26 July 2016
Hello my lovelies!
Week 3 of my Missionary Training Center stay blew past so quickly! It's crazy how these last three weeks have simultaneously felt like three days and three months! I think it's simply because SO much happens in a a single day, let alone a week. I'm going to miss the people I've come to know and love here at the MTC... but I'm so majorly PUMPED to hit the field and teach the gospel to everyone! :D
So Wednesday, my companion and I studied with some of the Elders and we really bonded. It was incredible to see the testimonies of 18-20 year old young men and how strong they are. The Elders also make me laugh so much! xD I have come to re-realize that male members of the human race make a LOT more sense to me than their female counterparts (which is probably because of growing up with all brothers and a mom who grew up with all brothers)! xD Also, something that was such a major blessing is that Elder Bush in my district knows Sign Language!!! Talking with him this last week in Sign Language was wonderful because it made my homesickness level go down by a LOT (Mom and I sign to each other all the time and I hadn't realized how much I had missed that type of communication and her in general)! :)
That night I received letters from each of my parents. And those letters really strengthened me. It was such a testament to me, if my earthly parents know me so well that they knew exactly what I needed to hear, how much more does my Heavenly Father know and love me and knows exactly what I need to experience??? I'm so grateful for having such wonderful parents who work hand in hand with Heavenly Father to inspire me and lift me up when I need it. :)
Thursday was really wonderful for me! That day in Sister Gregerson's class she had us all go outside, be absolutely silent, listen, and record what we hear. Do you know how many things go on all around us that we don't notice simply because we aren't listening?? A lot apparently! Something else that I learned from that is that in order to truly listen, we have to listen with our eyes as well as our ears. When the Nephites heard the voice of the Lord they couldn't understand it the first time, or the second time, but the third time they looked to the source of the voice and they finally understood Him. I think a lot of times we don't see the ways that Heavenly Father and His Son are talking to us because we aren't looking for Them in our lives.
This week, but especially on Thursday, I have been studying the scriptures a lot in order to figure out what it means to be "valiant". This is what I've learned so far, PLEASE send me your thoughts or scriptures on what it means to be valiant. Valiant: courageous, dependable, having integrity, diligent, noble, upright, steadfast, firm, immovable, opposite of idle, loving God more than man. There's also been a phrase that keeps popping up in my scripture study of this word "right hand". So if you have any thoughts on this, send them my way because this is something that has really been on my mind. :)
By the way, I adore reading and studying the scriptures! There is nothing like opening them up and knowing that by so doing, I am spending time with three People who love me always! :)
Friday was CRAZY awesome! Friday was the day that the soon-to-be-departing missionaries got together for the In-Field Orientation. Holy cow, the Spirit was working overtime on Friday! One of the things that was really emphasized during this training was the phrase, "If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease." That's so powerful! In my own words what that means is, "Your expectations determine your reality". Wow. That still hits me every time I think about it! What we think about the future is what we will get. I'm still mulling over that nugget of wisdom!
To go along with that we talked about how as missionaries, as representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to expect miracles in our work. We are working side by side with Christ Himself and yet a lot of times us missionaries do not expect miracles! How ridiculous is that??? Just look at the story in St John 21! We can be fishing for hours and days and weeks and months and years by ourselves. But as we diligently work with Christ, all we will have to do is cast our nets where he tells us and we will not be "able to draw it for the multitude of fishes"(reference: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/21?lang=eng)!!! Take-away is: Trust in Christ=Expect miracles.
Saturday was super cool! I was in the TRC building and I saw one of my friends from BYU this past year, Harper *waves*! It was so funny because she was working as an investigator and I knew that I couldn't draw too much attention to her because I shouldn't blow her cover. :P But it was so wonderful to see her! Heavenly Father has been blessing me with seeing my friends because I have also seen Mason Tarwater (friend from home), Jeff Albee, Kenney Davis, Jerry Davis (all 3 from working at BYU last semester), Sophia, and Katie Ogden (friends from BYU ward)! *waves enthusiastically at all of you!*
So, Sister Vandervelde and I had been teaching Katie (TRC investigator) since Monday and she was really progressing and wanting to know the truth for herself. Saturday I felt so prompted to invite her to be baptized and after teaching her about it she agreed! It was so wonderful to be an instrument of the Lord in that moment and to feel the incredible amount of love that He has for her!
In class with Brother Gardner he had us do a self-evaluation using Preach My Gospel page 126 (I highly recommend doing this!) And good heavens, it really made me reflect on myself and how well I'm doing and things I need to work on. It was a really powerful moment where the Holy Ghost taught me some things that I should do in order to become a better missionary.
Brother Gardner also finally told us all who "Nathaniel" is (the investigator that he was pretending to be). And it turns out that it was someone that he had met with on his own mission. The story was SO inspiring! Nathaniel did end up joining the church and right now he is on a mission of his own! How cool is that???
During class with Sister Gregerson I simply daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to be companions with her, I love her to pieces! *waves at Sister Gregerson*
That night (since I was called as the music coordinator for my branch) I got the two districts who were leaving this week (my district and district 35-C) and lead us in the practice of "Come, Come Ye Saints" for a musical number the next day (since we were leaving and because the 24th was Pioneer Day.) Saints above, I can't ever remember praying for divine grace more than when I was conducting about 25 Elders and 4 Sisters (that is including me!).
Sunday came, like it always does. We two districts got up even earlier than our normal wake-up time of 6:30 am in order to practice for this musical number. Again, lots of silent prayers on my part. But Sacrament meeting came, and it went smoothly! It actually sounded really beautiful! Miracles do happen! And while I am grinning while writing this, I am completely sincere! How could two 45 minute practices with a bunch of rowdy Elders with unfamiliar accompaniment turn into a beautiful prayer to the Lord if not through Grace? Miracles happen every day. We just don't see them because we aren't looking for them or prefer to rationalize them away.
Sister Vandervelde and I taught Relief Society on Sunday about the Book of Mormon and that was fun as always. I love teaching! Some of you know this but when I get back from my mission I am studying to become a religion professor at BYU! I LOVE teaching the gospel!
That night for devotional it was a super special devotional!!! For devotional they had the Nashville Tribute Band come in! The whole night was just INCREDIBLE music and though-provoking spiritual messages! I disliked counrty music my whole life, but I LOVED the music that was played. I was sobbing by the end of the night! As I said in previous emails, we (the MTC choir) had been practicing three of the twelve songs they sang in order to sing with them! IT WAS SO AWESOME! OH MY GOODNESS!!! On a scale from 1 to 10 it was EPIC! With them we sang "I Was Born", "John's Song", and "When The Son of Man Comes Again". And then the main singer started speaking about where he served his mission! He served in the Nevada, Las Vegas mission! That's where I AM serving!!!! Then he sang a song about it and my emotions broke. That was just one more miracle that Heavenly Father sent me to show me that Nevada, Las Vegas is where I need to be! And then he had us sing the song with him! It was incredible! "The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do" is the name of the song!
Yesterday was exhausting in the best way! :D I felt the Spirit SO strongly, it was so wonderful! It was also a really bittersweet day because, while I am SO ready to hit the field and get to work, it was hard to say goodbye to the two best MTC teacher in the world! I am so truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from these two spiritual giants, they inspired me more than they can ever know! *waves to Brother Gardner and Sister Gregerson*
After dinner yesterday mine and a couple of companionships in my district wanted to sing "If You Could Hie to Kolob" an LDS hymn. But then it ended up turning into an impromptu hymn singing sessionwith everyone in our district and with Elder Hatton on the piano! We all got to the hymn "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" and we were all silent for a few minutes just pondering about what the words in the hymn meant to us. And then all of us began bearing our testimonies of the gospel to one another without any prompting from anyone, besides the Spirit. :) The Spirit was there with us SO strongly. Then we all began singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" it is so powerful to be able to bear testimony all together through song. We then knelt together as a district and said a prayer together. By the end of it we were all (Elders included) crying because we love each other so much and knew that the church is SO TRUE! :D We all knew it and we all loved knowing that we each know it!
I know that the church is true. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ restored the true church on the earth through their chosen prophet Joseph Smith. I love you all and I love my God!