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.