Firstly: WOW! Our family has sure had an adventure this week! I am relieved to know Jack found his way back home via my incredible Madre (Mom, you're a saint. Thank you for going to the animal shelter and bringing him back home). What a nut. That perro . . . Austin, it sounds like your Birthday was a good one--between bacon and burgers and ice cream and weights and an ihome, you've got it made. Forgive my meager present. I'll make it up to you with peppermint shakes from chick fil a when I get home :) I'm sorry the Jazz aren't in the playoffs. Kindof a bummer :( Better the Spurrs than the Lakers, though! I can almost smell the cut grass and mulch of working in teh yard. I love this time of year of working in the yard and late nights in the summer sun and time with family. Love you all :) I'm with you in spirit!
Oh, Rachelle's wedding sounded wonderful!!! Mom, thank you for those precious details. I had the hardest time tracting on Thursday, I knew I was out knocking on doors the same time she and Reid were celebrating their special day. It brought tears to my eyes not to be there, but tears of joy in the same moment. I love you Rachelle Rachelle. Here you are in your journey of eternity! How fitting that Sarah did her hair and Danielle did her make up. I wouldn't be suprised if Kelsey was the costume mistress! . . . And Andrea was there! Gah!!! How awesome!!! I miss you all and love you, my dear roommates and dear friends.
I was able to see some of the pictures you sent through, but the computer here are the Gig Harbor Library blocked some of them. Perhaps if you could print out a cheap copy (even black and white would do!) and send them to me via snail mail, just so I can see them? I love seeing pictures of home.
Thank you for all the details--divinity, what you made and ate for Austin's dinner, cub scouts and temple trips and eagle scout projects. They make me feel so near to you. Thank you!
Secondly: The Subject of this email. Huberts lemonade. I'd never heard of it til Gig Harbor, but it is a little heavenly delight wrapped up in one glass bottle with a lemon sticker printed on the front. We get them at the grocery and gas stations here, and oh . . . if only you could taste a swig. Some kind of wonderful available in mango, strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry! Sister Brown and I reward ourselves with one after street contacting.
Gig Harbor is Great! All is well in the little blue house on the harbor with the chickens. Every night when we turn in at 9pm, I gently shout off the porch, "GOOD NIGHT, NEVERLAND!" With the harbor lights and the moon glittering on the water, it very well could be neverland.
I didn't mention this before, but I am in a completely english speaking area. I've only been able to use my Spanish once a week at Blue Agave, the mexican restaurant we eat at on P-days (remember how I was so excited to return and order everything in spanish at Cafe Rio with you, Mom? I've got it down already! :). I try to pray and write in Spanish as often as I can, but I'm afraid I'm losing it. Sister Brown is really sweet to turn of the church music in the car and let me practice to myself out loud. I've taught her a few things, like 'igualmente' and 'por supuesto' and 'soy una misionera.' At first I was really afraid of losing my Spanish after working so hard in the MTC for 7 weeks--but I'm learning to let that go. I'm doing the best I can. I know God qualifies whom he calls. Right now he needs me English Speaking, so that's what I'll be. I might struggle like crazy those first weeks in Argentina, but everything will be okay. He'll qualify me then, too. D&C 64:32--all things in their time :) Including Spanish.
I haven't heard anything more about the Visa situation. All things in their time, again. i've been told anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months. Y'all know me pretty well . . . I like to plan ahead. I like to have thigns under control! I studied Rosario and talked to my friends who've lived in Argentina and looked at their government, geography, and history a little before embarking on my mission. I grew to love Argentines in the MTC even more, and my heart seemed full to bursting with love for this country and its people.
And then I was sent to Gig Harbor, Washington. I have been humbled--I realize this situation happens for a lot of missionaries headed to visa-tricky countries. But of all places even within the U.S., Heavenly Father sent me here. I'm coming to see that I need to love my people, my American people, first. As Esmerelda says, "I thought we all were the children of God." I'm coming to understand and live that better, here.
We've had a lot of blessings and a lot of miracles! We are teaching 7 investigators right now--when I arrived in Gig Harbor only 2 weeks ago, we were only teaching 3.
Josh is 9 years old--his father, Bob (who reminds me of Grandpa Bob so much it scares me sometimes! Military background, spunk, silvery hair and all) is a recent convert that Sister Brown had the privilege of teaching, and his step-mother, Kim, has returned to Church Activity. Josh wants to follow in his Daddy's footsteps, and requested that he have the missionary discussions as well. This little boy is amazing. He has already read the entire Book of Mormon Stories (the simplified version with pictures). We hadc dinner with their family this week, and as we were cleaning up Josh began telling me that his favorite story is of Ether hiding in the cave after the fall of the Jaredites. He also related his interest for Nephi prophesying regarding Seantum and the Judge murder. WOW. He knows the book of Mormon better than I do! He also read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet before we came over to teach him. We played a game of jeapordy to go over the questions and concepts of the Plan of Salvation, and he knew every answer without flaw. Soon he was quizzing us!! He is well on the road to baptism, it's just a matter of gaining permission from his Mom since his parents are divorced. Josh inspires me with his eagerness to learn and to follow the Savior's example.
Elenor is another investigator who inspires me. We met her tracting my second day here, and she expressed excitement to see young ladies out for the LDS church as well. She said she was interested in learning more about our church because of a friend she'd had in high school. We returned this past Tuesday to teach her a little about the restoration and our beliefs. This woman is incredible--she's a mother of two and has nearly died 3 times because of pregnancy and breast cancer complications. But she's here, and she has such a belief and trust in God. She just kept saying 'God has been so good to me!' She's a devoted Catholic, so I'm not sure how far our lessons will go. After we explained about the Book of Mormon, she exclaimed 'Gosh, I would sure love to read it!' To which we delightedly handed her a copy and invited her to ask God for herself. It was a tremendous experience and we look forward to teaching her again this week.
I am inspired by the ward here. Bishop Kasteler, our Bishop, views Missionaries as an integral part of the ward, working not alongisde or with the ward, but as part of the ward. Sister Brown and I loved by these good people. Every night we have a dinner appointment with a family in the ward (pray for me to not gain too much weight! We are always richly fed with things like Greek Gyros and sticky rice and there is ALWAYS dessert) right after we go tracting. Their strength and support uplifts us. We always leave a spiritual message or 'member inspirer' with each family in their home before we leave. My favorite to teach are the families with teenagers and young children--they remind me of you, family. My Brothers and Cousins and Parents and Aunts and Uncles. They remind me of your strength and your potential and your talent and your power to do so much good. Oh, and p.s. they all call me Hermana--lots of people do a double take when they see I'm not 'sister.' And then I have a visa story for them :)
I've come to realize that in life, there are good, better, and best things. It's easy, ofttimes, to avoid the bad--tattoos or smoking or being unkind to others or whatnot. We know those things are bad, so we veer from them. But I feel that Satan nubs our potential by distracting us with merely good things, keeping us from the better and best. Time is a precious gift from Heavenly Father, and I encourage you all to remember that. What BEST things are you capable of? Take your life, and explode the possibilities!
I'm low on time, but my heart is full. More to come in letters :) I think of you all the time and appreciate all the words of encouragement you send me, via letter, email, or prayer.
Love, love, love,
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
April 22, 2013 1:17 PM MDT
Oh, my dear family. i miss you and love you with all my heart!
so here I am, typing from the Library in Gig Harbor, Washington. A Week ago today i was bidding farewell to my MTC amigos and speaking Spanish and doing laundry to prepare for the journey. Tuesday dawned at 2:30 am for me, as my Hermanas and I took our suitcases to the travel office and checked in. Lots of handshakes from the Elders and tight hugs from the Hermanas. The 9 of us have become the best of friends, and I wish I had more time to tell you how incredible they are! lets just say those 7 weeks were some of my favorite in my whole lifetime, filled with laughter, tears, Espanol, and the Spirit. I look forward to many times ahead with them in Rosario.
Elder Higginson and I were the last to leave, 5:00 am, headed for the Salt Lake Airport. As we stopped in the big coach bus, the MTC driver said over the intercom "have a great mission!" The way he said it sounded like he should be saying "have a great day at disneyland." In that moment i realized just how far I was leaving home. i Thought of Samwise, stepping out of the cornfield, realizing that the next step he was taking was the farthest from home he'd ever been. now, I won't be quite that far until I reach Argentina, but going to live in Washington Tacoma is still a pretty big deal for this little Molly Mormon in her Mary-jane Dansko shoes.
So I bid Utah farewell for the last time in a while, and boarded the Airplane for the first time since I was 12 years old on my trip with you to Nauvoo, Mom. It was a short flight, only 2 hours. I was SO PROUD of Elder Higginson! I was sandwiched by missionaries on both sides, but he had a Russian immigrant couple on his left. They began to ask 'who is this big group of people you're a part of?' To which he grinned, and replied, "oh, we're missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Have you ever heard of our church before?" The next two hours ensued an incredible discussion between this sweet couple (parents of 7 children) and my exuberant and steadfast friend elder Higginson. He shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon as a witness of Jesus Christ and the importance of finding a witness for ourselves, committed the wife to read the book of Mormon, and answered the questions they had regarding the Word of Wisdom and Temples and more. It was neat to see him already sharing his testimony only a few short hours after leaving the training center.
After arriving at the airport, we encountered our sweet Mission President and his Wife, President and Sister Weaver. They gave us great big hugs and soon we were on our way back to the Church Building. The Washington Tacoma mission is affectionately called the WA-TAC by the missionaries here. i soon met my companion, Sister Ashley Brown from springville, UT. She is beautiful, spunky, kind, and loves to quote Harry Potter movies. We enjoyed some counsel from our Mission President and wife during Transfer meeting--this mission is SO MUSICAL! Between every testimony we were standing to sing. Every missionary seems to boom their testimony in songs like Amazing Grace and He Sent His Son. My tired soul rejoiced in the music. Sister Brown & I begin every Companionship study with a hymn and prayer, and often hum together between houses in tracting. D&C 25:12.
I have been assigned to labor in a city called Gig Harbor. We are in the thick of Washington Trees, and our little blue house (see picture) overlooks the harbor itself. We have a totem pole in the front yard, a chicken coop in the back (some members own this home, and we get the privilege of letting the chickens out in the morning! It's so fun!!!), and a fun little orange rusty mailbox. I Love it, Mom & Dad. The house is tiny--only barely enough room for we two sisters. I am mesmerized by the trees here, it's as though I've been dropped off in Lord of the Rings. Absolutely STUNNING! :)
The Ward in Gig Harbor is fantastic. The Ward Members work really closely with the missionaries to find people to teach, and they seem to be spilling over with love for us. I was overwhelmed with hugs and hellos yesterday at Church--I'm looking forward to coming to know all of them. we are fed every single night, a homecooked meal from a member. Oh, goodness, the scale frightens me--but the food is delicious and I'm grateful for their kindness!
most of our investigators have been out of town this week for Spring Break, so that has left us doing a lot of tracting and a lot of finding and a lot of lessons with Recent Converts. Tracting can be a lot of fun when you're going with Sister Brown :) When someone answers the door, we ask them how they are doing, and if they resist us as missionaries we simply ask what their beliefs are. i've learned a lot about different religions and different cultures already. We have 2 families that have invited us back to talk about the church, and I cannot wait to teach them but am terrified at the same time! I want very much to be an adequate teacher and to express how much God loves them.
The hardest moments came for me these past few days. saturday, I invited a kind Christian man to read the Book of Mormon and offered my testimony. He immediately bristled and expressed that such was a point of contention for him, and he doesn't believe that anything can be added to the Bible. Another moment was yesterday, While talking with a polite man at his door he expressed his belief that all should follow Jesus Christ, and he commended us for representing him and inviting others to follow him. He then followed to say that people don't need organized religion or leaders or our Book of Mormon to follow God. Our conversation was very civil and very kind, but as I walked away, my heart was ravaged. i have never felt such torment and sadness in my entire life, and I mean that honestly. In all honesty, I felt wounded and hurt that someone could reject that which i dearly love, and call it false, and call it useless. I have done a lot of soul searching these past three days, a lot of remembering, and a lot of reading. I want to bear my testimony to you, my dear family, that this book is of God. No evil man could write this book, and no Good man would write it unless it was sanctioned by God. it was written by ancient prophets in the Americas and thereafter translated by Joseph Smith. that I know. i love my savior, and I love this little blue book that testifies of him! I know it and I cannot deny it, despite the rejection of others.
i love you, my sweet family. I think of you all the time and hope to hear from you--all of you--soon. I am buoyed up by the love yuou have extended to me all my life.
Dad, I hope the app work is great. I would love to hear from you!
Mom, I have a lot to reply to from your email, I'll have to write it hand written. Give rachelle the biggest hug in the world for me on her special day!!!! :) I think a gift card would be best for a gift, but wrap up a box of star wars fruit snacks for her and lable it from me :) She'll understand. Tell her i love her with all my heart!!! And Reid's pretty great too ;) He'll take good care of her.
AUSTIN, HAPPY 17 THIS WEEK BUD!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE You!
Ty, Jp, Corey--you know I love you. Keep being awesome and doing good ;) How I love you.
LOVE! Hermana Boren
Friday, April 12, 2013
April 11, 2013 8:15 AM
My Dear Dear Dear Dear Family!!
Hello! I'm writing to you from my last P-Day in the MTC!!!! Here's the thing . . . we don't actually know where we're being reassigned yet. We know for sure we will be reassigned and sent to a stateside mission sometime this week, but we don't know yet when or where. I will be finding out later today, which means I get to call home tonight or tomorrow, for about 5 minutes, to tell you where I'm going and give you a brief I love you (and tell you something in Spanish, so you can hear that I have been learning!). I'm not sure what time I'll be permitted to call, but just a heads up. I'll try calling Mom's cell if I don't get the home phone (i'm sorry Dad, I don't have yours memorized. I know it starts with a 801-9 . . .). But even if I get the answering machine, at least I get to talk to you on mother's day next month, right? :) I'm not bummed at all about the reassignment. I know I'll get to Argentina eventually, and until then I have the privilege of serving a mini mission in another area. I cannot wait to start sharing the gospel and exercise all that I've learned.
Another item of Business: I had my last HEP shot this week with Twinrix. I had to pay 100$ of my cash for it to be fully immunized, and the receipt with the insurance info is on it's way to you in the mail (tomorrow) to get reimbursed by the insurance company. I will probably take 100$ out of the ATM with my debit to make up for my emergency cash fund, so don't be alarmed if you see that change on my bank account.
This week has been an awesome mail week. Mom, seriously, you are the best ever. I cannot thank you enough! Thank you for the lotion, the smell goods, and the Banana Bread. I must say, I was a little more to myself with that one . . . I ate a whole loaf by myself, and then shared the other with the Hermanas. I never knew how much I truly truly loved your nana bread til this week! Good golly miss Molly, it is delicious. And the letters, oh the letters! Thank you, my dear brothers and Casey and Josh and Kylie for your creative notes and recounts of the Color festival. Sounds like a blast! I'm glad you could go to the temple and do work for the dead. I'm proud of you, keep Temple attendance up! Also, many thanks to Ted & Kelli fam for their lovely package with Missionary survival stuff (stickers, tide pen, cookies, an incredible banner with my name on it, stickers, & more) and Sweet Aunt Katie for the Grandma B. Scarves and letters. Thank you to everyone else for your letters, love, prayers, and support!
Wasn't Conference AMAZING this past weekend? I felt like a giddy schoolgirl. It was like Christmas for we missionaries! Some tender mercies--seeing my sweet roommate Sarah singing beautifully in the BYU Choir, Afternoon Saturday Session. So wonderful! Also, we watched a rebroadcast of the YW general broadcast, and I was so excited to see so many beautiful lovely young faces from my home ward and stake!
I was uplifted and astounded by the many inspired talks and beautiful messages offered. Some great one liners I took from conference:
"Nothing is going to surprise us more than returning to our Father in Heaven and how well we already know him." -Cristoffel Golden
I loved this because our endeavor to do good and right and fight for what is true is not forgotten. We are striving to be more like God everyday, and through that process, we know him better than we think we do.
"A child who sings is a happy child." -Elder Enrique Falabella (also by him was the line, 'in order to contend, you need two people, and I will never be one of them. It reminded me of when mom says you need to to tangle. It's true!)
Music is so important in the home! Especially the hymns, but Boston, Eagles, Disney music . . . good wholesome music has uplifted me throughout my life. Thank you, loving parents, for encouraging me in every musical aspect--my endeavors in guitar and voice and piano, especially.
"It is your soul I am buying for you." -Elder D. Todd Cristofferson (quoting Les Miserables. Shout out to Kylie and Casey!)
Remember that Christ has bought our souls. Don't take that ransom for granted.
My favorite talks from the whole conference were probably Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, and Rosemary M. Wixom. Sister Wixom offered such a neat and particular talk about children and fueled my joy and passion for teaching children. I will certainly consult her talk in future days in my classroom and in my home as a mother.
Some other events--Tuesday we took a trip to SLC to visit the Argentine Consulate. At 7:30 am, we found ourselves crammed on a bus (like a schoolbus) and bustling out of Provo. It was strange to leave the MTC premises and travel a highway I know like the back of my hand. Passing UVU i thought of you, AJ, studying at UCAS. Keep up the good work, bud! I also looked fondly off of the American Fork exit. I love you all :) Once arriving in the Salt lake, we were dropped off by the Church office building and walked to the Joseph Smith Memorial building to meet with the Argentine Consulate. We met in a grand assembly room with broad windows and fancy wood fixtures. There were about 120 or so Argentine-going visa waiting missionaries there, from all over Utah, Boise Idaho, and of course the MTC. The Consulate spoke to us for about an hour, answered a few cultural questions, and then briefly met with each of us individually. We had our fingerprint sheets there and signed our names. Beleive it our not, this process took about 4.5 hours. We entertained ourselves with quizzing each other on Spanish sentences, particularly difficult verb tenses like conditional and subjunctive. I wrote in my journal some. Hermana Telfer and i ventured to the large windows and sat in the broad-silled window frame while we read and talked some (see pictures). Once we were finally done, we went downstairs and enjoyed our favorite part of the trip--the Nauvoo Cafe! We were ecstatic to eat something different than MTC Cafeteria food. Sandwiches never tasted so good, I tell ya. Hermana Alicea and Elder Martin had never seen the Salt Lake Temple in person before, so of course we stopped to take pictures in front of it. It was a diverting, different kind of day for us in the mission field.
As far as the visas go, we really don't know how long it will take. Visiting with the consulate was a crucial step in the process. We will receive our visas anywhere between 2 weeks and 3 months. We'll see :) But I'm not worried. All things in their time (D&C 64:32, one of my favorites).
It's been a pleasure to learn in one small class of people all day, the first time since elementary school. Our district has become very close and we really enjoy learning together--each missionary helps buoy up the next missionary. I'm going to miss them dearly! All day every day with the same 9 people is a neat thing to experience. Fast, lasting friendships. Especially because we are all united in the missionary effort! One of our favorite activities of late has invovled our imaginations! WAHOO! We have taken our desks and chairs in the classroom and transformed them to be an airport, a park, or a bus. Then, half our class pretends to be investigators, and the other half practices being missionaries approaching these investigators. These simulations are to practice contacting in public areas, and remind me a little of my college drama class I took last winter. It's not only a lot of fun, but quite a spiritual experience. I've acted as a single mom with 3 kids just striving to get by, a 9 year old little girl playing hopscotch, a college student traveling to Costa Rica, an atheist grandma librarian, and a 13 year old girl struggling to find friends. In each case, (completely in spanish), the missionaries in my district were able to tailor their message to the needs of the investigator. Always it was centered on Jesus Christ, and always their approach was gentle and understanding. They didn't try to force-feed the book of mormon or coerce my investigator into coming to church. Theirs was a labor of love, peace, goodwill, just as the Savior would have done.
I realize I've never truly told you what a day in the MTC is like. Before I sign off, let me tell you the best way that I can :)
6:30 am: Arise and Prepare. I share the same bedroom with the other 4 sisters in my district. I have the top bunk of a bunkbed, which is a fulfillment of a life-long dream of mine. Seriously, it's awesome! We have wardrobe-style closets connected to shared desks for each companionship. Our bathrooms are in the hallway, they are public restrooms with public showers (and curtains for modesty, of course). Singing in the showers is my favorite thing, everyone harmonizes. Sometimes if I stop singing, other sisters ask me from across the bathroom to please keep going, and sometimes request hymns. I couldn't ask for a kinder compliment :)
7:20 am: Breakfast! We eat at the cafeteria. It is practically identical to the Cannon Center--same food and everything. Memories of Freshman year at BYU as a salad girl. It's good and healthful, but nothing near as good as mom's food, let me tell ya. The bagels, salad wraps, and BYU ice cream is the best part of eating here. I've discovered a new culinary love--granola with peanut butter and honey, spread on bananas and apples. Pure joy!
7:50 am: Classtime! Hermano Magallanes in the Morning. We always begin with a prayer, hymn in spanish, and reciting our purpose and the first vision--all in Spanish. We practice grammar, learn spanish terms, have gospel discussions in Spanish, teach our teacher as an acting investigator (Alberto) in Spanish, read from the Book of Mormon in Spanish, and sometimes watch video clips of how to teach . . . in English. Hermano Magallanes told us we have the best classroom in the whole MTC, and he's right. It is about 3 times the size of the normal classrooms, has two large beautiful windows where I can gaze out at Timpanogos, a red painted wall (the best color, right?), desks we can write on with dry erase marker . . . it's pretty neat. And it's right across the hall from the bathrooms. We have it made.
10:50 am: Personal Study. This is my favorite time, my time to feast from the scriptures and spend time with God.
12:00 pm: LUNCH! We get mail after we finish eating, and sometimes go to a practice room and play the piano and sing! Hermana Alicea is a fantastic pianist.
12:45 pm: Companionship Study. Also my favorite time, because I have the privilege of having Hermanas Alicea and Telfer all to myself to glean their wisdom!
2:00 pm: Classtime! This time with Hermano Ballard. The same concepts as with Hermano Magallanes, except oftimes we get to study outside, HALLELUJAH!
5:00 pm. Cena. oops, I mean dinner!
5:45 pm: TALL lab. We go to a computer lab and work on a computer program called TALL (tech assisted language learning) to improve our Spanish.
7:05 pm: GYM TIME! I get to run the track and play volleyball with my district. It's awesome! I have never loved volleyball so much.
8:25 pm: Daily planning and additional Study
9:30 pm: Return to apartment, get ready for bed.
10:30 pm: BEDTIME!
Alright, sorry for this super long email. I'd best be on my way, just know that i love you and I'll talk to you soon. You're in my thoughts and prayers all the time, and I love to hear from you. Corey, hang in there bud with your pulled teeth! Goodness, that looks like it hurt. And boys, your eggs pictures and coffin pictures made me laugh and laugh. Love you love you love you.
"Si mi amais, guardad mis mandamientos."
Thursday, April 4, 2013
April 4, 2013 8:07 AM
Buenos Dias, Familia!
Thank you so much for your emails, Mom & Dad! I'm so glad you all went to Festival of Colors--what a blast y'all had! What a fun memory with the cousins. Let's go again, together, in spring 2015, eh? The pictures came through and were WONDERFUL to see! :) I Got the festival of color pics, Mom, but not the Easter ones . . . not sure why on that one. And Kylie came down to surprise you! How fun! I don't know why but I almost cried when I saw her picture. I love love love you all. Easter also sounds like it was a neat day. Corey, way to be on your first talk in church! Would you mind mailing it to me so I can benefit from your testimony and wisdom, too? Sounds like you've been spending a lot of time in Provo--Creamery on 9th, mmm . . . I'm glad you could drive by my Temporary home here at the MTC. These grounds are small, but beautiful. The MTC is actually considered part of the Provo Temple mission, so the grounds we study and pray and live on are technically temple grounds, too. Kinda cool, huh?
Dad, I'm sorry you've had such a bad bout of gout :( I hope you're able to heal soon. Take it easy and know I'm thinking of & praying for you. You deserve to feel better! I hope the app keeps coming along well, especially with the new language translations. Spanish is the celestial language though ;)
Wow, Zach Mortensen & Bahia Blanca! Congratulaciones! It seems the Highland 33rd ward young people are meant for the people of the beautiful land of sol (sun). Excited for him!
We loved your Easter package, Family (and the socks therein, too). And yours too, Aunt Kristen! And Sister Bell, for the delicous oranges and cookies! And Boys, thank you ALWAYS for your incredible letters. Jordan, I can hear your droid voice in my head right now (please still be able to make it when I get back! Don't let a deeper voice rob that of you). We didn't end up having an easter egg hunt, (Easter morning was very busy here at the MTC) but we did find a neat service use for them. The sisters and I put together easter baskets for each of the Elders (and shared some of the fun toys I received from Dan, Jena, and & Kristen) and also our two teachers, Hermano Ballard and Hermano Magallanes. We filled the easter eggs with candy and walked around the MTC handing the eggs to different missionaries wishing them a happy Easter. I had no Idea we could make people so happy simply by handing them an Easter egg. Many missionaries don't get loving packages the way I do. Thank you for your love!
Alrighty, for my updates of the week. It seems like there's so much to share with you I hardly know where to begin. I'll do my best.
"Savior, Redeemer of my Soul
Whose heart & Hands hath made me whole
Whose wondrous love hath raised me up
And changed for sweet my bitter cup."
The above lyrics are the most sung by performers in our weekly devotionals, and this week have had particular meaning and heartfelt emotion for me. Think, just a moment, about these words. About this man, this perfect man's influence, in your life. IF nothing else comes of this email this morning, I want you to know that the above words are true. I know them to be true, and I know Christ lives.
Easter Sunday in the MTC was an occasion I shall never forget. At 10:00am the entire MTC gathered for a combined Sacrament Meeting. A Group of 40 or so elders--including the Elders from my district--assembled to pass the sacrament to over 3,000 missionaries, and our branch leaders. We looked like a nation filling the Gym and MTC halls, armed with the gospel, ready to reach to all nations and invite them to come unto Christ! It was a powerful meeting. Bishop Causse of the Presiding Bishopric spoke to us in the morning, and Sheri Dew spoke to us that evening. A real treat! Bishop Causse shared a line from Les Miserables (shout out to Casey Harper) which I really loved. It says, "Love is a celestial respiration of the air of paradise." I loved that quote. Sheri Dew expressed the importance of remembering who the savior is, our divine identity/who we are, and how to hear the voice of the lord. If we have those things in order, Satan can't have power over us.
Another neat experience--and miracle, really--was fast and testimony meeting Sunday afternoon. The members of our branch assembled to bear testimony Sunday afternoon. We're the 'oldest' district, having been here in the MTC 5 weeks. The other 2 districts are 3 weeks and 1 week old. Regardless of how long each of us has been here, each person proceeded to bear their testimony in Spanish. Some spoke only brief words, others more eloquently. But the miracle was that each of us spoke in this new tongue, bearing witness of what we know to be true. I cannot describe the spirit that filled that room, nor the ability each of us found to spout of a fountain of a language not our own. The Branch Presidency proceeded to tell us that in their 2 and 1/2 years here, they have never seen such an expression of the gift of tongues in any meeting. Our teachers, our branch presidency, and even native speakers in the MTC cafeteria stop to compliment us on our ability to speak Spanish so readily. They are always incredulous to hear we've been here only 5 weeks, with little previous experience in the tongue. Whom God calls, he prepares. I Have no other explanation!
My favorite thing about the MTC is teaching in the TRC. The Training Resource Center is an opportunity for local native speakers to volunteer here at the MTC, and sit in a lesson with us for about an hour. Most of them are members of the church, so we simply speak about our beliefs and practice bearing testimony. My Sweet Companions and I have had the blessed opportunity of teaching a kind woman named Maria from Mexico and her friend, Patty, two weeks in a row now. Though we are not always able to respond as eloquently as we'd like, we can understand nearly everything she says. We've built a neat friendship and she has promised to write us on our missions. The spirit is always present in our lessons, and we just cannot get enough time with her. She is already converted and is a steadfast member of the Church, but her friendship is so valuable to us, and she has helped us improve in Spanish more than I can explain.
Good news--my district received a letter in the mail this week regarding the Argentina Consulate coming to Salt Lake next Tuesday, April 9th. We will be driving to Salt Lake to meet with him next Tuesday and a few weeks thereafter (hopefully) receive our visas. Because of this meeting with the consulate, we will not be leaving the MTC til April 15th or so. An extra week in the MTC. We will be reassigned a new mission until our visas come through, probably somewhere in Utah for a time. I am itching with excitement to finally go forth to serve!
I had no Idea I would have so much occasion so sing in the MTC. I sing in the showers, and others sisters either chime in or ask for requests :) Yesterday, Hermana Whitaker and I had the opportunity to sing "Be Still, My Soul" to the incoming group of 1,000 missionaries. It was really fun :) Hermana Alicea did a fantastic job accompanying.
My time is drawing to a close--I'll have to write the rest in a letter later. Mostly I want to tell you to be careful of the time that you have and what you choose to spend your time doing. I must honestly tell you that I don't miss facebook, and I don't miss my phone one bit. As for television, I don't really care to watch it anymore. I feel I was so distracted before my mission--so much social media, so many electronics calling my name. I didn't take the time to listen, to think, and to really serve the way I could have. There are so many poeple in need of friends, in need of words of encouragement, in need of the gospel, in need of our help. I feel like I was a decently loving person before my mission, but I have been amazed to see how much more I can be doing and have yet to do. I am human, and I am weak. But I look forward to improving myself (through the power of my redeemer!) and being able to serve in a greater capacity. With that note, think about your time and what you choose to do with it. Please, even for half an hour a day, allow yourself freedom from the distractions of the world and allow yourself to Be still, and know that there is a God! The scripture of the week is 1 Samuel 10:9. When God Called Saul to be a captain over the people, "God gave him another heart." When you are willing, you can be transformed, changed for the better. The good in you can be refined to best! I know that to be true!
I love you all, with all my heart. Never forget that. Don't miss me too much, for I feel your prayers, and though we are apart I feel you with me all the time. I have your pictures on my wall, and I remember your voices as I fall asleep looking at your faces. You are very near to me. We'll be together again soon. I know families are forever, and it is because of that--because our family is sealed, and loves each other--that I must go to Argentina. I need to help other families know this, too.