Hola mi familia y amigos!!
I'M HERE! I'M ON MY MISSION! IT'S MY FIRST P-DAY EVER! I am in the process of writing some actual letters, since I only have an hour to write emails and send pictures, so this one is going to be made up almost entirely of my journal entries since I arrived!
Today is Friday, August 8, 2014. I have been a missionary, officially, since Tuesday night at around 10pm, and I have been here at the Provo Missionary Training Center (West Campus! since Wednesday at 1:15. After I was dropped off by my family, I received my missionary badge and my language materials. I was put on a bus and taken to Wyview Apartments (super nice!). A fellow Hermana helped me drop off my suitcases, and then I was off to class. Class had already started, and they sat me down by my new companion, Hermana Heinz from St. George. We answered a few "Get-To-Know-Yous" in Spanish, then boarded a bus to the chapel for a "People and Our Purpose" meeting. This was an incredible time in which we were introduced to real investigators and prompted to ask them questions, get to know them, figure out their concerns, etc. The biggest lesson I learned from this (or re-learned, rather) was the infinite importance of simplicity, and what it means to truly listen. This experience had me smiling ear-to-ear - it was SO exciting. Our last activity of the night was meeting the zone leaders and sister training leaders. We did more get-to-know-yous, met our zones, and didn't make it home until 9:45. No time for journal-ing, just a quick shower and off to bed!
I woke up the next day at 6:00, automatically. It was nice because I was ready in about 20 minutes and had time to unpack and get my things together for the day. After breakfast, we headed to the chapel again for part II of "People and Our Purpose." This was another beneficial meeting where we took notes on "learning about the investigatro." I learned from this that it's important to acknowledge the obvious. We listened to an audio recording of a young woman who obviously had cancer... in my notes, I realized I wrote down everything I noticed about her BUT that she had cancer! That was a great learning experience, because I realized that many of my observations were assumptions.
After this meeting, we went back to our classroom and joined our district in watching videos about the "Study Cycle." We were told what types of things to do during Personal Study, Companion Study, and Language Study, which we will be doing every day for one our each. Mi Hermana and I used the time we were given to try to learn to pray en espanol. We then changed for gym, but other sisters were playing soccer on the field (we didn't want to be the only sisters in the gym) so we went back to our apartment to do yoga! Jejejejeje... After lunch, it was back tot he classroom for Spanish with Hermana Captain. We watched a video that introduced us to "our investigator," named Jesus Benjamin. We went through a small study cycle, and came up with questions to ask him, and a few other ideas for teaching.
We had a quick dinner, then we were sent off to a meeting with our Branch Presidency. We first had a small testimony meeting, in which each of us got up and shared a bit about our lives before the mission, why we chose to serve...and our testimonies! I loved hearing why each member of my branch felt they should serve, especially the sisters. I talked about how I've known that Heavenly Father has wanted me to build his kingdom in this way for quite some time, and has confirmed it many times in many ways over the years. After testimonies, we met the Branch President, President Shallenberger. We then listened to some advice from his first counselor, Slingerland, while we took turns meeting with shallenberger individually. He's very friendly, happy, and funny, and he put me at ease immediately.
We woke up early the next morning for our weekly serve - 6:15! I should mention that as of Friday morning our companionship became a trio. Hermana Tameilau joined Hermana Heinz and I because her companion moved to the 'INtermediate' Spanish class. The 3 of us were in charge of vacuuming classrooms. We did so until 7:30, then got ready for the day. After breakfast, it was time for class with Hermana Captain. I volunteered to pray for the class at the beginning en espanol, best I could! Friday I really started to feel more comfortable with my district, and I learned a lot because I wasn't afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. Gym time consisted of using an elliptical machine on a split with Hermana Leonard, one of our roommates who also likes to run!). We ate lunch with some other Hermanas who invited us into their apartment. I was excited to chat with one of them - Hermana Ellis, who I sang in choir with in high school! Friday afternoon was a memorable one - we taught our FIRST lesson! All in Spanish! For 30 minutes! WE actually were able to use what we knew about Jesus Benjamin from the video in our lesson, which was a blessing. We were scheduled to meet with him at 2:20, but we ended up teaching at about 2:40...the Elders who were supposed to teach first didn't realize that when we went info our afternoon class, Jesus was already waiting in one of the back rooms! We all sat, waiting, for him to show, for some 20 minutes when he was there the whole time! jejejeje doyyyy
Being very inexperienced Spanish speakers, we decided to teach Jesus about God's love. We thought he would respond to the topic because, from his introduction video, we knew that he believed in God but didn't know much about him. The lesson went just about as well as it could have gone, taking into account it was only our second full day and in an unfamiliar language., There were a few too many long pauses, and he caught us off-guard when he asked us how to pray (silly me, did not think to prepare for that). Luckily, Hermana T. remembered how to explain the steps (all I could remember was "first, address Heavenly Father"), to some extent! I tried to think positively afterward, but it was, of course, discouraging overall. I just had to keep reminding myself that I did well for only 2 days of training, and there WERE times in the lesson where Heavenly Father put words in my mouth that I hadn't studied much before. All in all, a great learning experience.
However, I became really uptight afterward and wanted to get started on our next lesson right away. My companions saw through my semi-fake smile and took me on a walk and let me know that it's okay (and necessary, in fact) to take a break if you need one. We learned a lot about each other on that walk. They definitely came to better understand that I'm somewhat of a stress case and perfectionist, that I'm working on fixing that, and I came to be more grateful for these two, who are my complete opposites, but are, at the same time, PERFECT for me. They keep me sane, they are brutally honest, and I thank the Lord for that.
The rest of Friday was Study cycle and we used it to plan and translate our next lesson for Jesus. It was a long day, but our experience teaching earlier made for a great planning session. We decided to introduce to him yet again God's love, and this time lead it into the Plan of salvation. We taught on Saturday night, after a day of stressing and practicing. It went so well! We were able to get him to commit to reading 2 Nephi 2 and when I bore my testimony of God's love in Spanish i just about teared up. We did well ad ad-libbing, and weren't as timid as before. It was a great stepping stone, and led into our necxt lesson about the plan of salvation well. That about gets me to today: Sunday. Oh, waht a day! We got some breakfast foods at the creamery Saturday nigh so we could have a little more time in the morning to finish some things. Our day started with a district meeting led by the branch president himself. He told us about plenty of mission experiences where he didn't handle problems with his companions very well. He gave us a process to use when bringing up an issue and advised us to apply the process to every aspect of our lives. We then headed to Relief Society, where we listened to music and the Spoken Word and then listened to a sister Rose speak to us about George Albert Smith's mother and what we can learn from her courage and strength. sacrament was next, and the way it works here is that we all write a talk in Spanish and bring it with us every Sunday then they'll call on us randomly to speak in the middle of the meeting. Luckily, i didn't get called on, but i did have my talk written just in case! That night's devotional on main campus was incredible, and I don't have enough time here to explain it all, so i encourage you all to look up "the Character of Christ" by Bednar. Possibly one of THE MOST INCREDIBLE, LIFE CHANGING THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD. I cried for the first time that night, since getting into the MTC, just realizing how lucky i was to be there.
I haven't caught up in my journal for Monday and Tuesday (and actually, most of Sunday!), so I won't get to go into too much detail. Monday was wonderful, we taught our investigator about the Atonement and it went super well. I tried to write less notes and teach by the Spirit, and i stumbled a lot, but I was truly trying to listen to him and think before i spoke, and i think he could tell. The Spirit was definitely there! Highlight of Tuesday was singing in the Tues. night devotional - we showed up because we wanted to join the choir and then got put on the second row and we barely knew the song because we didn't go to the practice Sunday! I think we caught on well, though. Great devotional about repentance and how as missionaries we need to get on that ASAP.
Okay, so that's a basic run-down of what's been going on here...now some thoughts! Wow, people. I seriously have no words to describe what this past week has been like. I've felt a million different emotions, and not all of them have been great, but i can truly and honestly say that every single thing that has happened, good and bad, has done nothing but confirm to me that THIS WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE. I LOVE IT HERE. I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT. I love it here because I do love this Gospel, and I am completely surrounded by it. I'm the luckiest girl there ever was! I am full of energy, I can sleep at night and wake up in the morning, my roommates/companions are SO funny and perfect for me, oh, and did i mention that I've seen just about a billion people i know?! First of all, my friend Andrew Scott from BYU is my district leader, my old YW leader Brittany's little brother (Lavery) is in my zone, I've seen Mckay Demars a quatrillion times, I've seen Jamee Bonner a ton, Mckayla Johnstone, Lauren Gull, Stephen Buma...I know there have been tons more but I'm totally blanking! Oh, and a few of Christian's friends have recognized me and introduced themselves, and Mitch Morris from high school came up to me also. I love life, and I love this church, and THANK YOU ALL for your letters and emails and your love and your prayers! Can't wait to tell you all about my new adventures next week!
Love you all!