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, May 31, 2015

Needles, Stinging Nettles &Wild Dogs‏

So, I'm in Mongolia! It was a LONG trip, but we made it! We left Provo on Tuesday morning, took the Frontrunner and the Trax, then flew to Houston, 7 hour layover, flew to Beijing (15ish hour flight), then a 14 hour layover in Beijing (we got delayed), then to Mongolia.... we got here Friday morning Mongolia time. I am so done with traveling!

Friday we had to do some training stuff at the mission home, had dinner with Elder Wong of the 70 and the president’s family, and we went to a sketchy hospital. Let me just say I have never seen a hospital like that. They had to do some tests for immigration purposes, and they drew blood.... BUT they did it FROM MY HAND!! It was the worst, and the entire top of my hand has been bruised since then!! I'm trying to come up with a story about how I got it... accepting suggestions.

On Saturday, we got our companions and started our mission life. My companion is Sister Sneddon from Park City. She is absolutely amazing!! She has been out 18 months and extended her mission a month to train me (I'll have her for 5 weeks, then I'll be given a different trainer). We have two areas: Bayanzurkh and Nailakh. We have the biggest are in the mission, so we definitely have a lot of work to do. The areas are both gir districts, so the people we teach are extremely poor. It is so humbling to be in their homes, eating the little food they have that they give us, and walking around those areas. I love the people already and am so amazed by them. They will walk miles carrying their gallons of water that they get from a well... wow!

Sunday, we went to church at our branch. There were about 40 people. I was asked to stand and introduce myself and bear my testimony, so I did and they se
emed to understand, woohoo! I also had a couple conversations by myself with people... woohoo again! I don’t understand most of what is being said, but I can pick out words and follow along and give my input. I've even taught a few lessons and they more or less understand what I'm saying.

We went to visit and teach a less active family yesterday, and when we walked inside their tin fence towards their gir, their dog attacked me... I saw my life flash before my eyes... seriously though, and they are building a bashin (house of sorts) out of bricks, so there were piles of bricks behind me. I had my jacket in front of me ready to go all matador style on that dog (or monster I should say). Luckily, the kids got the dog in time and took it away, and we went inside their gir to teach. I was lucky enough to get away without a bite.

It's so crazy walking down these dirt roads. There are cows and wild dogs that wonder the streets. It is so different and amazing. I love it here.

This morning we went to a monument where Mongolia was actually dedicated for the work. It was amazing!! President shared these thoughts: When he was serving, a member of the 70 came and spoke, and during the middle of his talk stopped and said, "I feel impressed to share that the pure blood of Israel runs through your veins." God truly has preserved Mongolia for a special purpose. In Jacob 5, it talks about the lord’s vineyard and the 4th period is the gathering of Israel... that is happening here in Mongolia. I feel so privileged to be serving here and helping these people.
Also, as we were walking back from the monument, I stepped into a stinging nettle, and boy is it bad... I have a lizard-like bubbly foot now.. oh well. Tis the life of a missionary in Mongolia.

My first Mongolian meal!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane... 16 Months & I'll Be Back Again!

I don’t have a ton of time to email today because we are packing and getting ready to leave, but here are the quick updates:

We finished our English teaching certification!! We went to the BYU ELC and observed and taught classes. It was such an amazing experience! I loved the people and it was so cool to see how much learning English was helping these people. They truly had a desire to learn English, and it made teaching all the better. We had the chance to interview some of the students in the hallways: one student told me that she is an industrial engineer and she was learning English so she could have more and better opportunities in her field (and she wants to get an MBA too), another student told me that he was learning English because he loves web design but all the coding is in English, and a third student told me, she hates the barriers that are created from not knowing English. I had never thought about it this way before... I am breaking down barriers for these people: with jobs, social groups, entertainment, and so much more! How amazing is that?! I am so lucky to be teaching English as a part of my mission!  

Two of the sisters in our group have been reassigned to the California Irvine mission while they wait for visas. It’s a little sad that they won’t be coming with us right away, but we will see them soon I’m sure.

That's about all. Love you all and hope you are all doing well! Just want to leave you with a scripture. It's really great and I love it so much! Mosiah 24:14-16 -read it. This scripture is one of God's promises to us, that when we have burdens, trials or struggles, the Lord can help ease them and carry them. If we pray sincerely and with faith, and ask for the strength needed, the Lord will help us. We need to have faith and trust in the Lord's timing to receive these promised blessings.

Talk to you next week from Mongolia!!!!

Our Mongolian group
Climbing the walls (sort of), a request from my brother Tim!

Friday, May 15, 2015

ESL Training

We have been learning some pretty difficult Mongolian grammar this week like adjective clauses and verb connectors and so on. It's hard, but it's so cool when I kinda get it! I love this language! I don't know how to describe it, but there is something so powerful about the language, and I feel the spirit so strongly while teaching or praying in this language. I've thought about that a lot, and I think it all comes back to the thought that the Lord calls you to serve in the place you will touch lives, and the Lord calls you to serve in the language that you will preach the most strongly. Now, I definitely have a very simple grasp on the language, but it seems to be enough. Often simple is the best way to teach anyways. The foundation of the gospel is what people need to learn, and the foundation while most important is the most simple. Anyways, I love Mongolian!!!

Monday was awesome.. first of all, my teacher and I matched, so of course we had to take pictures.

We had two gym times (gym, lunch, and gym again), our schedule had given us two because we wouldn't get gym once we started ELC training... so 2 1/2 hours of volleyball it is! It was so fun!

Wednesday we had our four hour intro to ELC training. It basically reviewed what we had learned in the online training and prepped us for the classroom stuff.  Yesterday, we took a field trip to the BYU ELC center for the chunk of our training (we'll be doing that every morning next week). It was so awesome! We observed different classes as companionships. Sister Westover and I got to
observe a foundations prep class which is the lowest level there. I loved them so much! Those students were so enthusiastic and excited about English. They picked up on things fast and were just so fun to be around. I was very impressed at how much they already knew since they had just started this week. I could tell that they really wanted this and that English truly will change their lives. I can't wait to teach English in Mongolia! Oh, and we get to teach that class on Monday!!! It's going to be so fun!

I know this church is true and the Book of Mormon is the truest of any book on the earth. I have come to a real testimony of prayer while here. Prayer is so important. It is both a commandment and a gift from God, and I know that if we pray with sincerity, he will bless us and help us and answer us. I invite all of you to pray to God sincerely with questions and gratitude.

Love you all! Keep me updated on your life!
Heading out on our ESL field trip.

We've got our travel plans!!!!

My awesome international branch!

Some of our favorite elders.

Getting ready to call home on Mother's Day

Friday, May 8, 2015

I'm Never Leaving ...

MTC life hasn't really changed that much... we have class, class, oh and more class. And sometimes we get to eat or go outside, haha. It's crazy to think that in about 2 weeks, I will get on a plane heading to Mongolia!!! What?!!

On Saturday, we had our last in-person TRC visit. We taught an 18 yr old Mongolian that is here going to Timp High. He is a recent convert to the church and has a burning testimony... it is so cool to talk to him! For gym on Saturday, we got a couple zones together at the field and played a huge game of kickball! It was so fun and super intense! It was so hilarious though because our zone is full of missionaries from all over the world, and none of them had ever heard of kickball, so we had to try and explain it... they kind of understood, but it made for some funny moments :)

Sunday was fantastic!!! It was fast Sunday, so we had testimony meeting and all of the missionaries in our branch had such amazing testimonies to share. Sunday night, President Holland (Elder Holland's son, who is president of UVU) came and did a special devotional all about Joseph Smith. He told stories about Joseph's life and experiences, and the UVU choir sang hymns in between. We (the MTC choir) sang with the UVU choir at the end. We sang Praise to the Man... wow was it powerful!  It was such an amazing devotional, and it definitely strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith. I truly do know that he was a prophet of God, and that God did work through him to restore the gospel on the earth today. I wish you all could have been at the devotional... it was that amazing!

We started SYL (speak your language) this week. Its when we only speak Mongolian. It's hard, but very helpful. It will definitely help make the transition to Mongolia a bit easier, and we are learning a ton as we try and communicate in just Mongolian. So weird... I can speak Mongolian.

On Wednesday, we had our first TRC Skype apt. We skyped with a sister from Mongolia!!! She was so incredibly sweet and wonderful! She is a member, she is widowed, and she served a mission in England!! How cool is that! She was so kind and said that we actually spoke very well and that we will be great missionaries. How cool is that?! I loved it, and I can’t wait to get to Mongolia! Also, we had a plot twist with Haraahbaatar. He has moved to the country (happens a lot in Mongolia), so we won’t be teaching him anymore. Instead, we taught a member referral. I can't remember his name, but he believes in Shamanism, so that made things interesting for sure.

Yesterday, we had language assessments. Who knew you would be tested in the MTC?! We had to talk to an RM who used to teach here for 15 minutes each. He asked us questions, had us teach him, bear our testimony, and read to him while he evaluated our language. We also did a written assessment as well. I hope it went well. We also played a Mongolian game with sheep/goat knuckles. I don't know how to explain it, but it was pretty fun! We played with bones, haha!!

Well, I'm out of time, but I want to hear from everyone about your lives!!! I love this gospel, I love the Book of Mormon, and I love being a missionary!
Just doing laundry at the MTC

Message from our teacher: Good luck, you all rock, I love you!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quick Updates

This week was pretty fantastic! We've had absolutely beautiful weather, and we get to go to the field across the street for gym time, so that's fantastic! I don't have a lot of time, but here are the updates:

-I'm glad you go the Mongolian candy I is dried milk curds. The white ones are goat milk, and the yellow are horse milk. Yep, no lies!

-All us Mongolian missionaries and Sister Enkbaht from Mongolia performed a musical number in sacrament on Sunday. We sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" in Mongolian to a special arrangement a Sister in our branch created for us... it was so BEAUTIFUL!!! It's moments like these that help me to realize the gospel is just as true and powerful in every language :) I love Mongolian!

-Lessons with Choka, one of our investigators are going awesome! We have taught him almost everything at this point, and he is getting baptized next week! He has really developed a happiness and excitement for this Gospel. We didn't even have to invite him to church this week, he just said "See you at church sisters!" How cool is that?! He has also stopped drinking and is working on his relationship with his wife and 2 yr old son- they are separated. This gospel is truly changing his life for the better! I love teaching him!

-Some of our closest friends here at the MTC left this week for their missions, so that was difficult. It's sad to lose them, but it's so happy and exciting what they are leaving to do. It is really amazing to see friends all united in purpose in all areas of the world!

-I saw a few friends from wards at BYU this week at the MTC!!! It's so great to see them; it really feels like tender mercies from the Lord.

-The MTC president sat with us at lunch a few days ago, and we got to talk to him for a while. He is such an awesome man, and has so much to share with us. He gave us some great advice and it was fun to get to know him as well.

-It was our teacher’s birthday this week, so I made him a gift. I bought a mini Book of Mormon- he loves the mini ones- and our district marked our favorite scriptures in it for him, with a sweet message as well. It was so great to give back to someone who does so much to help each of us.

-Elder Hallstrom spoke to us on Tuesday. He is a president of the seventy. He told a lot of great stories and gave some great advice. One of my favorite things he said was that disobedience can become a barrier between a missionary and the spirit. That is why we have so many rules and strive for exact obedience.

-We got a new group of missionaries in our branch this week, so that was awesome. They are from all over the place; Tonga, Samoa, China, South Korea, Cambodia, Philippines, Sweden, and many other places too! They are so awesome and have so much to share with us.

-Sister Westover and I were made Sister Training Leaders, so we are now in charge of the sisters in our branch/zone. We currently have about 10, but we are supposed to get 20 more next week, so we will be busy. We help these sisters a lot during the first few days. We guide them, teach them, nurture them, and just make sure they are doing well. I am so excited to help these sisters and hopefully be a good example to them.

-I don't know if I ever shared this, but I just thought it was cool: the word for gospel in Mongolia actually translates to Good News. How fitting is that? The gospel truly is good news. It's the Lord's good news, and I get to share that with people for the next 18 months!

-We have a pretty awesome group of Mongolian missionaries here, and we have definitely gotten to know each other well. We have had some seriously funny moments and stories come out. Well this week, we found out that after high school, one of the elders in our group spent 3 months alone in the sierra nevadas. He only took a water bottle, a knife, a garbage bag, a watch, and some rope. How nuts is that?! 3 months alone and he seems to be okay, haha. He really is awesome, but we were just all amazed that somebody would do that and survive. He definitely had some good laughs over lunch about that, haha.