Monday, July 25, 2016
Last week in the MTC. I feel ready enough for Alaska and just want to be there right now. It's fairly hot here so Alaska is looking pretty nice right now. Our TRC investigators this week were so amazing. They are truly prepared by the Lord already that we are just helping them on their way down the path to eternal life. I've noticed every time we get through with a great lesson and the Spirit was able to guide us the whole time. I am able to climb the four flights of stairs with ease back to class. Yeah, sure, I'm still out of breath due to the high elevation here, but I don't struggle getting up them or even think about the stairs, I like learning how The Spirit strengthens me personally. Knowing for myself allows me to teach the power of the Holy Ghost to others better.
Our teachers this week helped us role play with less-active members. This is difficult because their concerns, I feel, are more advanced than investigators. We have to go into the lesson teaching the same things we would to an investigator but that is where "teaching people not lessons" comes into play. I feel we might have to do a lot of re-activating on the mission so this is good practice.
Tuesday our devotional speaker was Don R Clarke (Emeritus Seventy) who spoke about feeling the Spirit and being obedient. I felt inspired after that talk and wanted to do my best to be obedient. He posed a question that struck a chord in me: “Who are you to teach investigators to be obedient to the commandments when you aren't living the rules set in the missionary handbook?” I like this because he basically called us hypocrites, but in a self-reflective way. Also I want to strive to be a 9:30pm missionary; meaning that we should strive to be teaching a lesson for that half hour a day instead of going home at 9pm. Wednesday our district had the opportunity to host the new missionaries coming to the MTC. This was a little weird at first. I kept thinking "who am I, having only been here a couple of weeks, to give direction to new missionaries?" It wasn't until I finally hosted a sister missionary halfway through the drop off time that I felt prepared enough to guide someone just like me two weeks earlier. I see the two sister missionaries that I hosted often and it's nice to see how they are adjusting. Thursday we had a 9-hour In-Field Orientation. We were told that this meeting would suck and it would be better if we just kept that in mind when we go. I had that mindset but it was quickly changed. I actually liked the majority of the things they taught and how they taught it. We frequently would change rooms to have different teachers and a change of topic. I only wish we were taught some of this information the whole time we were here versus all crammed into one day.
Yesterday for Pioneer Day Nashville Tribute Band came for our Sunday fireside and it was so fantastic. Normally the departing missionaries have a departure devotional during choir practice Sunday night so I thought we wouldn't be able to participate in the choir, but they moved our devotional to 10am that morning which was great for us. The choir consisted of about 1400 missionaries--the largest the MTC has had. They brought the Spirit with their passion for the gospel as they sang these wonderful, heartfelt songs. We sang three songs with them with huge smiles on our face. After the fireside are different church films that the missionaries can choose from to watch, but we went back to our classroom to receive priesthood blessings from the elders. This was some of the elders' first time giving a comfort blessing. After one of the elders said the first sentence I was hit with a wall of comfort and it brought me to tears. I am grateful for the priesthood and I know for a surety that the priesthood is the power of God and was restored again to the earth.
We leave tomorrow for Alaska so we have a half P-Day today.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
This week has just flown by. The days are long but the weeks go by so fast. We finished off the week teaching our TRC investigators and they went much better after the first visit. We even committed one to being baptized! Because the people are only meant for us to practice on, I am not sure what happens to them if they are real investigators who want to be baptized. I guess Provo missionaries are referred to them. The new investigators we have this week are fantastic. They are prepared by the Lord to hear our message already and are very receptive to our teaching. I truly have a testimony that we are just the Lord's mouthpiece and that we cannot teach without the Holy Spirit.
There was an Elder Willden here who was in my branch and I kept asking to see his fan chart from familysearch.org to see if somehow we were related. Finally, we just pulled up our family trees online and found we share a great-great-great-great grandfather--Charles William Willden Sr. I guess that makes us like fifth cousins or something. How awesome it that?! His full name is Kolton William Willden from Pleasant Grove, Utah and he says there are a lot of Willden's in Utah. The Willden family mailbox that Chandler took a picture with on his mission in SLC might just have belonged to our distant relatives. Elder Willden is now serving his mission in Modesto, California. Family history is a great blessing. I only wish more people would take advantage of the resources the Church offers.
I have run into a couple of my EFY kids here which is a bit weird. Of course it makes sense since I am serving later than most people and my kids have to grow up. I was able to reminisce a little which was enjoyable.
Elder Bednar came to our Sunday fireside to have a Q & A which was pretty great! He asked us if we had a question that we didn't ask (in our minds that we might not have even thought about), that no one else asked him, yet still was answered after this meeting. I certainly did which is the coolest thing ever. He says that they only come once or twice a year so I feel very lucky that he visited during my three weeks here.
We received our itineraries about our flight heading to Alaska and all of a sudden it felt real. I will be in Alaska a week from today and I cannot wait. It will be a little sad since we won't see the elders in our district after they leave Monday. We plan on having a huge group email that we will share short stories from our missions and keep in touch.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The MTC is great !!!! The busy schedule is not too stressful – it’s like EFY all over. My companion's name is Sister Kimball. She is very caring and works really hard during studying times when the Elders like to goof off. I love my district which is fairly large consisting of twelve members: 8 elders who are all going to serve in Louisville, Kentucky and 4 sisters all going to Alaska (in the pic - the one in pink is Sister Burdick, the one in blue on the bed is my companion Sister Kimball and the one in the back next to me is Sister Mataele from Hawaii. We are all roommates and have bonded really quickly.
We are the ones trying to keep the elders on task. The first week's schedule is a bit of a handful since it is not consistent but all the other missionaries say just get to Sunday or get to your first Preparation Day (P-Day) and it will all be fine. This week all the meals are at the same time and majority of the classes are too which I love. We have one of our teachers present some of the time who helps us tremendously. Though, a lot of classroom time is left up to us to study even when we want to socialize. This second week we began teaching our first TRC investigators. They are paid actors who help us with our training to one day teach real investigators of the Church. We are having to teach three investigators every other day. One is our teacher pretending to be an actual investigator they encountered on their mission and the others are from the Training Resource Center. Our teacher's investigator and our first investigator we visited with at the TRC are fantastic--very warm and friendly. It is easy for us to be guided by the Spirit to teach them. Our last investigator is very different. First the beginning of the meeting we were just on the wrong foot. It was hard to connect with her and we hardly taught her anything. This investigator is definitely a trial we are being put through from the Lord. I am glad, though, that we are having to go through this now rather than the first time in the mission field. I think about her still and pray to have Christ like love for her.
We are required to exercise every day except on Sundays and they are optional on P-Days but I have found the desire to exercise more than ever. I yearn for the good feeling afterwards and ability to focus more easily. Something I realized about myself here is that junk food makes me tired and unfocused. At home I can be fine to eat whatever but I'm trying now to eat better foods even when there are so many options for dessert here. I know if I eat things I shouldn't I'll regret it later in class. One week down, two more to go till we are off to ALASKA!! I can't wait to go but I have seen the blessing of having the Missionary Training Center and know I'll grow spiritually and as a teacher in the weeks to come.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
In a few hours I will enter the Missionary Training Center as a full time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am so grateful that I have been called to serve in the Alaska Anchorage Mission and will be there for a period of 18 months. I cannot ask for a better opportunity to draw closer to my Heavenly Father and teach His children the restored gospel that is now back on the earth. During this time, I will sacrifice the use of Facebook among other things to focus solely on serving the Lord.