awesome. Many speakers mentioned the prophesies of old being fulfilled as we are bringing the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people like a “stone cut out of the mountain without hands.” It’s truly a blessing to be part of that fulfillment. I also found that a major theme of this Conference was obedience. My Branch President says, “Obedience brings blessing. Strict obedience brings miracles.” I really believe that. My favorite talks were Pres. Henry B. Eyering’s and Pres. Deiter F. Uchtdorf’s. If you missed either one of them, PLEASE go back and read/watch it. It’ll be worth it. Promise.
After General Conference ended yesterday we were able to have our Sunday evening devotional with very special guests. Drumroll please…..BYU’s Vocal Point! I was so excited. They came and sang a few songs and gave a little advice for our missions as they are all RM’s. It was pretty great. It made me really want their new CD, but unfortunately the bookstore here doesn’t sell it. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you definitely should. So moving on before I turn into an infomercial, did you see that the combined BYU choirs sang at Conference?? How awesome is that! However, I was really hoping that the MTC choir would sing. Kinda ironic that as soon as I leave the BYU choir to sing in the MTC choir they get to perform for Conference. I was a little jealous, but then I got over it and was just proud. It was so awesome. Everyone here was so impressed at how good they sounded. That’s right. BYU choirs are pretty much just the best. And I hope ya’ll remembered that they did a feature on the MTC choir in between sessions and you watched/recorded it! They didn’t show it in the overflow room we were in, so I didn’t get to see it, but I heard it was good so I hope you were able to! Anyway, I don’t have much time left so I’ll just get onto the funny stuff before I go. Featured this week in our memorable quotes corner is, Elder Fa’asa, Elder DuFour, and Elder Jefferson. First, E. Fa’asa came into class one day with a rubber snake. When asked where he got it, he replied, “I made a friend in the hall and she gave it to me.” He called it, “the serpent on the mount.” Haha. We had a good laugh about that. Then we heard a girl in the hall say, “where is the Elder that stole my snake?” Ha. We made him give it back. Then, Elder Jefferson, in an effort to keep our classroom sanitary and germ-free, opened the door to sneeze outside in the hall…just as two sisters were walking by. Oops. Last but not least, Elder DuFour, while attempting to thank another district for the use of their classroom, tried to say “gracias por su cuarto,” which means, “thank you for your room,” but actually said, “gracias por su cuerpo,” which means, “thank you for your body.” Thank goodness they were Korean speaking. Yep. Gotta love District D. We’re getting closer and closer to our departure date, so pray that we learn everything else we need real soon! I love ya’ll. Thanks for the letters and support. I hope you have an awesome week.
I’ve just been informed that my Spanish is so stinkin’ good that they’re sending me straight to the field tomorrow. Actually, April Fools. I probably could have come up with a more believable fib, but my Spanish is still super rough. And I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks, but at the same time, I can’t believe I’m already half-way done with the MTC and will be leaving this month! We got a new district in our zone this last week and my whole district was wondering: “were we that lost when we first came?” But they’re really nice and they’re already a great addition to our zone.
This week was pretty rough for me. We received a new investigator named Walter. He doesn’t talk much, and our first lesson with him was a complete flop. We really struggle coming up with the right things to say and ask the investigators, so it’s really tough getting to know them and forming a relationship. It was no different with Walter. We had planned on spending most of the time getting to know him so we could get a grasp on his “hook,” or what would really catch his attention about the gospel. Because we didn’t know what his needs were, we figured we would kinda wing it and make up a lesson according to his needs as we found them. So yes, you read right. We didn’t prepare a lesson. We went in for the first lesson and just couldn’t seem to get anything out of him. I was really struggling with the language that lesson, probably more than I have in any lesson so far. I just could not seem to say anything that made sense. Finally I gave up and we left the lesson without teaching him any new doctrine, without finding our how he felt about religion or God, leaving him with any committments or anything to think about, or most importantly, without bringing the Spirit. We basically just wasted 20 minutes of his life and the Lord’s time. I think I hit a low after that. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Why couldn’t I remember anything I had learned? I’d always done my best to be obedient to the rules, and make the most of my study time, and always prayed for the Spirit to guide me. It was a really rough few days. I was so frustrated and couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. Then one of the teachers, who was actually not even my assigned teacher pulled me aside, and after letting me blubber to him for a little while, kindly explained that it wasn’t about me. The most important thing I could do in a lesson was not to know how to teach the lesson in proper Spanish, but to bring the Spirit so that the investigator could start to make his/her own relationship with God. He chastised me a little bit for being prideful, which was a shock to me because I thought, “how on earth am I being prideful when I am so low?” But he helped me realize that pride isn’t always thinking you’re better than everyone else. It’s thinking about you more than everyone else. After that little wake-up call I tried my best to turn myself around. My companion and I prepared 139873456 times as much for Walter’s second lesson. We planned for days before the appointment. We spend every extra second planning and praying for Walter. We even finished our meals early in order to prepare for it. And it totally payed off. We went into the lesson yesterday with 20 minutes worth of material prepared about the Plan of Salvation. It was a dang good lesson if I don’t say so myself. We prayed earnestly before going in that we would know what he needed to hear. As soon as we got in we got to know him and his needs and we didn’t give up until we finally found his “hook.” He completely opened up to us and it was amazing. So while my companion was saying the opening prayer, I silently prayed again to know what to do. I remembered that verse in D&C that explains how we can know something is wrong because we will have a stupor of thought. After that, I could not remember a single thing I was supposed to say in our lesson. I panicked for a second, then the story of Alma the younger came to mind. I had no idea why. But as soon as the prayer was over, I told him that we had prepared to teach him about the Plan of Salvation, and we still would like to, but for this lesson, I felt it was more important to talk about prayer. He then opened up about how he didn’t feel good enough to pray to God because of all the mistakes he had made in his life and how God didn’t want to hear from him. Then I shared the story of Alma the younger and read the verses about how he was delivered from his guilt-by calling on the name of the Lord. He thought about that for a moment and said that he thought he understood. Then he asked, “Do you think God can forgive me too?” We wanted to cry we were so happy. We then explained about repentance and how we can be clean from sin. I shared a scripture from Mosiah 26:22. After reading it, he said, “So I can be clean by being baptized?” Then my companion and I looked at each other and she asked him to follow the example of Christ and be baptized. He explained that he didn’t know everything about our church, but he knew he felt good when we talked and that he wanted to be clean again, so he would really like to be baptized. So we promised to help him prepare for it! He was so excited. And I finally felt that joy that comes from bringing someone joy. Amazing. I want every lesson to be like that. I know that we were blessed in that lesson because we prepared so hard. Even though we didn’t use anything we had planned, we showed the Lord that we were serious and he blessed us with revelation when we needed it the most. So this week was great. Also….yesterday was Easter! We had a pretty great day hearing messages about the resurrected Christ. Our district read the last few chapters of Luke together and the Spirit was so strong. It really testified to me that Jesus is the Christ, and that he atoned for my sins and rose again the third day so that I can return to Him again. What a blessing to know this! Sheri Dew came and spoke to us in the evening, which was also pretty great. She is such an inspirational woman. The MTC is just so great! Well I’m pretty much out of time, but before I close, I just have to share the funny quotes from this week. There are lots, but I’ll share my favorites. Whenever someone says something sassy to Elder Fa’asa, he replies with the warning: “Hey Elder so-and-so (usually Elder Anderson), why is your eye black?” Ha it would be really scary since he’s a huge Samoan guy, but he’s such a teddy bear that everyone just cracks up. Then, I came into a conversation between Elder Jefferson and Hermana Joven and the wrong time, and heard Elder Jefferson say “yeah they’re like, my kids.” If I had been eavesdropping sooner I would have know he was talking about his sisters, but then I asked him “How many kids do you have?” and he replied with, “6.” Ha we got a kick out of that one. For clarification’s sake, Elder Jefferson is not and had never been a father. And last one. Elder Jefferson had gotten into a habit of saying “En farto. Es Verdad” to everything. We asked him what he was trying to say and he said it meant “In fact. It’s true.” We were pretty sure “en farto” didn’t mean in fact. But he said he heard it on a spanish tv show so it had to be right. So after asking a few people, we actually found out that he had been going around telling everyone, “Heart attack. It’s the truth.” He was sooo embarrassed haha. Good thing practically no one here actually understands enough Spanish to know that his new catch phrase was heart attack. Ha. Anyway, I love my district.
Well, that’s pretty much all I have time for this week, but there will most definitely be much more to share next week! I hope everyone is doing well and I can’t wait to hear back! Love y’all!
This week was another long one. 16 hour days really take it out of you. Like I think I mentioned in my last e-mail, we started with our first investigator, Joel, last Friday (not even a whole 48 hours after arriving). We taught him a total of 5 lessons before committing him to baptism. Funny story about that actually. So we’re expected to teach the lessons in Spanish. Obviously. My companion understands quite a bit more Spanish than I do, and has got the whole native accent down already, so I always sound like a gringo whenever I open my mouth. But I try my best, and with a lot of help from the Lord, the message usually gets across. So in our very last lesson with Joel, we had planned a whole lesson about the Doctrine of Christ. I was actually doing pretty well with the language so far in the lesson, and we were feeling pretty confident about him accepting our invitation to be baptized. So I was finding him a scripture to answer a question he had about why he had to be rebaptized if he had already been baptized in the Catholic church. While doing this, we were trying to explain to the best of our abilities that Christ has commanded us to follow him. He agreed with this, so I went on and asked him why he thought we had been commanded to do so. He said “No se,” so I said something like “esta bien, puedo explicar.” I was trying to communicate that Christ was perfect, and that He was the ultimate example. But instead of saying, “Cristo es el ejemplo mejor,” I said “Cristo es el ejemplo mujer.” So he got the message that instead of Christ being the ultimate example, He was the ultimate woman. I didn’t realize my mistake until my companion leaned over and corrected me, and we all busted up laughing. Joel was crying. Usually that’s a good thing for an investigator, but it was for the wrong reason, so it doesn’t count. It took us a good five minutes to get back on track. After apologizing profusely, we learned that Joel was actually our new teacher, and he was an investigator first so he could get to know us and our needs better. Which made the whole situation all the more embarrassing. My district still gets a good kick every time someone says mejor or mujer, which is actually quite often, so I don’t think I’m going to live it down any time soon. But I agree, it was funny. But the good news is, we committed him to baptism! That’s all that matters right? I really have learned so much already here. Our new teacher went on a stateside Spanish speaking mission too, and he told us that we already speak better Spanish than some of his companions that he had in the field. He even called us fluent. I don’t know about that, but I’m starting to feel a little more confident that I will eventually be able to get this language. Our district is one of the only intermediate ones at the MTC now, and the only intermediate district that our branch has ever had. It’s nice that we’re able to move at a faster pace, but it also means that the rest of the zone expects us to know a lot more than we actually do. So I think that they’re learning incorrect Spanish when they listen to us. Our new favorite thing is taking English slang and translating it. Which, believe it or not, doesn’t work. Like, ever. Por ejemplo, some of the quotes this week include: “Tengo su espalda” (I got your back), “en su cara” (in your face), and “soy abajo” (I’m down). Also, I don’t think our sarcasm translates very well either. We’ve gotta work on that. But, the quote section of the week wouldn’t be complete without some of the “Idahoisms” from Hermana Joven. The spotlight of this week was, “You smellin’ what I’m steppin’ in?” Translation: Do you understand what I am trying to say? And then in Elder Fa’asa’s corner, we have, (talking to Elder Anderson) “Okay Katy Perry with your sun-kissed lips,” (then Elder DuFour is rolling on the floor laughing, to which Elder Fa’asa replies) “What? Am I your teenage dream?” He was on a Katy Perry roll at the moment. If you’re not laughing, I guess you just had to be there. Also, it may be way funnier to those of us who haven’t actually heard anything but hymns in the past two weeks. So, es cualquier. If you can’t tell, I love my district. We’re just like a family. We fight and pick on each other way more than we should, but at the end of the day when we all kneel down and pray, we all have the same purpose and love each other because of it. I promise I’ll send pictures of everyone so y’all can put faces to the names in the stories, but those will be coming later. For now, I’m about out of time so I need to wrap it up. I wanted to share just a quick little bit of revelation I received this week. After our teacher was talking to us about not getting down on ourselves because of the language, he told us that the opposite of humility is pride. When we think we don’t need God because we can do it ourselves, that’s prideful. But when we think God can’t help us because we are so lowly, that’s just as prideful. I spent the next hour of my personal study time reading every scripture I could find about humility. I came up with the general idea that humility is not believing that we are not good enough. Humility is letting the Lord lead us by the hand and having faith that He knows what is best. I know it sounds like a “duh” moment, but I had always thought of being humble as being brought so low that only the Lord could lift you higher. My perspective has changed a little bit now. I really liked the scriptures Ether 12:27 (my favorite), Micah 6:8, Helaman 3:35, and D&C 112:10. You should definitely read them when you have a moment. Alright well I’ve gotta go, but I’ll be writing again so soon. Thank you so so so much for all the mail! Keep it comin! Love ya’ll.
I LOVE THE MTC! It’s so great! The Spirit here is amazing. You almost have to try NOT to feel it. And there are so many missionaries here! We had 740 report on March 13. Aaaaaand…the percentage of sisters is now….drumroll please…50%! That’s higher than it’s ever been! Ever! And it was only 25% a couple months ago! It was pretty crazy when I arrived though. After we said all our goodbyes, I was quickly swept away to the main building where I received my nametags (yes Mama they’re magnets!), my key, ID swipe card (which we call tarjetas de swipey), my spanish books, and my host, who escorted me to my classroom, where my teacher greeted me in Espanol and immediately began teaching. It was all a little overwhelming at first, but it’s so amazing! My companion’s name is Hermana Hernandez. She’s great. She’s already way good at Spanish, so even though she reported the same day as the rest of the district, she’s leaving next Monday. So I’ll probably have to join another companionship in our district. Speaking of my district, I love them! We have so much fun together! But we have enough sisters to keep the elders on track, so we also get a lot done. We’re the only district in our zone that already know Spanish, so we have a pretty big headstart on the other districts, which is a blessing. Also, our district is the first in MTC history to have more sisters than elders! How exciting is that? We have 6 hermanas and 5 elders, but as soon as my companera leaves then we’ll be tied. Not that it’s a race… But seriously our district is the best. They’ve all given me permission to include their names and pictures in my blog, so I don’t have to come up with any pseudonyms. Although I did have some pretty good ones for some of them ha. So there’s one Elder, Elder Fa’asa (for a while we called him Mufasa, but our Branch President told us to stop ), who got put into the intermediate/advanced class by accident. He’s never taken spanish before in his life. But you wouldn’t know that until someone told you, because he’s learning so quickly. We’re pretty sure he’s either lying or has el don de linguas. His companions are Elders Anderson and DuFour, so we call them El Trio. The other Elder companionship is made up of Elder Jefferson, our DL, and Elder Sailsberry. Besides Hermana Hernandez and I, the other two sister companionships are Hermanas Young and Stevenson, and Hermanas Laudie and Trentman. So real quick I gotta tell you some of the funny stuff that goes on in D. The other night our Zone leaders asked us how we would explain Nephites to those who didn’t know what they were. Elder Anderson started hitting Elder DuFour with his knees. Get it? “knee-fights?” Ha neither did we for a while. The other day, we were going through the days of the week, and I accidently said Tuesday as Juevos instead of Jueves. FYI, juevos are eggs. Ha they’re never going to let me live that one down. And then the other day in our district meeting, Elder Sailsberry was trying to get to the bottom of a rumor that was going around the MTC about something (sorry I don’t remember what), and he begun his question with…”La palabra del calle es….” Hahaha that was hilarious. We never even got to the rest of our meeting. And as we were preparing to teach our investigator, Elder Fa’asa, when asked what he was going to share, said, “I’m just gonna bear my testimony and then amen it.” If you’re not laughing, wait til you see a picture of Mufasa..uh..I mean Elder Fa’asa. And last but not least for los momentos comica in our district, for some reason Elder Jefferson decided that whenever we saw another member of the district around the MTC, we would yell out “Chanchos!” to the other (or “chanchas” for the hermanas). This literally means pigs, so we get some pretty strange looks from people who actually know what we’re calling each other ha. But it’s all done in love. It’s seriously been awesome. But even though it’s been fun, it’s also been a lot of hard work. And I mean a lot. We taught 3 investigators in groups the night we got there. It was really frustrating because even though we were speaking english, I could tell that nothing we were saying was getting through. And we weren’t even here for 48 hours before we had to teach our first investigator. In Spanish. Yeah. Our lesson on Friday was a complete fail. I had a really tough time understanding anything he said. At the end, he tried to tell me that he didn’t know how to pray the right way, but I thought he said “muertos” somewhere in there, and I was ready to jump into the Plan of Salvation. Thank goodness I was so shocked I didn’t have time to open my mouth before my companion answered him. And we were so concerned about using the correct grammar to convey the message, that he didn’t feel anything. But we knew what we did wrong as soon as we left, so the next day, we tried to use as little notes as possible and rely on the Spirit to teach. It was amazing. We got him to pray at the end and the Spirit was soooo strong. I started crying as soon as we left. Even though he didn’t accept our invitation to be baptized yet, he did agree to come to church with us and we will meet with him again tomorrow. I had no idea we would be thrown into Spanish so quickly. But I’m pretty sure that in the past few days I’ve already surpassed everything I learned in the last three years of high school. And the Spanish we use on the mission is totally different that what I learned before. But it’s so amazing. Every day we pray for el don de linguas and I know that the Lord is blessing us because there’s no way we would be able to learn so much so fast any other way. Also, I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a week yet. Every morning we get up at 5:45 to go to early morning gym class, and don’t go to bed until 10:30 at night with no rest time inbetween. It’s true that days really do feel like weeks. I haven’t been here long enough to know if weeks really do fly like days, but we will find out soon! Well, my 30 minutes is almost up and I still have to upload pictures, so I’ll leave you with my humble testimony that I know this is the Lord’s work. This is His Church. I know that my Redeemer lives. He loves us and wants us to come unto Him. His love is the most important thing that we can have to share with other people. We can talk at them all we want, but until they feel Christ’s love radiate through us, our message won’t be His. I love all of you. I hope you are all doing well and I can’t wait to hear from you! Don’t forget–dearelder.com is a missionary’s 4th best friend! Miss ya’ll!