How are you all doing?! To start off I just have to say that I have been so lucky. I know that I have the best friends and family in the whole world! You have all been so great and supportive, even if i feel like you're secretly trying to make me fat and frumpy! hehe. So I apologize if I haven't written you back--I promise i am trying! i have just been too spoiled by you all!!
The MTC has been wonderful, but after this last week I feel ready and excited to get to France! I can't believe it. Butterflies for sure. But for now, i don't think I have fully explained how cool our branch is. I am in the International Branch--meaning people from all over the place--like melting pot central. I am one of only four Americans in the entire branch (also means i'm one of only four white people in our branch)!! We have only about 40 or so missionaries and we have over 20 countries represented!! It's crazy! We have elders and sisters from Taiwan, Korea, China, Samoa, Tonga, Romania, Armenia, Burma (the first sister missionary from there ever. and there have only ever been 6 elders before her...amazing), India, Ukraine, France, the Marshall islands, Brazil, mexico, Canada, Kiribati, the Phillippines, etc, etc... Since I have that leadership assignment, I get to attend the meeting with the Branch President ever Thursday night where they share a little about their backgrounds and a brief testimony...and WOW. every week I am so touched! So many of them are the only members in their family and no matter how far they've come, what experiences got them here, or what language they speak, their testimonies bring us all together because they are all centered on jesus Christ, his Atonement, His plan, and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It seriously is so cool--the Church is so true!! I've gotten better at employing my charade skills (thanks to halle's advice), because sometimes it's a wee bit of a challenge helping someone figure out their schedule and all the culture and rules of the MTC when you speak not a word of their language (I never really expected that learning Armenian would have come in handy), and they speak like two words of yours. For example, one of my personal favorites--when i ask, "So do you have any questions?' and they all nod and smile. hehe. I certainly love my dear sweet sisters. They are an inspiration to me every day.
There are other funny things that happen at the MTC that make you stop and ask "did that really just happen?" Like when an elder the other day stopped and asked if he could bear his testimony to us on the sidewalk (uh...sure....), or when a little old sister missionary comes and sits down at our table during lunch and says that she had a homework assignment to teach someone the first lesson and was wondering if she could teach us because I am not the most intimidating looking person...dumb blonde (check), short in stature (check, check))! it was pretty cute too because her hands were actually shaking because she was so nervous!! At least we could reassure her she wasn't alone!
Umm...dad being ranked 23 is so NOT trivial!! i actually squealed out loud when i read that (illiciting a few weird looks) because that's so awesome! you and your flowy hair (when you run across the court) must be doing a pretty dang good job! p.s. i would have paid big money to see the monopoly man realize he was going down to you!!!! hehe.
Sister Wang left this week, which was bittersweet, but after she left i had to write down her rules so i wouldn't forget them. After she did her morning check list with us (nametag, smile, blue card, etc...) she would always remind us of her 5 rules, which really apply to anyone, not just missionaries. (Granted, i have a much longer way to go improving on them than most of you). 1. love your companion 2. pray for your companion 3. no judge 4. no complain 5. no compare (said, of course, with her cute accent). I really appreciated having her keep me focused!
It was so great to talk to you mom – even if I did catch you way off guard! They just want you to call if your visa’s are delayed or travel changes from what it was supposed to be. So I was there with all the people who were originally called to Mongolia, but they all just got permanent new assignments cuz they can’t get visas there now at all . (wouldn’t you be a slight bit bummed if you had been called to Mongolia & they were like…jk – Denver north now! Maybe the 6 weeks you spent learning Mongolian will come in handy some other time!)
So I decided that once the season is over you should go as a family to volunteer at the TRC. If they do it Monday nights you could just do it as a FHE. Because most of the “investigators” who volunteer are either like young college students or old people. But I saw a cute family with like 3 younger kids there the other night & thought that was so cool for those missionaries, because we’re really encouraged to focus on families, in the field, but teaching a family with kids would be so different than teaching a little sweet old lady who practically cries when you smile & bear your testimony!
I’ve gotten more used to the TRC, but the first time I was scared out of my mind! And then the first time we taught in French, I was sick to my stomach! But I can already tell that I’ve grown. For example, this past Friday a teacher a couple of rooms came over & was like “hey could you go teach with Sister Henry (she is from France) in 5 minutes, because she’s never taught in French before & she doesn’t want to teach alone.” And we did it just fine without any preparation, & we had to teach the same investigator the next hour, so we just went with it & kept him going as a progressing investigator! They are suppose to be “golden investigators,” but it was still fun because we got to practice committing someone to baptism! Plus teaching in French always makes it a little more adventurous. Hahaha. Sister Henry afterward told us that we have “cute” accents & then she said that she was kind of laughing when sister woyak asked, “Quest-ce que vous faites avec votre femme, comme activite?” She was meaning to ask like “so what do you do in your spare time or for fun? But it translates more to “what do you do with your wife, as activity? HAHA. Thank goodness the investigator was just nice & went with what he figured she meant. I look forward to having these moments regularly starting next week. Haha
Speaking of language barriers…funny story. Ya know how we have to prepare sacrament talks every week? Well, the topic last week was “charity & love.” But, one of the Brazilian elders told one of the other Brazilian elders (Elder Lima) that it was “chastity & love.” I, of course, couldn’t set him straight because I thought it was too funny an opportunity to ruin. Elder Lima is like the most innocent, little boy looking Elder here, so picture him worrying about writing & being called up to give a sacrament talk in front of everyone on “chastity and love.”
Ok, cool story from last week, I didn’t have time to write. We had to teach a district lesson last week & the topic was Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ & the Atonement. Anyway, we started planning & I was just not feelin’ it! So I closed my eyes for little bit & thought about it & then came up with the idea of doing a “musical lesson.” I figured that music brings the spirit much faster than anything else does, & that the spirit is a much better teacher than I ever could be. So we prayerfully chose hymns that testified of the principles & doctrines related to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ & the Holy Ghost. And then basically shared our testimonies of the principles in between hymns & asked the same question after each –“How would having a testimony of the principles taught in this hymn help an investigator progress toward baptism?” It was a super simple lesson (and we didn’t even have a table cloth!), but wow… I felt the spirit! There were tears all around & one of the sisters afterwards said, “it was like Angels were there!” How grateful I am to the Holy Ghost & the ways that it can touch our hearts & inspire us!
K, well I had so many more things to tell you, but we just had an impromptu departure party on the floor. The foreign sisters just came and sang “God be with you,” to us. Absolutely beautiful.
Your letters have helped so much as well! I hope everything is going great and that everyone is staying out of too much mischief (unlikely). I love you all so much and I will write you next week from the most beautiful city in the world!!!! Give everyone hugs for me!