Well HELLO AGAIN! It is I, your favorite missionary, sending you warm wishes from chilly Provo.
Allow me to tell you all about many things in a very disjointed manner. The first thing I want to relate is how the Atonement of Jesus Christ has taken on all new meaning since I have been here. I encourage you to reread all of the talks from General Conference, and rewatch or watch for the first time the video from an older talk from Elder Holland called "And none were with Him" - I believe it is on MormonMessages. Powerful stuff. I am so grateful for the Atonement and have made a personal goal to try to understand it and apply it more each day that I am on my mission.
Also, there is an Elder Here - Elder Mackey - who looks just like Clay Aiken, American Idol Season 2 days. We called him Elder Aiken. He brightens our days.
We have had two opportunities now to teach what is called a Law and Order lesson, where our whole district goes into a room where we can look in on a teaching situation and talk about what is happening, while the people teaching inside the room cannot hear or see us. We then rotate in and out when we feel we want to take the lesson a certain way, use a certain scripture, or just save one of our fellow drowning missionaries. It really is a cool experience to have a Benson and Stabler view of a missionary lesson. I have memorized D&C Section 4, Joseph Smith's account of the 1st vision, 3 Ne 17:20-22, Alma 32:27, and John 3:16-17 since I have been here. I promise to be a scriptorian when I get home. We have had two companionship inventories since we've been here - with nothing really to talk about. They end up being like "this is what I wish I was better at so I'll tell you to be better at it so it helps me in turn" sessions. I am falling in love with the resource that is Preach My Gospel. It is truly amazing the tool that I have had for so long but never really utilized. I wish I could just memorize the whole book. I swear if you could get everyone in the world to read that thing, we've convert the Earth. In my personal study I have been making doctrine sheets, for each principle of each lesson that has the main points, scriptures, questions, commitments, examples, hymns and keywords that you could use in the lesson. To put that in perspective there are 8 principles in the 1st lesson, 8 in the 2nd, and 6 in the 3rd. I haven't even gotten to the 4th or 5th. It is very time consuming but my organizational tendencies from Mesa High have stuck with me and I just have to make them for any sort of sanity in making my lesson plans. I've gotten used to the chivalry of the MTC - Elders always opening doors for you, taking your trays after meals, calling eachother Elder and Sister. That will be a hard transition once we're back in the real world. I like it!
Oh speaking of Mesa High, I thought I came out here packed with resources since I'm a teacher, but teaching here is a totally different ball game. Key ingredient? The Spirit. Without it, it doesn't matter what kind of preparation you have or teaching skills, the lesson and the investigator will totally pwn you if you don't have the Spirit. Our companionship learned that the hard way in this ridiculous TA experience with these ladies who intentionally were trying to make us screw up in our lesson. Kept bringing up polygamy, offering us coffee, etc etc. I became very grateful instantly that I wasn't serving stateside, when they knew all this stuff about the church that was false and we had to correct. But we have had good teaching experiences too. We got to teach another TA to Dave and Louise, these "investigators" who were an older Christian married couple. It was our follow up visit. We taught the 2nd lesson - the Spirit was so strong, I totally cried as I bore my testimony about the Kingdoms of Glory of all things, and we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and committed them to baptism and they agreed! We also got to teach our teacher, Brother Haslem, just as him. We had to prepare a lesson for him, and we did it about making choices and feeling God's love for him and committed him to go to the temple that week. We have a follow up lesson on Saturday. It went really well also.
Speaking of Brother H, the guy is AMAZING. He's so funny first of all, and has a problem of making up statistics during class. Like "90% of investigators will do this" but CONSTANTLY. It has become a funny inside joke in class now to count how many times he does it. He also had us do this plan of salvation activity one night, where we went around looking at pictures of missionaries and the Savior and wrote about what we really thought the plan of salvation was all about. He taught this amazing lesson about why it is called the plan of happiness, how truly merciful our Heavenly Father is because of the grace of Jesus Christ, and what we truly have in store for us after this life. I cannot do it justice in this e-mail, but suffice it to say it was a life changing experience. I will be forever grateful for Brother Haslem for following the Spirit that night and teaching me something I really needed to hear.
I've had many struggles since I've been here - gotten down on myself about my abilities, about why the heck I'm even out here. But I'm glad to have strong companions and amazing teachers that keep lifting me up each time I feel like giving up. I haven't felt anxiety out here as much as I thought I was going to, and I'm thankful for that. I had to give a complely impromptu talk on faith in Sacrament meeting on Sunday which normally I would have been terrified about, but I just got up and spoke. I actually liked it, and being the only sisters in our zone gives us advantages because the Elders automatically listen to us cause they think we're some sort of strange species that must be studied. We also had to give an impromptu talk on humility in our zone activity, which also went well. We got to go walk around the temple on Sunday and take a lot of fun pictures - it was nice to feel free! We've gone to the temple twice now, just got back from there actually. It was kinda sad thinking today was the last day I'd be at a temple session until after my mission, but it gave me motivation to work my tail off in Jamaica so my brothers and sisters there could have a temple built. I felt really sick this morning too, and thought I wasn't gonna even be able to make it. But thanks to prayer and drugs the second I sat down in the session I felt 100% better! Thank goodness :)
I have hymns stuck in my head constantly. My favorite hymns of all time are Be Still My Soul, How Firm a Foundation, Abide with Me tis Eventide, Praise to the Man, and I know that my redeemer lives. I haven't really felt the sacrifice of all the little things like I thought I would - music, tv, etc. I haven't even missed it all that much. The mantle is real as long as you do your best to fill that gap between who you were before and who the Lord wants you to be now. There are real sincere blessings of being here that I couldn't even picture before. You can't even imagine if you aren't doing it. I'm so happy every single day, even during the hardest parts, that I'm out here and I'm doing this. My head hits the pillow at night with the knowledge I'm where God wants me to be, and it's only gonna get harder but it's only gonna get better.
This is my last e-mail in Utah. On 4/20 (hahahahahaha. I know) at 3:00am we leave here, head to Dallas Ft Worth, then to Miami, then to Kingston Jamaica. We arrive in Kingston at 8:00pm and I officially hit the big time. I'm scared. I'm nervous. But I am excited and I hope to keep being able to work hard and love what I'm doing and invite people to come unto Christ. I get my visa and all my travel stuff the day we leave. Hopefully it all goes well.
I want to commit everyone reading this to make a solid effort to slow down the closing of your prayers. As you close in the name of Jesus Christ, really think about whose name you are closing in. Think about what it means, why we even do it. Don't rush it, and I promise you'll feel a difference as you pray.
Joseph Smith gave his life for the work. As did so many of the saints. As did my Savior. I hope to do everything I can to remember that while I'm out here. Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of those He knew wouldn't accept Him, and would not repent. I hope to waste and wear out my life for everyone I meet, regardless of whether or not they accept the message I have to bring them.
I've loved the song CALLED TO SERVE since childhood. It was the first hymn I memorized. I love it even more now.
Log on to watch the MormonMessages video of the Apostles Testifying Today of Christ. It is AWESOME.
I have so much more to say but I am running out of time. I love you all. Thanks for all the letters and encouragement. Keep those dearelder.com's coming. They get here lightning speed and they'll still be free and fast once I am in Jamaica. It really is the easiest way to contact me.
Hope everyone is safe and happy.
The church is SO true!
All the love in the world,