Another long anticipated email...So GREAT to hear from her!!!! :)
First of all, wow this week has been so amazing! I can't believe I have been here for three weeks . . . When I think about it, it feels like I just got dropped off yesterday. But then again, it already feels like this is home. This week has been a turning point for me. This week I have really figured out the type of missionary I want to be, and I have made myself various commitments on how I can follow through. As missionaries we are told to serve the Lord with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. I have thought about this a lot this week. What exactly does this mean? How do I do this as a missionary? I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences from this week and share some of the commitments I have given myself.
Last Friday Sister Rasmussen and I had our first experience at the TRC. Up until that point we had taught so MANY lessons with our "progressing investigators" and I figured this would be pretty much the same thing, only with one time investigators. I was wrong though. When you go to the TRC, you teach actual people. There isn't any pretending. You teach people as themselves. I got a little bit nervous about this as we stood outside the doors waiting to visit with the people. In fact I almost started hyperventilating . . . why was I so nervous? Sister Rasmussen and I said our first prayer before entering the room and it was a really neat experience. Here is what I wrote in my journal right after the experience:
"Sister Rasmussen and I just taught in the TRC for the first time! We taught two different people--both middle aged men. The thing that made this experience so cool was that both of these men were just acting as themselves. There wasn't any 'investigator.' We were being missionaries just like we are :) Right before going into the room I started hyperventilating. Up until this point I have only taught Bruder Alston and Bruder Davis. I was so scared because this was a real opportunity to talk with real people, get to know them, and then share a message and testimony as the Spirit directed. This was also the first time that Sister Rasmussen and I prayed before going to teach/meet with someone. It was really incredible to see the faith of these volunteers. We only spent about 20 minutes with each of them, but in that 20 minutes I really felt of their spirit and the Spirit of Christ. The first man teaches Physics at BYU and he served a mission in Germany. Just talking to him I felt of his love for missionary work. We bore testimony to him and after we finished he bore his own testimony. He spoke with such conviction! His eyes looked so sincerely into mine that they penetrated deep into my soul. His words slowed down and his throat closed off a bit as he began to get emotional. The second man too, he was so friendly! He really gave me courage to go and give the Lord my ALL. He said, 'Don't worry about rejection. The Lord will never reject you.' That really comforted me. I know I can expect a lot of rejection in Germany, but I do NOT fear. The only person that I should fear rejection from is the Lord and I know that will never happen. I'm so grateful for all of these opportunities in the MTC that push me so that I can learn and grow. Yes it is HARD. But I can do HARD things."
The next big day for me was. Sundays here are always so busy but so filled with the Spirit. Before Relief Society we always get to listen and watch "Music and the Spoken Word" and it always gets me in the best mood for the rest of the day. For RS we were able to have Sheri Dew as the speaker. There were a few points in her talk that really got through to me. I already mentioned the one about obedience (in my other email with the list) but I will repeat it here. She said, "Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles." I really have such a desire to be the best missionary I can be, but I realize that I have far to go. One thing that I know that I can change right off the bat is dressing as a missionary in my dress. We have such detailed dress and grooming standards, but before coming here I honestly didn't think too much about them. All my clothes are modest! But still I found myself justifying a few of the standards saying, 'I'm sure there will be other girls wearing this or that.' I don't want to say that though. I just want to do things because I am asked. As a missionary I am not just representing myself and my family out there. I am representing the LORD. I am representing HIS church here on the earth. The dress and grooming standards and all of the other rules were made by the first presidency and quorum of the twelve. They've got to know something right? So in my attempts to align myself in complete obedience, I went to my closet and realized that some of my hemlines were too short and some of my necklines too low (only a few). Although these things would be fine on any other occasion, I am learning that there is a HIGHER standard set for missionaries, and I am more than willing to comply with that. So pretty much Heather can expect a little early Christmas present from her sister before she leaves the MTC ;). I don't only want to be obedient in this sense, but in EVERY sense. I want all the blessings I can get. I am here so I might as well make the best of it.
Sister Dew talked further about the importance of conversion in the gospel. Do you know the difference between having a testimony and being truly converted? Unless we are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ there is a chance we could fall away. Especially in our world today there are so many people targeting religion and our religion in particular. We all NEED to be converted. To be converted we have to immerse ourselves. Conversion requires immersion.
The rest ofwas incredible. Sister Rasmussen and I had some study time outside while it was still rather early and the surroundings were so beautiful. The mountains are right here! And it just smells so good around here! Haha I think there is a little patch of herbs somewhere by the school building where we study outside because it just smells so yummy! And you know how I like my herbs ;). Sundays feel different around here. They are still busy and we spend a lot of time studying but you can definitely feel the reverence as if it is a tangible thing.
Everynight we have the opportunity to watch a short film. I went with my district to "Character of Christ," which was a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring at a Christmas devotional at the MTC. I had heard so much about this talk before (EVERYBODY at the MTC talks about it and how it has changed their life in some way or another). I now agree with all the comments before me. This talk is so inspiring. Do we all know the true Character of Christ? Do we have faith in Him AND in His Atoning sacrifice? President Eyring focused on one character trait of Christ: Christ turns Himself outward, while the natural man turns himself inward. Who am I as a person? Who are we all? Do we believe in Christ? Of Christ? Or do we believe Christ? This talk really made me think about the desire I have to reach out and seek for Charity in my own life. Charity = the pure love of Christ. This is something that I want to exhibit in my own character. While the natural man is selfish, the character of Christ is selfless. One thing that I want to do as a result of this talk is get to know Christ myself. President Eyring said that one thing he has done is gone through the Bible and the Book of Mormon and read specifically searching for passages that outline the character of Christ. By doing this we see who he was as a person and who he is as God. What an amazing idea, one that I definitely want to carry out on my own! I know that in our family we focus a lot on reading the Book of Mormon, and that Book truly is a powerful testament of Jesus Christ. I think our family would also be benefited much by reading the powerful testimonies in the Bible.
I talked about some of the commitments I made for myself and one of them is trying to think about Christ throughout my entire day. After all I am here to do His work. I decided that one way I could do this is by getting a photo of Him and putting it by my bed. So now I actually have three of them: one of Christ with the little children, one of Him suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and one of Him in heaven surrounded by concourses of heavenly angels. It's actually really neat because these pictures are the first things that I see in the morning and the last things I see before going to bed. I said that I wanted to be a dedicated missionary, one with no distractions. This really helps me. I have lots of pictures of family and friends that I have brought with me, but I find that it is better to pull these out during personal time or on P-day so that I can focus on the tasks that I face during the week. I think I will also add a picture of our family on my wall too though, because I love our family so much. And families are such an important element of God's plan for us. Families are a blessing here on earth, and I know that you all will be blessed by my service.
This week I have grown so much as an individual, but also in my companionship. This whole companionship thing is really good for me. I really can't do things alone. Not only do I have to rely on the Lord and in the Spirit, I have to rely in and trust my companion. The Lord has said that wherever two or three are gathered in my name there will I be also. (Sorry not a direct quote). We need second, and in some cases three witnesses. We need the Spirit present in our lessons. My companion and I have really worked on unity in teaching this week and our lessons have improved exponentially. We have to prepare, we have to work together, we have to seek for the influence of the Spirit.
I have started reading the scriptures in German the past couple mornings and it is incredible how much I can understand. The verb tenses are often strange, but I can understand the majority of what I read. I have been reading with both copies open and it really helps me to mark verses in my German. You can feel the Spirit reading in German just as you feel it reading in English! :D I have such a craving for knowledge and I can't wait for the day when I can have a higher understanding. Even with the German language I find my mind making amazing connections and wondering good questions to help me learn.
The devotional last night again had a great impact on me. "What e'er thou art, act well thy part." (I believe that came off a plaque from President David O. Mckay but I'm not sure.) This really helped me a lot to think about what all I can do to fulfill my calling. How I can be the best that I can be. I wrote down these questions in contemplation last night. 1) What do I want to be? 2) What does the Lord want me to be? and 3) How do I answer both of these questions with the same answer?
I honestly don't know yet, but I intend to go through my mission seeking to align my purposes with the Lord's so that I might have a better understanding. I am to serve God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. How do I do that? I am realizing that there are a lot of things given to me as a missionary that I must do. And the follow up question is often, "how?" It is up to us to decide how we follow the rules, how we will follow the commandments, how we will magnify our calling.
So I mentioned that I made some commitments last night , so I wanted to write down what I wrote in my journal:
"I commit tonight that I will serve the Lord with all ALL ALL my HEART, MIGHT, MIND, AND STRENGTH. I haven't decided what that means yet and how I will follow through, I just know that I will. And I will keep this commitment. I will not let a day go by that is wasted. I will open my mouth. I will smile. I will laugh. I will bear my testimony with deep conviction. I will serve. I will LOVE. I will pray daily and ask specifically that I might exhibit charity towards others. I will read, search, study, ponder over, and pray about the scriptures. I will set aside distractions. I will leave the cares of the world behind. I will come to know Jesus Christ and I will seek to implement His character in my life. I will learn about His Atonement and I will thank God for this gift and use it daily. I will become better every day. I will be exactly obedient. I will become a consecrated missionary. I am a missionary and I expect to do this job right. I hope and pray that I will be able to affect others that they might be able to feel my love and that they might come to feel of the Savior's love for them."
So there you go. That was my week in a nutshell. I miss you all so so so so much and I LOVE you so so so so so so much :)
LOVE, YOUR SISTER, DAUGHTER, FRIEND, AND SISTER MISSIONARY,
PS. I don't want to sound like I am too serious in my email or anything so I need to include a few silly events here ;)
1) Today I got a yogurt from the vending machine and I had no spoon so I had to implement and use a tampon. (clean one of course!!)
2) The other day when Sister Rasmussen and I were teaching we were wrapping up our lesson and she meant to say, "when can we meet with you again?" But she accidentally said, "Wenn konnen wir taufen Sie? Which means, "When can we baptize you?" Honestly, the three of us sat there for five minutes nearly in tears because we were laughing so hard. I don't know what it is here but I laugh so MUCH. I am always happy and smiling. Hahaha.
3) In the classroom we were doing role playing where Bruder Davis would be our investigator and we would switch off in companionships teaching him (switching between us and the elders). You have to know that Bruder Davis is hilarious! And such a good actor and he always has the funniest expressions and voices and stuff and they always make me laugh. So I am drinking Crystal Light (THANK YOU MOMMY :D), and right after I take a big drink I suddenly bust up laughing. Needless to say laughing with juice in your mouth does not work. So . . . pretty much I sat there clasping my hands over my mouth trying to save poor Bruder Davis and the Elders from second hand juice spray . . . I finally swallowed the juice (well, inhaled it) so I started coughing everywhere. So I am sitting there dying of laughter, coughing, and tears. And of course the elders are looking at me like I'm crazy giving me the funniest looks which just makes me laugh harder!!!! Everybody was laughing at me mostly because they didn't know what was going on and finally I just stood up and said, "I think I just need to step out of the classroom for a minute. I need to just get my laughs out." I honestly don't know what came over me but it was nice having a good laugh :) I think I am adding years onto my life with every day I spend here. (I guess it will work out perfect for the years I take off in the mission field! :P). Sister Rasmussen and I had to teach next and thank goodness I didn't have another laughing attack. Bruder Davis does like to have fun with us though. We went outside the door (of the classroom) and proceeded to knock and introduce ourselves and the first time he shut the door on us just for the fun of it. I finally came up with the idea that we should kneel down and put our hands up clasped together like beggars for when we knocked the third time. Haha so he opens the door and then looks down at us with the funniest expression and we both hold up our hands saying, "BITTE!" which means Please! Haha he had to shut the door so he could stop laughing.
We have soooo much fun with our teachers. Bruder Davis has been teaching in the afternoon and Bruder Alston in the morning now. The thing that is so cool is that we can feel the spirit so strongly, laugh to the point of tears, learn to the point of insanity, and become good friends all at the same time. We are all so close with each other because we spend every day ALL day together. It's really neat. I know I have said this before but they really are like my family.
Okay, well I better go. I love you!
PS. What's my blog address? And if you wouldn't mind would you forward my emails to Bradley and Kalin pretty please? And anybody else. Thank you mother!!!!!! :D