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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Helpful Advice?

I've been here over a month now. Only a few more weeks, and I will be heading to Mongolia! On Saturday, we started our online training for ESL certification, and it's so cool! I am so lucky to be going to the only mission in the world where English teaching is a part of our call, and how we are getting into the country! What a special thing! I am so excited to teach the people English and help change their lives in that way.

Our teachers have been sharing a number of stories about Mongolia with us this week. Here is what we have learned. There are a lot of drunk people, and they often want to fight the elders or kiss the sisters, so there are some options: 1) Let your Mongolian companion punch them (yep, our teacher said the Mongolian sisters are that LEGIT) 2) Split and walk around them... they will be confused and won't know who to follow 3) Teach them about the gospel... one of our teachers street contacted a drunk guy when he was new to Mongolia-- he didn't know the guy was drunk, haha. Also, there are wild dogs there that are HUGE and will attack you. Here are the defense/offense options: 1) According to the Mongolian sister here, you just have to be faster than your companion. 2) Also the Mongolian sisters advice: sit down in a ball, and cover your face so they can't bite your face or legs.
3) Teacher's advice: pick up a rock and pretend to throw it. The people there throw so many rocks at the dogs, that most of the time the dog will be scared and run away. 4) If that doesn't work, actually throw it. 5) And if that doesn't work, actually kick it... as hard as you can! Our teacher said its not like kicking a dog, but like kicking a monster! And the last piece of advice: when walking with your companion, do not separate around poles, people, or anything else. You walk with them! It's rude to separate, so just follow the leader.

Mission life is hard! I definitely have had my struggles, as does anyone else, but I know that it is all for my benefit. The mission is meant to stretch me and make me better. Each day is it's own battle, but I, along with thousands of missionaries across the world, just take it one day at a time. Like our prophet has said, "Life by the yard is hard. Life by an inch is a cinch." That's what I'm trying to do. When I get discouraged about the language, or I miss friends and family, or I doubt if I am strong enough, I just look at it as one obstacle to climb over... then onto the next one. I think life is like that too. We aren't meant to fly through life. We are meant to take it step by step, and when we slip, just get up and keep walking. There are so many amazing people here, and they are such great examples to me as well. I love my companion, my district, and my branch! All these missionaries are so amazing! I love being a missionary even when it is hard. I have never been this incredibly happy all the time. There is just a pure joy in being on the Lord's time and errand. There is a joy in bringing others unto Christ. I know this church is true and that it has the fullness of the Gospel on the Earth today. I have a testimony that Christ lives and because of Him, we can repent and live with God again. I know the scriptures are true and that we can find comfort, strength, and guidance in them. I know that if we follow the pattern found in Moroni 10:3-5, and read the scriptures and pray with real intent and a sincere heart to know if they are true, that we will come to a knowledge for ourselves of the truth.

Love you! Miss you! Hope all is well! I want to know how everything is going for everyone. Till next week!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Almost Halfway

Today is day 24 @ the MTC! It is so weird to think that I have been here over 3 weeks now! Tuesday will be our halfway mark in the MTC... then it's all downhill from there... except not. The MTC is great! It's fun to meet missionaries from all over the world doing the same thing I am! I've also been learning all kinds of phrases in different languages. It's great to have a set schedule with so much time to learn and grow as a person and as a missionary, although I'm done with MTC food!

Saturday, we taught at the TRC for the first time. It was such a cool experience! The Mongolian TRC is very different from the English TRC. In the Mongolian TRC, they aren't role-playing, they are just being themselves. It is more for practice talking in Mongolian than teaching in Mongolian. We get assigned a room, and we don't know who we will be talking with. Our first room was a Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission RM (return missionary) named Isaac. He was very nice and helped us out if we couldn't think of the words or the phrasing. We talked about where he was from (Wilsonville!!!!! what a small world!), where he's studying, his mission, our favorite scriptures, and we bore our testimonies in Mongolian. We were nervous, but the 20 minutes flew by! After Isaac, we went to a different room where we talked with Josh who is also a Mongolia RM! At this point, I was more comfortable, so we were able to just chat and the words seemed to flow. We shared scriptures, and chatted about life, and so on! It was so amazing! #thoughtididntknowmongolian #butido

Sunday was our first normal Sunday here (we had fast Sunday and then general conference). Missionaries come prepared to speak a 5 minute talk on a designated topic. They will announce two speakers from the pulpit, and they are followed by a visiting. Sunday was about Faith in Jesus Christ. The branch president stands up to announce the speakers, and of course I was the first one. I honestly don't remember much of what I said, but I know that I shared some thoughts from Hebrews 11 (that chapter talks about the faith ancient people in the scriptures had), and bore my testimony in Mongolian.

BYU Men's Chorus came and performed on Sunday! They were so great! They did some awesome numbers! After they finished, I got to talk to some friends from my old ward that are in it, so that made my day! #shoutoutto171and172wards

We have taught a few more lessons to our progressing investigators, Choka and HapaaHbaaTap (naranbatar in english), and it is going great. I made a goal to not bring written out sentences into lessons, so all I take is a note card with some words, and a note card with our plan... then I put it together myself. Overall, I think I can say what I need to say and they understand. The spirit is strong and we are really good at bearing our testimonies in Mongolian, so thats good. I've also started only saying my prayers in Mongolian, it is so powerful! There is something about praying in this language that just speaks to my heart... if that makes sense.

Elder Zwick of the 70  and his wife spoke on Tuesday, and they said so much that I just loved!!!! It is so special being able to learn from General authorities on a weekly basis here at the MTC. We are so incredibly lucky! Also, it SNOWED on Wednesday... and for real! What is that about?! It is the middle of April!

This week, our district started a wall of no return. We write English words on sticky notes if we know them in Mongolian and put them on the wall. We can no longer say these words, and if we do then we have to carry this big heavy rock we found. It's been a good way to transition and to watch what we are saying. It's definitely gotten a lot of attention around the MTC though. Everyone asks us why in the world are we carrying around a big rock... and then we try and explain, but a lot of the words we want to use we can't say anymore, so that makes things difficult, haha.

Our beloved Mongolian sister left this week for her mission :( BUT, we also got a new sister from Mongolia in our branch, and we are getting another one next week!!!! It's so fun to get to know these girls and talk to them in Mongolian and about Mongolia! I seriously love this people and the language!

I am constantly amazed by how much I am learning. I love my companion and my district and my branch! Our teachers are fantastic! Life is great! I love being a missionary and I love this Gospel!!

All the missionaries going to Mongolia

Temple walk is the best!

Snow in April?

My desk in my room.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Conference Rocks!

First of all, thanks for all the dearelder letters, we look forward to each evening hoping we got mail!!! I also got the packages!!They were so awesome!! Thank you!! I shared the Mozart Balls with some sisters in our branch from Germany and Switzerland and we all talked about Germany/Austria/etc. It was so great to connect with these sisters and reminisce. Also, the sticky guys that climb down the wall have been so hilarious during class and in our room... it really is our only entertainment. We even have races with them :)

I love the chance we have to go to the temple once a week! It's so fantastic to spend time in the House of the Lord and feel the Holy Spirit so strongly. I always look forward to 1 o'clock on Fridays and it never seems to come fast enough... just a few more hours!!

General Conference this weekend was AMAZING!!!!! It is also such a cool experience to be in the MTC for conference. All the missionaries go to the big building where we have gym time and we watch the sessions together. As if listening to a modern day prophet and apostles wasn't already powerful, add the fact that you are in a room entirely full of missionaries called of God! Umm, seriously sooo cool!! I loved it!

I absolutely loved Elder L. Whitney Clayton's talk about life as our own personal spiritual wilderness and that we must traverse our own wilderness and find the path. He talked about the struggles and obstacles we will have and that we have things to help us. We have prayer as a compass to help direct our paths. We sometimes may get so lost or discouraged that we lose sight of what little light we were working towards, and the most important choice we can make at that point is just to believe! If we align our actions with our belief, we will be able to experience the magnificent rescue that will come.

I also loved Elder Wilford W. Anderson's about the idea of teaching someone to dance, but they won't dance unless they hear the music. This is exactly what we are told constantly in the MTC, regarding teaching people the Gospel. We can teach people how, but unless they know the why and hear the music themselves, they won’t want to do the how. We need to teach people, not lessons. The most important language I am learning to speak while in the MTC is the language of the Holy Ghost. I need to bring that spirit into the lessons, and the Holy Ghost will do the talking and testifying for me. I won't touch their hearts, the spirit will. I can only teach in Mongolian in very simple terms, and some times that is frustrating for me, but I know it doesn't matter if the Holy Ghost is there teaching the rest-- the investigator will want to listen and to dance.

Loved this quote from Elder Dale G. Renlund  "God cares a whole lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than who we used to be."

Of course Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk was amazing as usual.  I'm not even going to get into all the awesomeness of this talk, but I would urge everyone to take the time to listen to it or read it again!

Sunday night devotional, we had a special surprise... drum roll... Vocal Point came! They are the acapella group from BYU. They performed hymns and a few other uplifting selections (Disney and Newsies and some pop music)... and some Christmas music, because well, they can :) They would also share mission experiences in between songs, so that was pretty cool. It was a great way to relax before a new week.

We have two investigators now. Both of our teachers act as an investigator they had on their missions in Mongolia. I love these lessons so much. It truly feels like we are teaching these investigators, not our teachers. I have such a strong desire to teach them the gospel; the things I know are true. The Holy Ghost is present and strong during lessons and I often say things in Mongolian that I didn't know I knew how to say. It's so amazing! Also, tomorrow, we will be going to the TRC for the first time!!! The TRC is where we go teach Mongolian speaking people from around this area. They volunteer to come and be taught, and we will get to know them and share the gospel with them. Kind of nervous, but so excited!

Thursdays are definitely the longest and hardest... it’s like our end of the week because we have P-Day today. Emotions are on edge, minds are burnt out, and it’s just hard! Anyways, there were some tears shed, but I think I got even more spiritually yesterday. I think when you are the most frail is when the spirit can truly comfort and strengthen you.

There are so many awesome people here and I have made so many friends from all over the world!!! Most of the people we have met and most of the people in our branch are leaving next week, so that's a bit said. But, we are so excited for what they will begin in their assigned missions!! Just 6 more weeks till that’s me!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

All the sisters going to Mongolia.

My companion Sister Westover & I on a temple walk.

Sisters in our branch.

Love my new name tag!

Hard but good

I've officially been in the MTC over a week!!! What?!?! It's strange how time feels here. Some days seem to fly by and others drag on forever. It is strange to think that we are no longer the newbies here at the MTC. Saturday was incredibly difficult, it was our first day of 9 hours in the classroom (3 hours after breakfast, 3 hours after lunch, and 3 hours after dinner), and let me tell you... it starts to make you crazy! This schedule definitely has its ups and downs. On the upside, we get to know each other very well, we are continuously learning and growing in the language, and we always know where we need to be, on the downside, you start to get antsy in such a small room in a chair for hours on end, we don't have a window, and we start to wear on each other a bit I think. Saturday afternoon, we taught our first investigator in Mongolian! It is actually one of our teachers acting out one of the investigators he had in Mongolia, so it actually feels real. It went alright... we could tell him what we wanted to say, it was just slow, but we couldn't answer questions because we just don't have the vocab or grammar down yet.

It really is true what people say- "just make it to Sunday." Sunday is definitely one of my favorite days of the week! It's so nice to spend a day to be spiritually fed and not worry about the language. Our branch includes the missionaries going to Mongolia (the 9 of us), and missionaries who speak another language and some English and are placed in the advanced ESL. This means that we basically have an international branch. Listening to their testimonies was so powerful, even though their English is simple and often difficult to understand, their spirit is present and strong!

Monday, we had class, class, and more class! Missionary life is hard and exhausting, but so rewarding. We taught Choka again on Monday and it went better, but we are still struggling with answering his questions throughout the lesson. Mongolian is getting better, and we are beginning to build on what we know. Tuesday two of our roommates left at 2 am for their missions, so we didn't sleep much. We started our day with a service project; Sister Westover and I vacuumed the entire top floor and entrances of the main building! The hallways are lined with pictures of missionary work across the world though, so that was kind of cool to look at while we worked.

I am growing so quickly in this language!! It is amazing how much I can say and understand and read now, compared to what I could do a week ago. I know the Lord's hand is in this. There is no way I could do this without Him. We taught Choka a 3rd time and it went great!! We even were able to answer some of his questions and we explained prophets to Him. We taught Him the plan of Salvation and gave him a Book of Mormon.. he was definitely touched by the Spirit. Wednesday, a new batch of missionaries reported to the MTC, so we are now officially veterans, haha. It was so fun being the one to say "welcome to the MTC.” Our last roomie left at 2am on Wednesday, and we didnt get new ones, so it’s just the two of us in our room now.
Thursday we did another service project, so that was great! It’s always nice to wear some pants and a t-shirt instead of the Sunday best every day. We taught Choka again, and it was the best lesson yet!!! We even invited him to get baptized and he said that he wants to, but wants to learn more about the church first. So exciting!!!! Also, we got our Mongolian name tags... my name looks so funny in their alphabet :)

One of the strangest, but one of my favorite things here is how often we pray. I think I say around 20 prayers a day, and I can definitely notice the difference in my prayers since I've started my mission. I really pour out my heart and soul in my prayers now, and I can feel it strengthening my testimony of God and of this Gospel. I have seen so much growth spiritually while here, and I am definitely coming closer to Christ in all I do.

Please write me!!!! I love to hear from you and want to know whats going on in the outside world! Love you and miss you!