Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Safely Settled In

I made it here safe and sound :) I love it here and am so happy! In case you can't tell, Friday's are my P-DAY!! I've only been here a couple days now (today is day 3) but it feels like I've been here an eternity!

The first day was a blur! I was dropped at the curb, escorted by an elder host to a building where I received my missionary name tag, room key, and lots of other envelopes. Then a sister host took me to my residence hall to drop off my luggage and we turned around and went to the bookstore to get my GIANT bag of books: Mongolian scriptures, Mongolian PMG, pamphlets in both languages, a dictionary, grammar book, and a lot more that I haven't really looked at yet. Next, we were off to the classroom where I will spend most of my time the next 8-9 weeks as I try to learn Mongolian and study the gospel. I was the first one there from my district, so I met the teacher and started learning Mongolian immediately!! We have two teachers and they are so awesome ... they don't speak English with us, but it pushes us to really try.  Classes pretty much end up being charades but hopefully that will change.

My district has 4 people: Elder Kentley (24 yrs old, from Chicago), Elder McHam (from Texas/Utah, joined the church a year ago), me and my companion ... Sister Westover! How awesome is that? She's the one I found on Facebook in November and met up with for lunch. We had joked about being companions and now we are. Woohoo!! She is so awesome and I'm glad to have her as my companion. She is a great example to me. Also, we both want to stay fit in the MTC so we are waking up extra early to go to the 6am sister missionary workout classes and eating well in the cafeteria too. It's so great to have someone by my side making conscious decisions to be healthy. The morning classes are interesting - yesterday we did yoga and today we had a kickboxing class.  Today's class was exhausting even though we laughed through half of it - haha. Since we are doing these classes, during our gym time after lunch, we play volleyball or stretch.

My branch president designated me as the senior companion (at least for now ... we are here so long that will probably switch), so I lead our studies and try to encourage us as a companionship to learn and grow and be obedient. There is one other Mongolian district in our zone. There are 3 sisters and 2 elders in that district: Sisters Hartley, Bennet, and Wilkins, and Elders Disney and Mulder. They are all awesome as well! Our zone/branch also includes one other elder from Russia going to Washington, DC, and 15-ish sisters from all over the world (Tonga, Tahiti, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Ecuador, Taiwan) going to Temple Square!!! It's cool seeing these sisters come from so far away and try so hard to learn English. It gives me strength and hope that I can do the same with Mongolian.

The rest of our time consists of language study, personal gospel study, companion gospel study, workshops (just for the first few days), more language study, and oh ... more language study. Learning Mongolian is HARD and at times I just want to give up but I think of the people I will meet and sever in Mongolia and I want to be able to communicate effectively with them. I want to be able to explain and share the gospel to the best of my abilities. I am grateful for what my Branch President (President Bartholomew) told me last night in my interview with him; "The Lord will have you speak Mongolian when He needs you to speak Mongolian." I'm trusting in this advice and praying to understand and have patience. We have already learned basic phrases for when you meet someone, the alphabet (which I am struggling with but working on), how to bear our testimony and pray. We will teach an investigator (our teacher) tomorrow, so hopefully we can remember what we are learning. The language sounds strange - it's a gutteral language and it sounds like we are always talking with a lisp.

I love the atmosphere here and the strong spirit everyone carries.  It's like EFY on steroids, haha! It's amazsing how much I've learned in just a short time. The spirit really is the greatest teacher and I've definitely come to a knowledge of that just in this short time. I am so happy and excited to serve! I love the Mongolian people already and can't wait to get to Mongolia and start teaching them!

Love you!! I can't wait to hear from you!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's finally time!

Waiting five long months was hard but it's finally time to serve!  I went to Portland with my family for some fun and a trip to the temple before flying into Salt Lake where the Vawdreys picked me up and welcome me into their home for one night before I reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah (my home for the next 8 weeks as I learn the language). I was lucky enough to see Tim & Alex too!

Friday, March 20, 2015

I am so happy to have my 'official' mission photos!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Opening My Call

Starting as soon as my papers were submitted, I checked my mailbox for my call every time I walked by it. While it only took just over a week to get to me, it felt like FOREVER!

On November 6th, My call was assigned! Ahhh!!! It was officially on it's way to me! The Lord knew where I was going to serve His children, and it would only be a matter of time until I would know too!

Well, on November 10th, I opened my mailbox to a manila envelope addressed to me from the office of the First Presidency!!! I started texting, calling, and Facebooking friends and family to let everyone know that my call was here and I would be opening it.

About an hour later, I got a text from my mom wanting to Skype, so we did. While we were Skyping, Ben F. Facetimed me... weird. They told me to get the mission call and open it... umm, okay. At this point, my adrenaline is pumping because this is MY MISSION CALL! Well, I open it to read what looks like a real mission call-to the India Bangalore Mission?!? Um, what?  IT WAS FAKE!!!

You probably wonder how I fell for it... a MANILA envelope... Well, when you are waiting for your call, you are pretty gullible. Ben also spent a lot of time making it seem legit... here's the back story:

One Sunday, Ben claimed he could pull a prank on me, but my mom bet dinner that he couldn't because she thought, "Emily is smart, she won't fall for it." Oh, was she wrong! Ben made an elaborate Facebook post about an article saying mission calls were now coming in two colors of envelopes. The article said an office that deals with new missions of dangerous areas ordered the wrong kind of envelope and were going to use them until they ran out. He had friends from all over comment on the post to make it seem legit as well. He talked to his MTC comp to help him out with the formatting, mission packet, and mailing it to me from the correct zip code.

Because of all of this and the fact that I was so eager to get my call, I believed that this yellow envelope actually was mine! Of course, once it was open, it was obviously fake. I was called to India, speaking Hindi and Telugu, signed Joseph Smith. My mission president was Brad Pitt married to Angelina Jolie with 27 kids. The bios claimed that Brad served in Omaha, Nebraska (like my brother), born in Roseburg, OR (to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), and that Angelina was born in Coquille, OR, (like Ben) to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. On the dress and grooming pages, there were pictures of Indians and Rosie the Riveter, a power ranger, Star Wars characters, Utes slippers, cowboy boots, and so on. The MTC map was a Google maps screen shot showing Provo and where McDonald's was.

So basically, I was pranked. Ben did a good job, but at the time, I was not a happy camper. Now I would have to wait even longer for my REAL mission call! I thought I was going to die of suspense!

So, after the prank mission call, more waiting, and all I could do to stay sane, it finally came! On November 14th, I received my mission call (this time in the official white envelope)! I told everyone what time to come to my place, cleaned the apartment, went to the temple, and bought treats. Being at the office was torture because I knew that my call was sitting at home just waiting for me! Woohoo!

Side note: Throughout this whole mission papers process, I was kind of freaking out about where I would go. I know that the Lord knows me personally and knows where I need to be, but it was still scary. I prayed daily that I would not be disappointed when I opened my call and that I would know where I am sent is where I need to be. It was hard because as much as I knew I would love my call, I was scared that I would be disappointed to go stateside or Spanish speaking, or worst of all in my mind- to Asia (scared of the language and never connected with the culture). I wanted that wow moment when I saw my call, and I wanted to be instantly happy and overwhelmed with joy.

Now back to my day; I got home from work and set everything up. I got my family on Skype, my grandparents on another computer on Skype, and my friends came over. My brother and his fiance came, along with friends from the ward and from work. It was so great having those who mattered most to me present for this exciting moment!

It was TIME... ahhh! This is the moment I'd been building to and it finally was real!!! I fumbled with the envelope, trying to get it open. I then was careful to pull the call and packet out in a way that I could read the call line by line...

"Dear Sister Harker:" (I'm a sister missionary- woohoo!!!)

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary..."

PAUSE- I accidentally dropped the booklet a line and saw where I was going and kinda freaked out inside. So, I tried to keep reading (and crying and so on).

"...of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are... (at this point I was crying from pure joy and shock and it was practically impossible for me to keep reading, but I did with a lot of effort!)... assigned to labor in the..."


Everyone's mouths dropped and David was laughing and I was still in shock. I then read;

"You should report to the Provo MTC on Wednesday, March 25th, 2015. You will prepare to preach the Gospel in the Mongolian language."

Eventually, people clapped and cheered, and people began to leave. I was ecstatic, shocked, and sure. I felt a surety of this was where the Lord needed me. Here were some of the things going through my head:

-WOW! That's Awesome!
-Where is that?
-Is this another joke?
-No, this is real!
-How will I learn Mongolian?
-I'm so lucky!
-I didn't know there was even a mission there...
-I'm going to be a Sister!
-What? Really? Me? The German-speaking white Oregonian/ Canadian is going to Mongolia?

It took the whole night to sink in, but with the help of Danielle and my family (who looked up videos, blogs, fun facts, and so on), it did. I was and am so happy to have been called to serve in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar mission! I know that I am meant to go there at this time to touch certain lives. I already love the people and can't wait for my love to grow.