The MTC. I'm New Here... and Loving It!
February 29, 2012 date of snail mail letter received on March 3, 2012
Originally in French,
an amazing poem Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared:
"Come to the edge," He said.
"No, we'll fall."
"Come to the edge," He said.
"NO! WE'LL FALL!"
"COME to the edge!" He said.
So we came to the edge.
He pushed us!.......
And we flew!
Number 1: I LOVE YOU!
I've had some "sightings." Sister Schlant [from hometown Vacaville] and I ran into each other when Sister Sessions and I were late to class. We got a pic and compared schedules...we don't have anything the same except our P-days. [Preparation day is one day a week for laundry, email home, and other preparations for the rest of the week.] She lives a floor beneath me. I think there are 2 buildings where the sisters live. The basement and first floors are classrooms. The other two floors are sisters' quarters. I think it's the same in the other place; but, honestly, I don't know which building the other sisters' quarters are.
Sister Sessions and I wandered around and apparently found the old mailroom and bookstore. We get $8/week. I'm not sure if they charge your card for meals and laundry. They have you swipe it, though. We have to swipe cards to get in every building. Our "missionary card" has a number on it and a pic they took and printed the first day. Also, the first day, the host elders directed me to a building where a sister helped me with my stuff. She was from Ukraine. Her English was super cute.
While being checked in, I got to know--er, maybe just overheard--the sister in front of me explaining to the check-in lady that she's going to Brazil but will be here for 3 weeks. JUST last night, I remembered, Megan Chipman had explained to me that her friend was reporting the same day as I AND was going to Brazil, participating in the pilot program. I thought, "What are the odds?" I chimed in, asking her to reiterate her situation. I then asked, "Is your last name 'Sessions'?" She looked at me all creeped out and said. "Yeeees." I excitedly told her Megan Chipman said hi. She then said what a tender mercy that was--like a piece of BYU was with her. While we rode the elevator and entered our floor, the helper sisters explained WE WERE COMPANIONS! So TIGHT!!!
We weren't allowed to unpack until about 8:30 that night. Instead, after dropping off our luggage, we went to that room where we used to bawl our eyes out [she's talking about the large orientation room used for the "old" drop-off routine] and received a small packet of junk--uh, I mean VERY IMPORTANT junk. We also received our NAMETAG, got our picture taken, and then BAM! we walked to the end of the room to pick up our "missionary card" WITH the pic on it! Impressive!
Moments later, in that same BIG room, we had a conference with the MTC president and his counselors. (Did you know that here in the MTC, there are not only districts and zones, but also branch presidents and counselors? So, those we attend Sacrament Meeting with consist of only about 3 districts.) The conference was GREAT! The bazillion opening songs we sang ALL applied to missionary work, and some of them I hadn't realized until then that they were missionary hymns! We also sang "...and we are NOW the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth." Cute :)
So much more do I need to trust in the Lord than I have before. It is not my message to give, but my testimony to share. His message is this: He loves us. He wants us to grow and love Him and love His children. He wants us to repent and access Him through His atonement. He wants us to be HAPPY! That is why God gave His only begotten Son, so we wouldn't be racked with torment over sins of mortality. He has also given prophets throughout the dispensations to guide us through the "wilderness" we have wandered. If we are to return to Him and live with Him forever, we must repent and listen to His words, which come from revelation to His prophets and written down in records called scriptures. The answers to life's tests are written out for us. We just need to act on faith and study and ponder His words. "Faith without works is dead." James 2:26 "Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 2 Nephi 32:3
I LOVE my teachers! Brother Crandall, a skinny, round-faced man, married, from SLC, just switched his major. He is as completely lost in majors as I am, which is comforting to me now that I think about it. He is so spiritual, and THAT'S what matters most! Brother Sikahema (mom is Hawaiian; dad is Tongan) is SUCH a hoot! He is so animated and excited about the gospel; a gentle busybody, if that makes sense. He also is SO GOOD at wording things and addressing touchy subjects directly, yet humbly and boldly. I love it. I get to dissect their teaching methods and try them out on actors/volunteers. Our teachers also act as progressing investigators. Talk about intimidating! Often I look at them as a case study and try to find the doctrine or scriptures that will unlock the key to them. However, not everyone thinks that logically. The gospel is so individualized. Similarly, the Holy Ghost is individualized. Brother Crandall was acting as an investigator who went to a baptism with a girl, whom he was supposed to accompany on a date later that same evening. They still went on a date, but he just felt so different, so... not himself. The girl just smiled and said he should talk to missionaries. While we were preparing for "Trevor" (actually Brother Crandall), I got the impression to share the scripture, "Be still, and know that I am God..." Psalms 46:10 That really struck him. It helped him understand why he felt so... quiet at the baptism.
Another "investigator" has helped me realize just how unique some investigators are. "Dave" had been baptized 3 years ago into a christian church, so he thinks he doesn't need to be baptized again. We've presented almost everything to him: modern revelation; modern prophets; explained authority; told that the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John; and said we wanted his baptism to be complete with the baptism by fire, which is the Holy Ghost! In my life, I have seen when an investigator is submissive. It really clicks when authority is understood--the authority that allows ordinances to be sealed on earth and in heaven AND that the baptism is made complete with the baptism by fire. For many of these investigators, we can only teach one concept per visit. Visit #1 God is a loving Heavenly Father. Visit #2 prophets. Visit #3 authority. Visit #4 connect the dots by explaining that Joseph Smith was a modern-day prophet. Visit #5 the restoration. It is so crucial that they connect the dots between truth in the Book of Mormon = Holy Ghost testifying = it's TRUE = Joseph Smith was a prophet = this church is true.
There is NOTHING this world can offer that brings greater peace and JOY than what is offered by our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. You get in good standing and you STAY THERE! ALL OF YOU! Repent every day! It is nothing of shame to access the atonement; it is something to rejoice over! Whatever burden you carry can be dropped off at the Bishop's door. Confess and forsake, and you are FREE from that weight! Do you really understand what a precious gift that is? "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." All you gotsa do is team up with Christ, and you can pull more weight than you EVER can alone! So you ask yourself, "How many acts of faith am I exercising every day?" If it's fewer than 10, then GET TO WORK! Toil by the sweat of your brow just as your ancestors, Adam and Eve, did. There are 2 major blessings we should be thankful for and should change our lives for. They are the atonement of Jesus Christ (which provides a way to overcome physical death through resurrection and to overcome spiritual death through repenting of our sins) and the gift of the Holy Ghost (our potentially constant companion, comforter, teacher, sanctifier, warner, interpreter of God, and growth barometer.)
Okay, so gym time is Monday 8:10-9:00 pm and Tuesday 7:55-8:45 AM. What the heck?? Gym is 4-5 days a week. On top of gym, Sister Sessions and I go to the special ladies' classes. Monday is step aerobics, Thursday is yoga, and Friday is kickboxing. May I just add a disclaimer? Although I was an intercollegiate athlete, I am the LEAST coordinated in that kickboxing class. Humbling.
Sunday night was a great fireside. Jeffrey R. Holland was somewhat harsh but bold in his talk. He first took about 8 minutes explaining how much missionaries are loved. We are probably the most prayed-for group in the WORLD. (Probably member and non-member, for we often answer prayers with a knock on the door.) He then said, "We expect a lot out of you. Grab you socks and pull them up to your armpits and get to work!" Also, "We expect super-human performance. We expect you to grow up practically overnight in the gospel." He reiterated that if there was a picture that defined this Church, it would be two missionaries. We have nearly 200 years of restoration tradition resting on our shoulders. He then--it was the sweetest thing--he then brought up President Brown's [Pres. Brown, the MTC president] 3 young grandsons and said, "You go on your mission for THEM. You do it for THEM! Don't you ever let them down!" So my dear Primary kids of the Vacaville 3rd Ward and a special shout-out to Sister Postak's class [Sister Nelson and Sister Postak have been team teachers for the Primary children's Valiant 10 class], I'm telling you right now that I'm going on a mission for YOU. YOU are my inspiration. I WILL NOT let you down, so you better not let ME down. You keep praying for us missionaries. You keep acting in faith, building your spiritual armor, and sharing the gospel (which literally means "good news") to your friends at school. Don't you dare be afraid of what you believe to be true. You choose the right even when you're the only person, because guess what? When you go on your mission, you can tell that story with conviction and without regret that you chose the right. I get to wear a nametag over my heart that reminds me that I must have Christ written on my heart, but the way YOU show that you have Christ written on your heart is by bearing your testimony. I love you. I miss you. Be strong, my stripling warriors.
Ah, MAN! What a soft-shell I'm turning out to be. Yesterday was the first day where I only shed two tears. Whew. There hasn't been a day here in the MTC where I haven't cried tears of joy. "Hurrah for Israel!!"
Lots of Love,